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England/ UK CPAP users distilled water

We are currently travelling in the UK. Like many others, I have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and use a CPAP machine that requires distilled water. At home in the U.S. distilled water is easily available in most grocery stores. Not so in the UK. I have been to several grocery stores and have been sent to several chemists only to find that almost none carry distilled water, although one in Oxford , Boswells, did carry a few jugs of "purified water". Running low in Keswick, I happened on a chemist who had the answer: auto repair shops ! While few chemists carry either distilled water or "purified water", auto repair shops carry distilled/deionized water for use in topping up auto batteries. I walked a few blocks to an auto repair shop in Keswick, asked for distilled/deionized water and the only question was " how many jugs do you want".

Posted by
2140 posts

This question comes up from time to time. I'd love to know what British users clean their machines with because using distilled water isn't a thing in the UK.

These instructions for cleaning a CPAP machine just say use warm water and mild detergent.

https://www.resmed.com/uk/en/consumer/support/masks/how-to-clean-your-mask.html

which sort of backs up what I hinted at above - distilled water isn't used/readily available. Buying it from a garage seems weird.

And the water varies in the UK between hard (limescale in kettles) and soft no limescale,

http://www.bristan.com/hard-water-map

Posted by
5574 posts

I'm surprised at your report. Did you look near the regular bottled water for drinking? Another option besides the laundry area (watch out for lavender-scented ironing water) is the baby area. In the US, of course, labelled baby distilled water costs more than regular distilled water!

Did you go to a really big supermarket, or a glorified Convenience Store? Water is low priced item they might not have room for. I have also bought distilled water (admittedly, in France I think) at Target, same logo as in the U.S.A. That was in a big city, but if you're on the road, there are depressingly many "Big Box" stores in all countries now.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks to all who responded. Yes, normal water and dish soap is used to clean the removable parts of a CPAP, and then those parts are then dried before use. The issue with what kind of water is used in the reservoir is that reservoir water is atomized to provide a level of humidity in the air stream that you breath. That air stream is made in the interior of the machine, since a CPAP is actually a miniature air compressor. The interior of the machine is not washed , but is protected by a changeable air filter. Any minerals in the reservoir water will leave deposits that will constrict the airflow in the interior of the machine. That airflow is the purpose of using a CPAP. Scented or "baby " water has minerals intentionally added to it, which would cause clogging of the air stream produced in the interior of the machine.

Posted by
97 posts

Could you not just use previously boiled water eg from a kettle? Sorry if that’s a dumb question!

Posted by
3351 posts

Could you not just use previously boiled water eg from a kettle? Sorry
if that’s a dumb question!

Boiling will kill microorganisms, but it will not remove the minerals in the water. And that, essentially, is what distilled water is- demineralized water. As mentioned, it is necessary to prevent mineral buildup or scaling inside the machine. At any rate, glad the OP was able to eventually find what he needed.

Posted by
2140 posts

distilled water...... is necessary to prevent mineral buildup or scaling inside the machine

ah so that's the reason. In that case simply use tap water from the north of England and Scotland

Posted by
1256 posts

Ok, this is going to sound strange but, On my last trip to London I couldn’t find distilled water for my CPAP and used regular water instead. When I got home I used vinegar to clean my reservoir.

Posted by
8507 posts

But water never enters the machine itself in most CPAPs; it sits in the attached humidifier’s reservoir, is heated, and exits via the tube. The filter cleans the air sucked into the CPAP machine where it is compressed and released into the humidifier, skimming the surface of the water and on up the tube.
Is this a new sort of machine that sucks water into it?

Posted by
17 posts

The instructions I received with the machine were clear: never use anything other than distilled water in the reservoir.

Posted by
1256 posts

I understand what your CPAP instructions say, mine say the same thing. I don’t mean to be rude with my next question but, If you cannot find distilled water, are you not going to use your CPAP?

Posted by
17 posts

I did find distilled/deionized water at a car repair shop, which is where I will look again as we travel and I need to replenish. I would not go without using the machine. Since starting to use the CPAP, after being diagnosed with sleep apnea, the quality of sleep has greatly improved and my blood pressure has gone down to the point that my doctor reduced my blood pressure med by 50 %.

Posted by
1 posts

Was recently to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Could not find any distilled water in any of these countries and I did try many, many stores (Dunnes, Tesco, SuperValu etc.) including many chemists. When I asked someone or store employees if they have distilled water they responded with "We don't know what that is".

BTW, you are correct, only distilled water is to be used in CPAP machines. I have been a CPAP user for 10 years now and always use distilled water. I was so frustrated on this trip that I tried producing my own "distilled water" by boiling & filtering with coffee filters (although this is not what true distilled water is).
We are planning a return trip next year and if unsuccessful in locating it, I have looked up the process of creating distilled water and it is fairly simple. All you need is a large metal pot, glass bowl & a metal lid that you add ice to.
Thanks for the topic, I too was extremely frustrated in tracking it down.