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I'm considering the idea of drinking water that I trap from what is transpired by trees.

Interestingly, is this water a fairly (or maybe even extraordinarily) pure form of H₂O, a remarkably pure by-product of the respiration / evapotranspiration processes - so does the process give off a fairly distilled form of water into the atmosphere - or is there actually a fairly measurable amount of trace elements that also are transpired in that water through the leaves?

A second complication which would be good to clarify, is that even if minerals / other chemicals are excreted along with the H₂O, would condensing that water in a water trap still only collect the pure H₂O anyway?

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It will depend a bit on the specimen of tree / plant that is doing the transpiration. Minerals will typically stay behind during evaporation, but volatile compounds (think the minty smell of Eucalyptus) would evaporate at the same time as the water, and might condense (in some concentration) at the same time as well; this will depend a bit on the temperature of the leaf, the relative humidity of the air (lower will favor evaporation - higher means there is a lot of moisture already in the air, and you don't necessarily know where it came from) and the temperature of the surface used for condensation (lower condensation temperature will trap things besides water).

Note - this is more a physicist's answer than a biologist's... betraying my background here.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. That answer helps. Yeah this is one of those questions that straddles more than one scientific area of discipline to know / understand / explain it. Still, I class this sort of topic as 'biological knowledge' with the help of chemical principles, and indeed chemistry does not always explain biological phenomena in and of itself! Now I wonder, wouldn't some minerals themselves be contained in volatile compounds anyway? Unless they tend to just be too heavy- I wonder! I suppose the definitive answer in the end is to just find research that has simply measured all this, in a robust way. $\endgroup$ – user3362 Aug 22 '14 at 22:53
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The minerals will stay behind. They are too heavy to be transported via the vacuoles of MOST, and most must be stressed when dealing with plants, plants during transpiration. Though the water-soluble compounds- including the volatile compounds mentioned like terpenes and even flavonoids will and can exit during transpiration. Terpenes are not bad for humans, the term volatile refers only to the reactivity, not whether or not it is bad.

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