Is Distilled Water Electrically Conductive?

Water conducts electricity, as many of us are well aware. However, one thing we should all be aware of is that chemistry is full of exceptions. Most people are sceptical of distilled water’s conductivity. So, in this essay, I’ll attempt to explain the characteristics and conductivity of distilled water to you.

Is it true that distilled water may conduct electricity? No, distilled water is not an electrical conductor. Distilled water is a clean form of water that contains no dissolved contaminants, resulting in the absence of free ions that conduct electricity. The PH value of distilled water is neutral (neither acidic nor basic).

Apart from the water molecules, distilled water is free of any other impurities, and it lacks the free ions that allow electric current to pass through it.

Ions are molecules or single atoms that are positively or negatively charged. Because they are neither stable nor neutral, they flow towards the oppositely charged particle to become stable. Some of the most frequent ions are Na+ (Sodium ion), Cl- (Chloride ion), and S2- (Sulphide ion).

Free ions are in charge of carrying the electric current through the water. Free ions are mobile in nature, and when a potential difference is applied across the water, they travel from the negative terminal to the positive terminal.

Because electrons have a negative charge, they repel negative charges while attracting positive ones.

As a result, distilled water acts as an insulator because no free electrons can travel through it.

Only neutral water molecules, which have no charge, are present in distilled water. As a result, it does not conduct electricity.

Students frequently undertake the electrolysis experiment in high school laboratories. Electrolysis is a chemical degradation method that involves sending an electric current through a salt solution (water containing sodium chloride salt).

Water dissociates into hydrogen and chlorine gas when an electric current is sent through it.

Na+ and H+ migrate towards the cathode (negatively charged terminal), whereas Cl- and OH- move towards the anode (positively charged terminal), and therefore electric current flows through these free ions (Na+, H+, Cl-, OH-).

Because of the NaCl, which dissolves in water and dissociates into two oppositely charged ions, Na+ and Cl-, the flow of electric current is now feasible. We couldn’t do this experiment if we only had purified water and no salt dissolved.

Why is distilled water such a poor electrical conductor?

Distilled water is the purest type of water available, as it contains no dissolved impurities. There are no free ions in it since it solely comprises H2O molecules that are bound together by covalent bonds. As a result, it is a poor electrical conductor.

The presence of free electrons or free ions in a solution is required for it to conduct electricity. The unionisation of H2O molecules is complete.

Water molecules with dissolved contaminants in the form of salts are found in most normal water.

The absence of free ions is the primary cause of distilled water’s weak conductivity ( positive or negative). Only the passage of electric current is controlled by ions.

There are no other free electrons to flow across the water in distilled water because it only includes one stable molecule of water, H2O.

As a result, distilled water serves as an insulator. It will behave as a conductor when salts such as NaCl (Sodium chloride) or other impurities are added because salt includes Na+ and Cl-, which flow through the water and cause an electric current to flow through it.

In water, salt acts as an impurity, providing free ions for the generation of an electric current.

Is it true that tap water conducts electricity?

Yes, tap water isn’t quite pure. Minerals and other dissolved salts can ionise and contaminate tap water. These ions aid in the flow of electric current through the device.

The conductivity of water increases as the amount of ions in the water increases. As a result, distilled water is an insulator since it contains no ions that conduct electricity.

Chlorine chemicals are also added to the water to filter tap water. Chlorination is the term for the process of adding chlorine to tap water.

Because tap water is chlorinated, there are enough Cl- ions (chloride ions) that behave as free ions to conduct electricity.

By filtering tap water, chlorination of tap water helps to avoid health concerns like typhoid and cholera.

Does rainfall have the ability to transmit electricity?

Rainwater does carry electricity because it contains pollutants such as sulphur oxides, which are acidic and produce H+ ions. When a voltage is applied across the raindrops, these liberated ions will conduct electric current with their mobility.

Rainwater conductivity is related to the amount of dissolved salt it contains. The more salts available in rainwater, the more free ions will conduct electricity via it.

Electric current leaks into water bodies in several parts of the world, causing death news to be broadcast.

As a result, it’s best to stay away from electrical appliances during the rainy season. Because damp electric sockets or cables can cause an electric shock, you should avoid them.

In the event of rain, catstles should not be fastened to electric poles. For animals, it can be life-threatening.

What is the best way to make distilled water conduct electricity?

Distilled water is a pure kind of water, as we all know. When impurities like salts like NaCl and any other salt compound are added to distilled water, it becomes a salt solution.

In distilled water, the salt has free ions that can move around inside the liquid. The electric current will flow through the water if we put it in a container and apply a voltage to it.

As a result, by adding contaminants to distilled water, we can make the water conduct electricity. The conductivity of distilled water will increase as the amount of salt in it increases.

In this post, I attempted to address the issue of distilled water’s weak conductivity as well as the logical reasons for it.

I hope you’ve learned enough about the conductivity of distilled water.

Read more: What Causes Ice to Be Colder When It Is Salted?

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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