A man and girl looking for distilled water on empty shelves
Source: Getty

Inflated Mask Prices Could Lead to a Distilled Water Shortage

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Jan. 14 2022, Published 11:41 a.m. ET

Distilled water can be used for many things, including drinking. However, because it lacks certain micronutrients, it isn't recommended for everyday consumption. Distilled water is often viewed as being the purest form of water you can drink since it “is steam from boiling water that’s been cooled and returned to its liquid state,” according to WebMD.

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Instead of drinking distilled water, many people use it with a neti pot or mix it with infant formula. Also, we’re learning that distilled water can be used to disinfect your KN95 and N95 masks. Both types of masks are in demand and more expensive amid the rise of the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. Does this mean distilled water might be in short supply?

There isn’t a shortage of distilled water—yet.

Is there a distilled water shortage?
Source: Getty Images

Before you panic about another potential shortage, you should know that there doesn’t appear to be a shortage of distilled water yet. However, a recent study conducted by a team of Harvard/Beth Israel doctors found that distilled water can actually be used to clean your KN95 or N95 mask, which could lead to it becoming a more in-demand product.

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As you might have already noticed, the price of both KN95 and N95 masks is outlandish. Many consumers are looking for alternatives to buying more masks. KN95 and N95 masks are currently selling for around $39.74 for a pack of 20 on Amazon, and even go as high as $69.98 for the same quantity.

Instead of spending more money, since the COVID-19 pandemic has already cost Americans more than they can afford, cleaning your N95 or KN95 mask might be another option.

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Distilled water can be used to clean a KN95 or N95 mask.

N95 mask prices surge
Source: Getty Images

Although KN95 and N95 masks have been deemed effective at protecting against the COVID-19 virus, they're designed for a single use. According to a study, microwave-generated steam has “proven to be an effective method of decontamination.”

To decontaminate your N95 or KN95 mask, according to the study, the following steps must be taken:

  • Fill a 10-cm diameter mug with 60 ml of distilled water.
  • Cover the mug with a mesh from a produce bag.
  • Secure the mesh with a rubber band.
  • Place your N95 or KN95 mask on top of the mesh.
  • Place the mug in a sealed but ventilated Ziploc bag or directly into the microwave.
  • Microwave for 1 minute.
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With health experts now questioning the effectiveness of cloth masks and the CDC considering recommending the use of KN95 or N95 masks, they might become scarce or too expensive for the average consumer to afford.

If there's a distilled water shortage, here’s how you can make your own.

If you decide that you want to disinfect your KN95 or N95 mask using the distilled water method explained above and distilled water is in short supply, here’s how you can make it. According to WebMD, you’ll want to follow these steps:

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  • Fill a large pot with water halfway.
  • Tie a cup to the lid of the pot so that it hangs right side up. The cup should hang high enough so that it doesn't touch the water.
  • Any water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled water.

If you’re concerned that masks or distilled water might become scarce, it wouldn't hurt to purchase a few of these items for storing to ensure that you have them when needed.

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