Where does water go when you drink it?

You've taken a sip of water - what happens next? Where does it go?

By: Aditi Pai

Water is the foundation that all known life is built upon. From the most basic cells to the most complex animals, nothing that we know of can survive without it. Water serves a massive variety of essential functions, from helping us absorb nutrients to regulating body temperature. So, what exactly happens when you drink water, and where does it go when you drink it? 

In this article, we will explain water’s journey through the human body including the water digestion process and why water is so crucial to our survival and health.

What happens when you drink water?

When you drink water, it travels through your body in a quick but complex process as it has many more roles than just quenching your thirst. By hydrating well, your body can perform at its best. Water’s journey begins when it’s ingested through the mouth. 

The first big step in the process is the body registering hydration. After a few gulps of water, the brain will generally convince the body — prematurely – that the body has had enough to drink. This is an important hydration mechanism because it takes a long time for the water consumed to reach cells and provide them with sufficient hydration. If the brain registered hydration only after cells received water, people would be drinking way more than the body really needs. The communication between the brain and mouth directs people to stop drinking, even if the water hasn’t fully hydrated the system yet.

After you drink water, here’s where it goes:

1. The esophagus (a small pipe connected to the mouth)

2. The stomach

3. The small and large intestine

5. Blood

6. The liver

7. The heart

8. Blood again

9. Cells

10. Blood again 

11. The kidneys

12. The bladder

13. The urinary tract

And finally, water is excreted from the human body.

How does water leave your body?

Once the body utilizes all of the water it needs to function efficiently, it then begins the process of removing excess water. Water leaves the body in four main ways:

1. Through urination

Kidneys use water to filter toxins out of the body, but when the kidney has used as much as it needs; it gets rid of the rest through urine. Your hydration level determines how quickly your body will send water to your kidneys, which then goes to the bladder once it gets processed as urine. If you’re very hydrated, your body will send the excess water into the kidneys quickly because it’s not needed elsewhere. If you’re dehydrated, the water will be absorbed and sent to maintain vital functions before it eventually reaches the kidneys to remove toxins.

2. Through stool

Healthy fecal matter consists of 75% water and 25% solid matter. Once the small intestine has absorbed enough water to send throughout the body, it will pass the water along to the large intestine. When water reaches the large intestine, it will combine with solid matter to soften stool and aid digestion.

3. Through sweating

Sweat is a natural way the body regulates its temperature. It’s estimated that most individuals sweat at a rate of 500 to 700 mL per day, but people can sweat at a rate of up to one liter per hour during high-intensity exercise in a hot environment. While drinking water during exercise will help replace these fluids, the best strategy is to continuously drink water throughout the day to ensure adequate hydration.

4. Through breathing

The majority of the water you drink is absorbed into your bloodstream. Absorption occurs after water passes through the stomach and into the small intestine. The small intestine, at around 20 feet long, is the organ primarily responsible for water absorption through its walls and into the bloodstream. From here, water will travel to cells across the body, providing them with the hydration to perform daily functions efficiently.

The large intestine also absorbs some water to support digestion. A lot of people wonder how long water takes to digest but the thing is, water isn’t technically digested - it’s absorbed. However, it’s a crucial element for digestion, especially when digesting protein. Water should always be consumed with meals so that your body can properly digest and absorb the nutrients from food. Properly filtered water is ideal because it does not contain harmful chemicals and contaminants that can upset the digestive process. Fortunately, several types of water filters exist now for healthier and safer drinking water.


Claryum® 3-Stage Max Flow

Remove up to 99% of 77 contaminants, plus sediment. Now with 44% faster water flow for ultimate hydration.

How long does it take for water to go through your system?

The short answer: it’s different for everyone. The amount of water absorbed in the stomach and how quickly water is absorbed depends, in part, on how much has been eaten. If someone is drinking water on an empty stomach, they are more likely to experience a faster rate of water absorption – as quick as 5 minutes after taking a drink. Whereas, if a person has eaten a lot of food before they drink water, the speed of absorption will slow down accordingly and absorption could take up to a few hours.

The average person can process about 33.8 ounces of fluid per hour, but only 20% of the water that you drink actually makes it through the entire process to the bladder. Along the journey, water will stop to perform many other necessary errands like lubricating organs, removing waste, regulating body temperature, and aiding nutrient absorption. 

Many people wonder how long it takes to pee after drinking water, but it depends on a variety of factors. Generally, it takes your body 9 to 10 hours to produce 2 cups of urine. A properly hydrated person with an almost full bladder will need to urinate between five to fifteen minutes after drinking water. But for someone who’s dehydrated with an empty bladder, it could sometimes be up to nine hours before needing to urinate.

How long does it take for water to flush out toxins?

It depends on how hydrated a person is, as your body will likely eliminate toxic substances through urination. This is primarily the job of the kidneys, but to filter toxins efficiently, kidneys require a large amount of fresh water. If the kidney does not receive enough water, it could lead to health concerns including kidney stones and other kidney-related diseases. 

Fortunately, one way the kidneys inform someone of whether they’re providing their body with enough water is by concentrating the amount of water expelled through urine – thus changing the color of urine to bright yellow. Drinking filtered water is one of the best ways to support your kidneys because it can remove some of the toxins, reducing the strain on your body.

Filtered water can indeed make the water absorption process easier since there are fewer toxins and contaminants. Unfortunately, many contaminants are found in tap water including potential toxins. Because water affects so many parts of our bodies and health, it is crucial to drink healthier, filtered water that’s free of harmful toxins and contaminants.

One of the most effective water filters removes most harmful particulates while remineralizing the water. Aquasana’s SmartFlow® Reverse Osmosis filter effectively removes up to 90 harmful contaminants including more than 99.99% of asbestos and cysts, 99% of lead and microplastics, 96% of chlorine and arsenic, and 90% of fluoride in addition to several other tap water hazard in addition to a remineralizer to restore healthy minerals lost in the filtration process.

The better the water that we drink, the less work our bodies have to do with toxins and contaminants.