Bottled water is a big business and all signs point to the fact that it is still growing by leaps and bounds. Is bottled water just the latest health fad? In all honesty when we started research on this we truly believed it was. After reviewing as much material as we could find we now have a slightly different opinion.
Water contains no nutrients but is vital to our health. An amazing 50-70% of our body is made up of it. Most experts recommend 6-8 glasses a day minimum.
Look at a map of the world and you will see water everywhere. So why are we willing to hand over more than a dollar for 16 ounces of bottled water? Taste, of course! But there’s more to the story so we will do our best to explain.
Where is all the water?
Almost 97% of water on earth is salt water in the oceans.
2% is ice
.8% is ground water
.2% is rivers, lakes, and springs
This article is about the 1% of water available for human consumption. We know desalinization of salt water is now available. However it is not yet a viable source of water for the average consumer.
Safety of municipal water is the responsibility of the Environmental Protection Agency. The FDA is responsible for bottled water but uses many of the EPA standards.
Bottled water must be labeled
According to the FDA all bottled water must be labeled as to the type of water used. There are 6 types total; spring water, artesian water, purified water, distilled water, sparkling water, and mineral water. Mineral water is considered a health supplement and sparkling water is considered a soft drink.
Let us start by explaining the basics of each:
- Spring water ‘ Water that flows underground and naturally surfaces
- Artesian water ‘ Similar to spring water but remains underground below the aquifers ( aquifer is simply an underground pool of water, the source of well water)
- Purified water ‘ Water that has the chemical and/or bacterial, and/or suspended material purified by man
- Distilled water ‘ Water that has gone through the evaporation-condensation process to remove solids
- Sparkling water ‘ Water that is naturally or manually saturated with large amounts of carbon dioxide
- Mineral water ‘ Water that has over 250 ppm of minerals suspended in it naturally
Since sparkling water and mineral water are not classified as bottled water we will not discuss them any further in this article.
In taste tests the lower the mineral content the better the water was judged. Municipal water generally scored low because they are treated with chlorine to purify. Bottled water manufacturers use ozone (a form of oxygen) and other methods to purify water that leaves less of a taste in the water. Choosing a brand is a matter of taste and choice of the waters source.
Here are some brand choices sold in the U.S. that We were able to locate their source:
Natural spring water with little or no treatment
Evian Natural Spring Water
Trinity Natural Mineral (dietary supplement)
Artesian or Natural spring water that has been treated
Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water
Fiji Natural Artesian Water
Poland Springs Water
Sierra Natural Spring Water
Municipal water that has been treated
Alhambra (with minerals added)
Dasani (with minerals added)
There are many other brands available and all are required to list the source of the water that is inside. Keep in mind that water listed as purified or distilled without further explanation is probably municipal water. Read the label!
The top selling bottled water in the U.S. during 1999 were:
Poland Springs- $406.2 million- 7.8% of market
Arrowhead- $315 million- 6% of market
Aquafina- $289 million- 5.5% of market
Sparkletts- $246.5 million- 4.7% of market
Evian- $219 million- 4.2% of market
Deer Park- $167.4 million- 3.2% of market
Crystal Springs- $157.4 million- 3% of market
Alpine Springs- $151.4 million- 2.9% of market
Understanding that even municipal water isn’t free may justify purchasing bottled water for the better taste. Keep in mind that the larger the quantity of bottled water you buy the cheaper the cost.
No health affects (good or bad) have been shown from drinking bottled water. We have changed our position about bottled water for one reason. Most women do not drink enough water each day. If the taste or convenience of bottled water will mean a higher consumption of water than We’re all for it.
To learn more about bottled water versus municipal water visit the FDA site.