Distilled water

kinder_devonshire(4b ID)February 12, 2011

I have been reading that it would be better to water my AV with distilled water. Would it be worthwhile to get a home distiller? Getting water from the store all the time is a hassle, and my water is rather hard. I saw this little distiller on line http://www.a1-water-distiller.com/ and was wondering if anyone thought it would be worthwhile.

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You can use that but I use rain/snow water whenever possible. I collect it anyway for my carnivorous plants (they can't take tap water).

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 11:26AM
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It depends on the quality of your local water supply, I would think. Is it really too hard?

True, I do not show so growing that Best in Show is not my primary goal, hang the cost :) Still, I doubt that everyone has to use distilled water.

I'd be a little dubious about what my snow was contaminated with ;). It might contain more, er, nutrients than the plant food.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 1:43PM
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kinder_devonshire(4b ID)

My water is around 7.5 to 8, leaves a chalky film on everything. My poor tea kettle has a white coating on the bottom.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 10:28PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

You probably can mix distilled water with tap water half and half. Read your city water report. You should have 150 or less mmp (or something - 1/1000000 parts ) of solids. If it is more - you probably will benefit by splitting tap water with distilled or rain water. Rain is usually on acid side - yep - because of the pollution. Check of your city water is sanitized with chlorine - which is good - it evaporates - or chloramine - which is BAD.

If you water is really bad - you can purchase a RO system - I think you can get one on ebay for $90 - and filter water for your own consumption and for plants. That's what orchid growers and aquarium hobbyists are doing. Beer makers - if they do not have access to the good natural water supply - that's why Coors beer is good - it uses mountain stream water - they run their water through reverse osmosis filters before mixing it with barley and hops and what else they use.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 11:03AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Never use only distilled water. Has nothing for AVs.

As has been suggested, you might mix distilled with your tap/well water. And you might also consider bottled water - cheapest source is the fill-your-own gallon-jugs.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 8:28PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

As far as I know there are specialized fertilizer formulas for reverse osmosis water - at least for orchids - to compensate for the low salt content. So you probably can use pure RO or distilled water provided you include the missing elements.

Depending on the size of your collection - if it is relatively small- you can get by with mixing purchased water with tap. The 7.5-8 Ph is typical for city water - my guess they maitain this PH as optimal for less corrosion and sedimentation of the pipes. When you water your plants that have peat moss in their soil - this weak alkalinity is compensated by humic acid in peat. The solids content - that's what probably more of an issue. If you have 600 ppm calcium and magnesium salts in your water - it is probably bad for your own health too.
You need to call your water district - and ask them about - what's the average Ph, what's the solid content and what they use - chlorine or chloramine for sanitizing. They are obliged to send you a report once a year anyway.

As for now - be sure you repot your plants ever 6 months - standards, and every 4 months - minis. This way you prevent a dangerous accumulation of salts. The second thing - recently we had a program at the Violet Council regarding fertilizers - and I heard an interesting idea regarding leaching. If you use distilled or RO or whatever good water for leaching - add several drops of a fish emulsion in your water. Supposedly works really well.

Good Luck


    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 11:40AM
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kinder_devonshire(4b ID)

I have sent an e-mail to the city water department. The water quality report given out is very limited, apparently they have been granted wavers. The tap water does have a bit of a metallic/chlorine taste. I have also been looking into tap and on counter water filters. As to the size of my collection, I have around 75 with a few leaves down. They are thirsty little guys.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 11:36PM
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I suppose an alternative is to get your water independently tested. This is done quite frequently here, although the city additives aren't generally the issue.

I would start looking for labs by calling either your health department or state environmental protection agency. We had a list of labs that were approved for water testing but your state may not work the same.

When asking for a test, know what you want them to test it for - it's often bacteria but that's not your concern.

(If any lab says they will test it for giardiasis, run....).


    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 10:04AM
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kinder_devonshire(4b ID)

They are quick on their reply:
"The Ph level of the water is quite neutral and averages 7.6.
Total dissolved solids: 359.1 mg/L or 359.1 parts per million (ppm).
Chlorine is used to disinfect the water. We dose at a rate of 0.3 ppm."
Still think I will look into getting a water filter.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 11:26AM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

You have way too much solids. If you want to split your water with distilled - 1:2 would be right. Filter probably a good solution. Chlorine evaporates if you leave your water exposed for 24 hours, and filter will reduce solids - and make your tea and coffee taste better as well.

I think the regular water filter you can put on your kitchen spout and replace inserts should be OK.

You are in Idaho - means your air humidity is not that high. Do you keep your plants on wicks and mats and trays?

Good Job!


    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 11:43AM
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Water testing info from Univ. of Idaho:



    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 12:07PM
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kinder_devonshire(4b ID)

High solids, and some fluoride as well. Great. Will be tracking down a filter this weekend.
It is dry here in Idaho, I am in the southeast near the desert. But my apartment keeps humidity pretty well. It is on the low side right now, and that is 50%. It can get up to 75% in the summer. Not sure why, but I am happy about it. I am keeping my violets in oyama pots and they seem to be happy. A good half of them are in bloom right now.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 10:20PM
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I used to be a BIG Aquarium hobbist for both salt water and fresh water so, I understand the concern over water quality, and researched the water quality problem extensively. And I found that what I learned also pertained to my plant hobby as well.

First, distilled water is basically useless as far as water goes for plant or fish use.
And the Distilled water process can make the water very acidic also.

Second, There are many ways to deal with dissloved minerals in your water. like rain water, just plain bottled drinking water, or mixtures of tap with bottled water, or rain water.
Most water filters only use carbon as a filter medium, which will only absorb chlorine.
Unless your water is very, very hard it will probably be ok by it's self, or if mixed with other types of rain or bottled drinking water to dilute the mineral content in your water..
Never use water that has been softened by a unit that uses salt as a mineral binder.

But,, what you really do need to worry about is your tap water's additives to keep it drinkable. ie, Chloine, Chloramine, Flouride,etc

Some Saltwater Aquarium Shops will sell reverse osmosis water for about 50 cents to a dollar a gallon. (Bring your own containers) In which all the additives, and dissolved hard minerals have been removed by passing through a membrane. (Not for Human consumption though)

Your local Aquarium store will also carry products designed to remove these additives instantly (ie, Chloine, Chloramine, Flouride,etc) in your water so your water is safe to use in your fish aquariums, therefore I've also found it safe for plants also. Made by SeaChem manfg. (NOT for Human comsumption though!)

Yes, Chlorine will dissipate if left exposed to open air,
but, Chloramine does not. Nor does Florine.

Another good idea if you do have a lot of minerals in your water is to fill a five gallon bucket with Hot water,
Some of the heaviest minerals/soilds will sink to the bottom of a container if left to sit a few days undisturbed, then carefully Dip the top 3rd of the water from the bucket. This will help lower the mineral content further before mixing it with other types of water also.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 2:11PM
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Distilled water = no minerals. Same goes for Deionized water as well.

Rain water can vary in pH greatly so if you use it, you need to monitor the pH closely.

Reverse Osmosis water is also lacking in minerals, but adding fertilizer to the water or soil can help counter this.

They use chloromine to sanitize our water where I live, so I have purchased a dehumidifier and am using the reclaimed water from the air to water my plants. This works well because our air is very humid where I live and I benefit from having a dehumidifier due to my severe allergies to dust mites.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 2:29PM
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Dehumidifiers work well but are expensive to run. I use rainwater mostly.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 10:05AM
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When we first got our place 24 years ago, I got me some more violets, after being with out for a few years. (Volkmann Brothers, little white catalog, before the internet.) I had a light, too. I could not keep them. They'd get unhappy and die. Never had that before. I finally figured it was the well water, a granite well. Our water has lots of cal/mag and some iron. I gave up. Now that I'm back into violets, I go into town and get free RO water. I put Dynagro in it. So far, so good. If it ain't broke, I ain't gonna fix it. Oh, I use a Britta filter now for our tap water, and it does take some of the cal/mag out because the jar I pour it in doesn't get a mineral ring. But I have to change the filter once a month. We have a tin roof, and although I gather rain water, I'm not sure I'd want to pour that on my violets.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 10:56AM
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This all sounds pretty complicated to me! Are you sure don't just want to
Move somewhere to where the water is more suitable?! Ha

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 2:53PM
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