Drowning in bottled water confusion? Swim through the basics
Buying a bottle of water can feel like you’re treading in the deep end. Consumers are overwhelmed walking through aisles of distilled water, spring water, artesian water, purified water, sparkling water and mineral water. There’s also regular tap water. Isn’t water just water? Yes, technically, but not all bottled water is equal. Stop drowning in the differences between types of water and swim through these bottled water basics.
First, tap water flows from surface water sources, through treatment facilities and to your home. Tap water is inexpensive compared to bottled water, but many people have concerns about quality. In fact, there are cases of unsafe tap water, but more often than not it’s safe to drink without health risks. Many consumers report taste as their main motivation to buy bottled water. In blind taste tests, however, tap water consistently stands up against popular bottled water brands.
Interestingly, most bottled water is classified as spring water. Bottled water labels usually use words like mountain spring water or natural spring water. Spring water is pulled to the surface from an underground source. The water is treated and bottled at a separate location. Trucks designed to transport the water are treated with chlorine or other chemicals to protect against bacteria. This process concerns some consumers, but chemical levels are regulated and monitored.
In addition, artesian water is drawn from wells that lie deep under layers of earth. Layers of rock are said to protect these water sources, called aquifers, from contaminants. Aquifers are under pressure, which forces the water to a higher level. This is where bottled water companies pull water for their artesian water.
Next, purified water goes through a cleansing process to eliminate chemicals or contaminants. Compared to spring water, tap water or filtered water, purified water goes through additional cleansing steps. This source of this water is not as important as the filtration, distillation and purification processes. The purification system aims to eliminate impurities to get the highest quality of drinking water.
Distilled water goes through some serious filtration to remove contaminants and minerals. If you drink this water, your body won’t absorb any of the beneficial natural minerals found in water, but you can be confident that you’re not drinking any bad stuff. Distilled water is also great to use in steam irons or other small appliances, because it won’t cause buildup.
Sparkling water is bubbly from carbon dioxide. Water naturally contains carbon dioxide. When water is treated, the carbon dioxide is lost. Sparkling water adds carbon dioxide back into the drink. Carbonated water, seltzer water or soda water are all different terms referring to sparkling water. Flavored sparkling waters have additional sweeteners and dyes that can make them more desirable to consumers, but less healthy overall.
Mineral water is groundwater that contains a bunch of natural compounds. Sometimes mineral water is fizzy because it contains natural gases. To maintain the natural minerals, mineral water is bottled directly from the source, without receiving purification treatments
Bottled water cost
Bottled water is drawn from several different sources and treated in a lot of different ways. This affects the taste, which is why people prefer one brand over another. At the end of the day though, bottled water is still water. When you consider the cost of bottled water, there’s a significant price difference between bottles that cost less than a dollar and luxury water brands that cost hundreds of dollars. The way bottled water is packaged and marketed to consumers determines the price. The quality of expensive bottled water brands will be more or less the same as cheaper versions.
Glass bottles or plastic?
People pay for fancy looking water bottles. Many of these bottles are made of glass, which is generally seen as more environmentally friendly. Glass bottles are known to preserve water quality and taste. These bottles are washed for reuse, reducing the number of water bottles that fill landfills. Recycling glass bottles has limits, because glass can only be recycled into other glass products. However, glass will not lose integrity during this process, so you can recycle it over and over without any problems.
There is a big push to recycle glass and plastic water bottles. Experts are saying that plastic water bottles recycling is more of a “downcycling” process. Plastic can be broken down and used in a number of different materials, such as carpets, but the recycling methods cause plastic to lose quality. Basically, plastic water bottles can’t be recycled into more plastic water bottles.
Bottled water fills the shelves of every gas station, convenient shop and grocery store. With all the options, consumers are drowning in the differences. These bottled water basics will keep you swimming through marketing tricks and confusing vocabulary words. Now that you’ve got your feet wet, you’ll be able to dive into the bottled water market and make an educated purchase.