Here’s a common scenario, you’re walking down the aisle in a grocery store and you come across the water aisle. There are several different kinds including purified, spring, distilled, artesian, electrolyte, mineral, etc. Of course they all vary in pricing so you might be thinking “What’s the big deal? Water is water, right? It’s all healthy and it’s all the same! I drink enough to stay hydrated and that’s enough for me.” So you proceed to pick the cheapest case and move on.
Oofta do we have some news for you!
Water is not just water and it’s definitely not all the same. Unlike tap water, regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and is classified under three main categories: spring water, mineral water, and purified drinking water.
The most popular misconception about spring water is that it is “pure” water. Spring water comes from an underground source from which water naturally rises to the surface and contains many of the impurities found in drilled wells or even tap water.
“Well, my spring water says 100% pure!” That is also a common misconception. 100% pure, when it comes to spring water, refers to the source of water itself. Meaning, 100% of the water in the bottle came from an underground source rather than from surface water. Though these cleverly used advertising techniques are legal, they may be misleading. Another misleading advertising term is “natural”, or “pure and natural” natural is a very vague term and doesn’t mean purified. Take for example the Potomac River. It is very natural and can be advertised as so, however, you don’t see people lining up to drink handfuls from the river.
So, how do they bottle this “natural and pure” spring water? Well, the answer is not so “natural and pure.” Spring water is more than likely NOT bottled at the source. Most of the time the water is pumped into large tanker trucks for transportation to the bottling facility. Health regulations dictate that the water in those tankers must be either chlorinated or ozonated at all times to protect against bacterial contamination. If the water is chlorinated the water is virtually indistinguishable from chlorinated tap water. Once the water reaches the facility a carbon filtration process is used to remove the chlorine. However, most of the other impurities remain. To remove some of those impurities the water will go through a microfiltration to take out floating particles and perhaps subjected to more ozonation before being bottled.
Mineral water is water from a mineral spring that contains various minerals such as salts and sulfur compounds. This may lead to an effervescent effect due to contained gases. Traditionally, mineral water was used or consumed at their spring source. Civilization eventually developed around these waters and people used them for spas or baths. Today it is more common for mineral water to be bottled for distribution consumption. Getting to the mineral water site for direct access is rare, and in many cases, impossible due to exclusive ownership rights. Unlike tap water, mineral water comes from natural springs or wells and does not receive any treatments before human consumption other than a physical process of filtration.
Purified Drinking Water
Purified drinking water is purer than other types of water. To meet the legal definition of purified water, water impurities must be removed or reduced to extremely low levels. Water that meets this definition is of higher purity than spring water, tap water, or filtered water.
Even though purified water is, well, purified, there are many misconceptions about this water. Purified water is often confused with filtered water or tap water. Although both waters are subjected to a filtration process, purified water undergoes much more extensive purification, most often reverse osmosis, distillation or decolonization. Unlike spring water or mineral water, purified drinking water can come from spring or surface or groundwater or even directly from the tap. This is because the purification process is designed to remove virtually any and all types of impurities; however, the water does initially have to meet the EPA minimum drinking water standards before processing. If you are buying water for higher quality and higher purity reasons, then purified drinking water is your best choice.
If that’s not enough to convince you lets take a look at the parts per million (ppm) of total dissolved solids (tds) of the aforementioned waters.
Tap Water – contains 300 – 400 ppm of tds
Spring Water – contains many dissolved minerals (iron, calcium, sulfate, potassium, magnesium etc,) – contains 300 – 500 ppm of tds
Mineral Water – contains many dissolved minerals (iron, calcium, sulfate, potassium, magnesium etc,) – contains 250 ppm of tds
Purified Water – contains a maximum of 10 ppm of tds
Which water will you drink?