View Full Version : Tap water or distilled?

Neal Glover
10-26-2000, 03:16 PM
Should one go out of the way to use distilled water, or is tap water good enough? I'm curious whether the mineral content of a non-distilled water, or the chemicals in treated and tap waters might affect the paint (either short or long term) or papers. If nothing else, has anyone everr noticed whether tap water leaves crystals or powder like the water spots on glasses.

10-26-2000, 04:03 PM
Gee Neal, in a pinch...I've reached over and used stream water to paint a quick landscape. Many of the master's watercolors, such as Winslow Homer...look as fresh as the day they were painted, and we certainly know distilled water was unavailable then. So...logic might suggest it no problem.

Larry http://lseiler.artistnation.com

10-26-2000, 04:08 PM
The only thing I've ever read about water is that heavily clorinated water is not good...I suppose it could lighten the painting. I'm not a purist about such things and like Larry...I'd probably use pond water is if was all I had at the moment...lol.
Of course there is a big difference in his fresh streams and our Georgia pond scum!

10-26-2000, 04:19 PM
Distilled water is preferrable as it contains no impurities, but I use tap water with no problems,rain water collected would help,no chlorine there,

Rodzart from New Zealand (http://www.artistnation.com/members/paris/rodzart/)

10-26-2000, 04:40 PM
It has long been said that distilled water is best for painting, but hardly anyone uses it. I have water from a community well, and it is loaded with lead...but I haven't noticed any problems with the paintings over the years.
Unless your water is extremely chlorinated, I wouldn't worry about it .... http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif Carol

10-26-2000, 05:18 PM
Well, I don't know about you, Neal, but logic doesn't suggest to me that because Winslow Homer's paintings are still okay mine will be okay, too, over the same period of time. I really doubt that the municipal water supplies in W.H.'s day were quite as loaded with impurities, and chemicals to counteract those impurities, as they are a hundred years later. I think those chemicals are bound to have some eventual effect on the paper and the colors.

Having said that, I have used distilled, but usually I use tap water (there is no discernable difference in the look -- no water-spotting like on glasses). Maybe the tap-water paintings will be fine; I don't know. But if I wanted to be extra sure that my paintings would last a very long time, I would use distilled. Since I'm painting for my own pleasure, and not cranking out any masterpieces yet, I am not all that concerned. (I do, however, use archival papers.)

10-26-2000, 08:38 PM
well..so much for logic! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif

at any rate...water would have had greater iron content and more minerals in general in Homer's day.

It is thought that many suffered from severe arthritis, experiencing a near fossilization inside out from too much direct minerals...if in fact that is possible. Regardless...there were many minerals not filtered out of water as there is today.

Now..it would be interesting to know if higher concentrations of minerals in the water in the days of watercolor's inception and development had any effect on paper, pigments, etc; so..one would have to figure if modern water treatment minus many minerals but having clorination is worse than no clorination but many minerals.

Guess I can't claim to know...

I imagine it would be like arguing eggs used for egg tempera having greater or lesser qualities due to most eggs today being un-Rooster'ized....whereas eggs in the Early Renaissance era no doubt would have been Rooster'ized. Guess much of what we do has no choice but to remain conjecture and calculation. Here's wishing good luck to all of us!

Larry http://lseiler.artistnation.com

[This message has been edited by lseiler (edited October 26, 2000).]