This section is from the book "A Treatise On Beverages or The Complete Practical Bottler", by Charles Herman Sulz. Also available from Amazon: A Treatise On Beverages.
"This is the proper kind of water to use in the reduction of spirits, but it is claimed that it will not do for the manufacture of carbonated and fermented drinks, and that experiment has proved that distilled water used in the manufacture of such drinks makes them flat and insipid".
This is stated advisedly, though its use is recommended by high authorities.
Distilling the water is without doubt the most perfect plan for getting rid of organic matter, but it unfortunately separates the water from other bodies that are better left in it.
In a paper read at a recent pharmaceutical meeting, several chemists were of the opinion "that distilled water is frequently of a musty, unpleasant odor, vapid and disagreeable taste, and as likely may contain metallic impurities, from the uncertain, careless methods of commercial manufacture; further, its efficiency is called into question from the physiological fact that distilled water is difficult of digestion and not as acceptable to irritable stomachs" These statements, however, may be regarded as extreme. Another chemist says, "There is a decided difference in favor of distilled water, as to color, brightness, and freedom from fungoid growth, in preparations made with it".
Certain it is that distilled water is invariable in its composition, while all rain, spring, river and reservoir waters vary; that by reason of distillation it cannot convey the germs of disease, and makes no dangerous calcareous or earthy deposits of any kind in the human body, nor does it cause any trouble in the manufacture of carbonated beverages such as precipitates from contents of lime or magnesia, or ropiness, bad odors, etc., as impure water does; that distilled water is free from organic matter and sewage contamination, also free from all mineral substances; and if properly prepared, free from metallic impurities. But distilled water is not fit for drinking; it is flat and insipid. To be potable, water should contain a certain amount of carbonic acid gas and air, and also an infinitesimal proportion of chemical salts, but distilling separates it from those necessary ingredients. When distilled water is aerated with pure atmospheric air, it will answer for most purposes, drinking included. If distilled water should be exposed to the atmospheric air it would take up oxygen again, but at the same time be contaminated by the germs and minute inorganic particles the air is invariably loaded with.
It has not been determined yet how large the proportion of salts should be in potable water. However, it has been recommended to make distilled water potable by the addition of 4 to 5 per cent, of phosphate of soda and 2 1/2 to 4 per cent, of sulphate of soda.
Artificial mineral waters always contain a large amount of mineral salts, and for the manufacture of these, therefore, distilled water is to be highly recommended, especially when those artificial mineral waters are bottled and stored away for an indefinite time. The use of distilled water protects against precipitates so frequently found where undistilled water has been employed. Where distilled water for the manufacture of artificial mineral waters is not available, a pure spring or well-water, carefully filtered and entirely free of organic substances and oxide of iron, will answer.
No doubt, by the addition of extracts, essences and some fruit acid and syrup, the distilled water used for manufacturing saccharine beverages receives some substances which render it palatable. Then by succeeding carbonation the distilled water becomes, as a carbonated saccharine beverage, if the ingredients are unadulterated, in a state not fiat and insipid as before, but a refreshing beverage of great purity. We leave it to the intelligent and enterprising bottler to try for himself and find out whether it suits his trade or not.