Water for the CPAP Humidifier: Which one is better and why?

Last Updated on March 30, 2021

A heated humidifier increases the comfort of CPAP therapy and prevents many side effects, such as dry mouth, stuffy nose, or froggy throat. However, not everyone knows that not all water can be poured into the reservoir of this useful device. In the instructions to almost any model you will find information that you can only use distilled water. But what will happen if you fill up the humidifier reservoir directly from the tap? Let’s find out.

Water for CPAP Humidifiers: Basic Options

It’s not just distilled water that can be poured into the humidifier of a CPAP machine. There are other options that deserve your attention.

Can i use Tap water in my CPAP?

If you visit forums where CPAP users communicate, you have probably encountered the opinion that tap water is clean enough, absolutely safe for the machine to work, and therefore there is no point in complicating your life and buying distillate. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth.

Tap water does seem like the easiest and least expensive way to fill a humidifier. But what flows from the tap is not perfectly pure water, but a solution that contains various mineral impurities. Mineral salts are deposited on the heating plate of the humidifier. As a result of the resulting “scaling”, the device performs worse and cannot produce enough steam to moisten nasal and pharyngeal mucous membranes, and it eventually produces less life and can deteriorate relatively quickly.

The mineral composition and amount of contaminants varies depending on where you live and the quality of your water pipes. But don’t think that poor water quality is solely a problem in poor countries. Even in some developed countries, if one wants to drink a glass from the tap, one risks getting a seemingly small dose of arsenic, cadmium, organochlorine compounds, fluorine, chromium or lead.

And even if you do not care about the potential danger of these substances to health, such water significantly reduces the life of an expensive CPAP device. And in some cases, excessive deposition of mineral salts on the heater element of the humidifier can void the manufacturer’s warranty on the device.

That said, it’s okay if you pour tap water into the CPAP unit only occasionally. However, after that, you need to thoroughly clean the tank in the morning to remove all mineral deposits and sanitize Mask and Hose using CPAP Cleaner.

Distilled Water

Most manufacturers of CPAP equipment strongly recommend that the heater humidifier be filled with distilled water.

The distillation process turns water into steam and then condenses it back into a liquid. During this process, virtually all inorganic compounds and microorganisms are removed from it. That is, distilled water is as close as possible to the formula H2O. And that is why it is ideal wherever sterility is important, such as in laboratories, medical practices and also in your CPAP machine.

Can i use Purified or Filtered water?

Many people now have a water filter at home. It can be a pitcher with replaceable cartridges or it can be a system built into your water supply. Once filtered, most contaminants are removed from the water, which means it is acceptable to use it in heated humidifiers. But it’s important to keep a few things in mind here.

First, it’s important to change the cartridges in the pitcher or water filters regularly. Otherwise, the effectiveness of water purification will gradually decline. In addition, purification cartridges do not all manufacturers purify water equally well, a cheap filter may not provide sufficient removal of salts contained in the liquid.

Secondly, if you have a centralized tap water purification system, make sure that it is not equipped with a mineralizer. This device enriches the purified water with minerals to improve its taste. However, such a liquid is no longer suitable for a humidifier.

Thirdly, for the CPAP machine are a danger of water purification systems with nanofiltration membrane, which is able to let some of the magnesium and calcium salts pass through. This preserves the familiar taste of the water, but again makes it unsuitable for heated humidifiers.

Can I use Bottled Water in CPAP?

Many packaged blue mineral water bottles in stock in a store or market.

If the bottle is labeled “Mineral Water” or “Spring Water,” it most likely contains traces of salts and minerals. In this sense, it is not much different from tap water. This means that this water should not be used regularly for the humidifier in the CPAP machine.

Can i use Boiled Water in my CPAP?

Boiling kills the germs in the water, but does not remove minerals or chemical and mechanical contaminants. In fact, there may be even more mineral deposits in the humidifier tank after using boiling water than after normal tap water. After all, during boiling, the liquid evaporates, consequently making the mineral solution more concentrated. In other words, it makes no sense to specifically boil water for a CPAP device.

Water from Wells and Natural Springs

Do not use water from wells or any natural sources for the humidifier. It may contain not only inorganic impurities, but also various microorganisms. Filling your CPAP machine with such water is a serious health hazard.

Never use CPAP Aromatherapy!

A humidifier helps to breathe with more comfort. But sometimes users of CIPAP machines want to make the process even more pleasant and useful. And then the question arises: what else can be added to the humidifier? But in fact the list is not very long. It includes only the purest possible water. After all, anything that goes into the tank then ends up in your lungs. Therefore, it’s important to avoid the following substances in the humidifier (including you can’t even use them when cleaning the unit!):

  • essential oils;
  • perfume additives;
  • bleach;
  • Glycerin-based soaps and soaps with all kinds of fragrances;
  • ammonia;
  • alcohol.

If you really want to resort to aromatherapy before going to bed, you can add oils to a special lamp. It’s safe, it helps you relax, and some essentials can even reduce nasal congestion.


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