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August 14, 2022 5:01 PM   Subscribe

Can I do neti-pot / nasal rinse with bottled water, if it's not labeled "distilled"?

I have COVID. I ordered Instacart yesterday, including a gallon of bottled water to rinse with. When it got here, I realize it's not distilled water like I usually get, but rather "Crystal Geyser Natural Alpine Spring Water". My nasal rinse bottle claims I can use any "commercially bottled water" but I want to make sure... dying of Naegleria fowleri is not on my to-do list this week. I would really like to rinse my sinuses, and waiting for tap water to cool after boiling for 5 minutes has been not very fun.

posted by cnidaria to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
You can store previously boiled water in a clean, closed container for use within 24 hours.
posted by SageTrail at 5:10 PM on August 14

I use a neti pot with boiled water. I pour the hot, boiled water into one of those metal pitchers used to steam milk for cappuccino. Then I put the cappuccino pitcher into a larger bowl of cool tap water. It gets to a usable temperature in about 20 minutes, I think. You can also speed up the cooling by changing out the tap water or adding ice to it.
posted by Lycaste at 5:37 PM on August 14

Response by poster: I don't have a great container for storing boiled water. And even when I boil it, flecks of something come off the (visually clean) stainless steel pot that I don't want in my nose :-(
posted by cnidaria at 5:42 PM on August 14

Response by poster: I've been making a huge amount of water so the black flecks stay on the bottom of the stainless steel pot, and putting my nasal rinse bottle in a bowl of ice-water, but I'm worried about getting tap water drips onto the nose-touching surface while doing this and thus defeating the sterility.
posted by cnidaria at 5:44 PM on August 14

Response by poster: I also honestly have extremely limited kitchen time because I live in a shared house with 4 people, one of whom just had COVID and two of whom have not had COVID yet and are trying to not get it, hence the way I framed my question (not "how can I boil better?" but "Can I use the water I bought?"). Sounds like I'll have to re-order distilled water.
posted by cnidaria at 5:45 PM on August 14

I would not use the water you have, even though the risk is pretty darn small.
posted by aramaic at 5:51 PM on August 14 [3 favorites]

Do you have a microwave? You can boil water in a glass measuring cup. Don’t fill it all the way, microwave for a little bit, stop, stir, microwave again. You can let it cool right in the microwave.

You can also get saline in a spray bottle (Hydrasense, Nelimed, etc)

Hope you feel better soon!
posted by nouvelle-personne at 5:53 PM on August 14 [5 favorites]

Most bottled water you get have minerals added for taste. You can use it, but don't be surprised if you find metal deposits later in whatever vessels you use, but usually only after repeated use.
posted by kschang at 6:10 PM on August 14

Personally, I wouldn't use it. I know this isn't an immediate solution, but I bought an electric kettle for boiling water; it can be kept in your room. I boiled water, poured it in a mason jar, let it cool, then put the lid on. I just had to make sure to always do it ahead of time, so it was ready when I needed it. You can use a stainless steel lined thermos or water bottle to store it in once it cools, or a glass jelly jar, pasta sauce jar, etc, as long as it's been cleaned thoroughly. Hope this helps!
posted by racersix6 at 8:22 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]

I used one of those things for years without really giving it a second thought, I didn't use distilled water. I'm still here FWIW.
posted by Sunflowers Beneath the Snow at 8:49 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]

apparently there's a distilled water shortage so my pharmacist told me to use filtered water that has been boiled then cooled down to room temp
posted by Jacqueline at 10:58 PM on August 14

Same as Sunflowers Beneath the Snow; I run hot tap water and Neti with that. Have done so on and off for ~ 20 years now; no issues. (I understand that in some places tap water is not advisable but just another data point). I am usually in a large midwestern city.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:20 AM on August 15

Best answer: It's now possible to buy nasal rinse systems with an incorporated filter, so you don't have to boil the water in advance. I picked one up at my local CVS for about $17. It makes it much easier to do the daily rinse.
posted by suelac at 8:51 AM on August 15

My ENT doc is not your ENT doc, but mine told me it was OK to use non-distilled bottled water in a pinch.
posted by doift at 10:16 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]

I mean, just think about what the water is doing and where it's going and what your normal water source is. Have you ever vomited, and had municipal water in your stomach? Maybe some came out your nose? Or swam?

It's got to be extremely unlikely your local water source if it is drinkable and legal is going to kill you if it just reaches your sinus cavity. You shower under it, swim in it, drink it. Around my parts tap water is chlorinated and treated and it ought to be basically safe. It's smarter to use distilled water, but it's not like you're risking your life as much as you did driving to a store to buy water.
posted by Sunflowers Beneath the Snow at 10:44 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]

My allergy doctor put me onto neti pot type nasal rinses. I just use a device I got at the pharma. The allergist told me that the other docs he worked with all did the rinses with distilled water but he didn't bother, just used tap water which is what I have used ever since. If you live in a large municipal area (I was in L.A.), the tap water is very safe. (I've been to one of the main treatment plants and it is very impressive.)
posted by charlesminus at 10:54 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I had this dilemma about ten years ago and the solution I’ve been using since then is a portable UV water purifier:

Battery lasts forever and can be charged via USB, it’s small and portable and I just use warm tap water which I then purify with this thing in a glass and then use in my sinus rinse.
posted by rbf1138 at 8:35 PM on August 16

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