Tap or Distilled Water for My CPAP Humidifier?

Having trouble stocking up on distilled water? Boil regular tap water for 20 minutes. Let it cool. Once it's cooled, you can use it in your CPAP machine. Just make sure to wash the chamber daily.

When using a CPAP humidifier it’s important to only use distilled water. Even though tap water straight from the sink is probably more convenient for many CPAP users to access. However, CPAP manufacturers and clinicians recommend that patients only use distilled water in their humidifier chambers for important reasons!

Tap water contained minerals and possible organisms that you don't want to risk breathing in, these also build up on your supplies and physically break the material down. Distilled water should be the only water placed in water chamber for use.

-Kimberly Allen, Respiratory Therapist, Aeroflow CPAP Clinician

Distilled water is better for your health and the longevity of your CPAP machine.

The Dangers Tap Water In Your CPAP Humidifier

Avoid sink water in your CPAP humidifier When it comes to filling your humidifier chamber remember that even if you boil tap water you can’t fully remove minerals or chemical contaminants, even though it will kill microbes. The water will still remain, ‘hard’, meaning it contains minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and more.

These minerals can collect over time to damage the water chamber and the rest of your CPAP machine. Because they’re abrasive they can actually cause the plastics and other materials to physically break down.

Filtered water may remove a few of the minerals, but might not fully remove harsh chemicals or living organisms.

Distilled water is the best option to keep your machine running at optimum performance. However, with the use of tap water, white vinegar may be able to remove mineral build up if you soak the reservoir for a day.

What Water To Use While Traveling?

If water seems unsafe to drink then it’s probably not safe to inhale. Do not use tap water on vacation, it could be contaminated or expose you to harmful pathogens and chemicals such as bleach, ammonia, and chlorine.

Distilled Water Benefits

Distilled water will keep your CPAP running smoothly and ensure you’re getting the most out of your CPAP therapy. It will help you receive the correct amount of pressure and prevent bacteria from making its way into your airway.

Bottled water is better than no water, even though it’s not as safe to use as distilled water. Carefully read the labels in foreign grocery stores to find water that’s safe to use. Also, if you can’t find distilled water it should be fine to go without using your humidifier until you return home.

Don’t Add Anything To The Water

Your lungs will be exposed to the water in your humidifier, which is why using plain distilled water is crucial for your health. Water softeners, soaps, scented oils, and more may expose you to harsh chemical fumes such as bleach, chlorine, and alcohol.

Why Use A CPAP Humidifier?

Should you use a CPAP with humidifier? Maybe. They may increase user comfort by adding moisture to the air that passes through your CPAP machine to reduce irritation of the nose, mouth, and throat.

Both heated humidifiers and water chambers help relieve dryness caused by CPAP therapy and may prevent your throat from becoming sore. The moisture can also help break up congestion and nasal obstructions caused by allergies and colds.

Humidifier Chamber Maintenance

Speaking of colds, it’s important for your health to keep your CPAP supplies clean to avoid the build-up of germs, pathogens, allergens, mold, bacteria, and more.

Woman sleeping with CPAP mask

Read More: The Best Ways To Clean Your CPAP

To keep your humidifier clean:

  • Change the water daily to prevent bacteria from collecting in stagnant water. 
  • Clean your humidifier once a week by carefully removing it from the machine to wash with warm, soapy water. Allow it to fully air dry before putting it back.
  • Soak your humidifier in a solution of 1 part vinegar and 3 parts for about 20 minutes then thoroughly rinse it with distilled water once a week.
  • Or speed up the process by using a CPAP cleaner like the Lumin to instantly eliminate 99% of harmful pathogens without the use of water.
  • Some CPAP humidifiers are dishwasher safe but refer to your manual.
  • Replace your humidifier on a regular basis according to your supply schedule. Generally, they should be replaced every six months.

heated cpap humidifier