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When you go to reach for a bottle of water, many different labels present a dilemma. We all want to have the purest and healthiest drinking experience possible, but which type of water will provide it? Spring water has a nice ring to it, but purified water just sounds so…pure. What’s the difference between them anyway? Does it even matter?
If you’ve been wondering which choice you should be making or if it even makes a difference, we’re going to explore the differences between these two types of water so that you know exactly what you’re drinking. Afterward, we’re going to talk about which one is better for your overall health so you can make an informed decision next time you reach for a water bottle.
What is Spring Water?
When you think of spring water, your mind may conjure up images of a mountain brook with crisp water coming straight from the ground. This is what manufacturers want you to think, but the reality isn’t quite so glamorous. Most of the spring water you’re drinking is pumped into trucks from an underground spring. The trucks then transport the water to a facility, where it will be processed and bottled.
Though the name is appealing, spring water contains many of the same contaminants as tap water. To be transported by truck, the water must be chlorinated or ozonated, so it’s already going to be full of chemicals. It is treated through a carbon filtration process once at the bottling facility. This process will remove the chlorine, which can make it a superior alternative to water from the tap. However, many of the other substances such as metals and nitrates will still be left behind.
Since it’s not purified, spring water will still contain many of the minerals that are essential for your health, even if it’s carrying other contaminants as well. This is one upside to spring water since purified water is devoid of any substances, including the minerals that you need.
What is Purified Water?
Purified water is any water that’s been processed and treated until it contains 10 parts per million or less of dissolved solids. Several different types of water purification exist to get water down to this level. Reverse osmosis, distillation, and ion-exchange are all viable methods of purifying water. When you perform purification, everything is stripped from the water. Chemicals, bacteria, sediment, metals, minerals, and more will all be completely removed. This leaves the water empty and bland, since some of the missing minerals are what gives water its flavor.
How to Purify Water
There are several ways to purify water. Two of the most popular and accessible methods are distillation and reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis is performed by an RO system that is usually installed under the sink and provides purified water to its own dedicated faucet. This system usually consists of several different filters and RO membranes, which will strip all impurities from the water. To help reinstate the essential minerals, a special filter is often included at the last stage of filtration.
A water distiller will boil the water, catching the steam that is released and leaving behind the contaminants. Once captured in the condenser, the steam will be cooled until it turns back into water. The water is then passed through a carbon filter for one final stage of filtration. Then it is collected in the form of pure, distilled water. This process takes 4-6 hours to produce a single gallon of distilled water.
Is Purified or Spring Water Healthier?
Most of us want to feel confident that we’re drinking the cleanest and purest water. To that end, you’re probably wondering whether you should be drinking spring water or purified water. The truth is, they both have tradeoffs that are good or bad for your health.
Purified water has been completely stripped of all substances and contaminants. There are no bacteria to make you sick, no sediment particles to feel in your mouth, or chemicals to slowly poison you. But there are also no minerals. You should be getting plenty of minerals in your diet already, but removing a source of minerals has the potential to cause deficiencies. Some water purification systems such as reverse osmosis fix this problem by reintroducing the essential minerals. Water purified through such methods is the healthiest choice for drinking.
Spring water still contains all of the essential minerals that are important for your health and also give water its taste. Other contaminants can also be present though, such as metals, nitrates, chlorine, and other chemicals. Some of these may have been used in the transportation and processing of the water, but others may have been present in the original source spring. Either way, you’ll be getting those unwanted tagalongs with the desirable minerals, and there’s no way to separate them.
Though spring water and purified water both sound similar, they are actually quite different. Spring water is not purified, but rather processed and treated. It still contains minerals that are essential for your health and contribute to good taste, but impurities like metals, nitrates, and more can still be present as well. On the other hand, purified water has been processed and treated until it contains only 10 parts per million of dissolved solids or less. This means that it has been stripped of all essential minerals, but it’s also devoid of unwanted contaminants such as bacteria, chemicals, sediments, and more. It will also tend to taste flat since it’s missing the minerals that give flavor to water. Some forms of purification such as reverse osmosis will reintroduce the essential minerals making it the healthiest option for drinking.
Featured image credit: Michael-T, Pixabay
David Slone runs the TapIt Water blog. He first learned about water filtration and the impact it has on the world in College. Ever since that day he has worked towards making the world a better place. He writes to inform you about water filtration, the consequences of plastics, bottled water, and how we can do things better.
He loves to spend time with his beloved wife, 3 kids, and dog when he’s not writing.