Bottled Water: Not All Water Is Created Equal!

Photo by jenny downing via Flickr

Photo by jenny downing via Flickr

Stacey wanted to cut some unnecessary calories from her diet, so that she could lose a few pounds.  She thought the best place for her to reduce her calories was to replace her soft drinks and lattes with water.  The big problem was that she couldn’t stand the way that the tap water at her apartment tasted.  Besides, it was slightly yellow.  There was no way that she was drinking that.

There was nothing for it, but to get some bottled water.  She thought about getting some five gallon jugs that she could refill, but she wasn’t up to lugging those up two flights of stairs.  Instead, she decided to buy some one liter bottles.  She would be in and out of the supermarket in just a few minutes, she thought.  No muss, no fuss.  When she got to the water section though, she was astounded by all the varieties and brands available.  The shelves were packed with more types and brands of water than she cared to count.  What was the difference between the different waters?  What should she buy?

Stacey’s confusion is not unusual.  Buying bottled water can be confusing.  There are so many different types to choose from and at least a few brands in each category.  It is not even clear to many people what the difference is between the different types of water.

What do the labels mean?
Labeling often provides very little information about what processing (if any) the water underwent.  However, all bottled waters have one thing in common.  They all contain water.  I know.  Not very helpful.  But the difference lies in the source of the water and what processing the water underwent before being sold to the public.  Here are 7 different types that you will encounter at the store when buying water:

  1. Mineral water: This water contains minerals and usually comes from a natural well or a spring.  If you buy “natural mineral water” you get the minerals that are present in the water as it comes from the ground.  If it is only labeled as “mineral water” it could have had minerals added or removed.  Mineral water comes in both regular and flavored varieties.
  2. Distilled water: This contains little to no minerals and is essentially sodium free.  It might be the “purest” of all the waters, but it is the minerals that give water it’s satisfying taste, not to mention necessary nutrients.  Distilled water usually tastes dead and flat.  It is mainly used for steam irons and steam cleaners because it won’t cause rust or clogging because it is free of heavy minerals and metals.  If you were to drink distilled water, you might need to supplement your diet to make up for the missing minerals.
  3. Purified water: This water has gone through a treatment process where specific minerals and/or contaminants have been removed.  Purified water usually comes from tap water which has undergone reverse osmosis, charcoal filtering and/or been treated with ultraviolet light at a water store or at a grocery store.  It could also be spring or well water which has been filtered, deionized and/or ozonated.  This water might have had needed minerals removed as well.  So, you might need to supplement your diet to make up for the missing minerals in this water also.
  4. Spring water: This water has naturally risen to the surface of the earth.  Spring water is mainly used for drinking, making beverages and in cooking.  Bottles labeled “natural spring water” may not have been processed prior to being bottled.  This can be an issue if the water comes from a contaminated ground source.  The best spring water is water that comes from a non-industrial area where there are few pollutants.
  5. Sparkling water: This is the all inclusive term for carbonated water.  If you are trying to avoid or limit sodium, this is probably not the water for you because most are high in sodium.
  6. Seltzer: This is water (usually tap water) that has been filtered and carbonated with no minerals or salt added. Some seltzers contain sugar or corn syrup.  So, if you are trying to avoid sugar or watch your calories, make sure to read the ingredient list prior to buying.  However, there are some flavored seltzer drinks that contain a very small amount of fruit flavoring and contain no calories, sugar or mineral salts.
  7. Club soda: This is water (once again, usually tap water) that has been filtered, carbonated and mixed with a variety of minerals and mineral salts to give it a distinctive flavor associated with the brand producing that drink.  However, most tend to be high in sodium.  So, if you are on a reduced sodium diet, you should probably avoid club soda.

The bottom line:
Even though all bottled waters are water at their core, there are still quite a few differences between them.  That is why it is important to understand the labeling terminology, so that you can make the best choice for your specific needs. You don’t want to buy water and later on find out that you purchased one that didn’t fit your needs or tastes.  Plus, you don’t want to add too much extra salt or sugar to your diet or eliminate some needed minerals without somehow replacing them.  So, if you need a bottled water for some reason, study up before you buy one.

Comments (3)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Maria Isabel says:

    This is a terrific podcast! I liked the wonderful details that you gave me about the different water available out there. Thanks

  2. […] July 2008 ← Bottled Water: Not All Water Is Created Equal! […]

  3. Cool site, love the info.

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.