Let’s face it…most of your body is water. The average adult body is 50-75% water, which consists of 2/3 of our body weight. We need lots of water to stay healthy which is why it’s important to know what you’re drinking.
I recently went to the store to look for drinking water. WOW! The choices were overwhelming. I decided to look into the different types of water and what’s best to drink.
Here it goes…
Tap water (besides well water) is my least favorite water to drink. Even though it is intended for drinking and comes from a municipal source, it can have levels of certain contaminants such as lead that are “considered safe” for consumption. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates tap water, while the FDA oversees bottled water. The EPA does not regulate private wells, so if your tap water comes from a private well, make sure you get it tested every year for contaminants.
Purified water is free of chemicals and broken down into many choices. These include: distilled water, de-ionized, reverse osmosis, and carbon filtration. There are advantages and disadvantages with all of them.
When choosing a purified water system at home, look for one that lists all the contaminants the system is certified to remove and to what degree.
The other question over healthy water is choosing between de-mineralized water and filtered water with minerals. Demineralized water includes distilled water and de-ionized water. There are studies that argue both sides of this debate but I feel the benefits of drinking naturally balanced water with minerals vs de-mineralized water makes sense. I like the fact that water with minerals helps maintain a healthy alkaline PH balance. Anything we can do to keep our PH more alkaline, allows our bodies to heal and repair. Also long term consumption of de-mineralized water results in multiple mineral deficiencies.
There is no natural de-mineralized water on the planet. In nature all fresh water contains trace minerals such as magnesium, calcium and potassium which is what our body runs well on.
Distilled water is water stripped of contaminants (microbes) and minerals. It goes through a rigorous filtration process that purifies the water. I use distilled water in the fountains I have at home to limit the residue that you would otherwise see if you used tap water.
Reverse osmosis is a process that puts water under pressure to a semi-permeable membrane with a fine pore structure. This membrane is able to filter out contaminants and minerals. The portion of water that passes through is stripped of inorganic compounds and trace minerals. Some chemicals, like herbicides and pesticides are smaller, so a carbon filter must be used to remove these which requires more maintenance. This process typically wastes 2-3 gallons of water for every gallon it produces.
De-ionized water is somewhat similar in that the ions, such as sodium, calcium, iron, etc are removed by using an ion exchange process. You can use either de-ionized water or distilled water in small appliances, such as hot water urns or steam irons. You can also use this type of water in car radiators or mixing it with your antifreeze or windshield fluid.
Then there’s filtered water. This has emerged as a low cost alternative to tap water and bottled water. Pitchers and carafe filters are sold that are convenient and sold at a fairly low price. The cost of the replaceable filters is what gets you with those prices being higher and filters needing to be changed every 4 weeks. But, it’s still better than tap water.
There are carbon block and granular carbon filters. These are common countertop and under the sink systems. This system removes chemicals very well and is recognized by the US EPA as the best available technology for the removal of chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides and industrial chemicals.
Spring water is my favorite. It naturally comes from an underground source and may or may not have been treated and purified. If you can get it at a self serve spring where you can refill bottles, thats best. Be careful of bottled water labeled as spring water. Many times its just glorified tap or filtered water. To check the quality of your local tap water, check with the EPA. To find out about your favorite bottled water, go the the environmental working groups report on bottled waters.
References: Kirchner, C. Mother Nature Network. “What’s the difference between distilled water, spring water, and purified water?” Jan. 11, 2013.
http://www.dorchesterhealth.org/water.htm. The Health Benefits of Water.