What Is The Difference Between Distilled, Purified, Mineral, Well, And Spring Water?

Here are the differences between well, spring, purified, distilled and mineral waters.

Strictly speaking, water is water. That is to say, all water on Earth is a compound of two hydrogen and one oxygen molecule. The difference between various types of bottled waters lies mainly in where the source is located and what processes the water goes through before it is sold to consumers. Not all bottled waters are recommended for drinking, so it is important to know the difference if your health plan includes increasing water intake or avoiding certain types of beverages.

Some types of bottled water, such as well or spring, get their designation from their original source. Mineral water must contain a specified amount of trace minerals naturally before it can be sold. Distilled or purified water must be put through a filtration or mechanical process in order to remove contaminants and minerals. Some water types may actually fit into several different categories- distilled water, for example, is also purified by definition. Spring and well waters make excellent refreshments during and after exercise, but distilled water lacks trace minerals and may not have a satisfying taste. Mineral water may have a natural sparkle and refreshing taste, but a little may go a long way.

Here's a closer look at each type of water and how each one fits in an everyday world.

1. Well water. Well water could be the source of other types of consumable bottle waters such as 'drinking' or regular tap water. The main definition of 'well water' is water that has been stored in permeable rocks and soil. If a drill is employed to find the original aquifer, then the collected water is considered 'well water'. Because it has spent time in contact with natural minerals, well water is generally an excellent drinking water. Some processing may be necessary because of possible contamination in the soil, but many private land owners have wells that last for years and the water is naturally healthy. Specific companies can market their bottled waters as 'well water' as long as they pass FDA standards and are clearly from a protected water source located underground. Some municipal waters may also come from underground sources, so ordinary tap water may also qualify as well water under the right circumstances.

2. Spring water. Well water and spring water are similar in the sense that they are both produced from natural aquifers located around rockbeds and soil. Spring water, however, continues naturally to the surface. Water which comes from below and has no natural tributaries is considered to be spring water. It's also a very good water to drink during and after exercise or throughout the day. Bottlers may use some natural processes such as reverse osmosis to improve water quality, but spring water must be naturally rich in trace minerals. Some municipalities also use spring water as a source for their tap waters, but they are processed with chemicals and more advanced filtration systems. Spring water is perhaps the best overall water for health benefits and rehydration. It has a good taste and is fairly inexpensive at grocery stores.

3. Mineral waters. Again, water is water and most bottled varieties will rehydrate the body effectively. Mineral water can come from a natural well or spring, but must contain a specified amount of trace minerals. These minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, are essential for good health. There is no difference between sparkling and non-sparkling mineral waters except for the concentration of carbon dioxide. Both varieties contain a higher concentration of minerals than either spring or well water. Because the water must meet specific requirements, the number of water sources that qualify is very limited. Most of the popular varieties of mineral waters are bottled in Europe and imported to the United States. This means that bottled mineral water is going to be more expensive than other types, but the benefits of the added minerals are measurable. Mineral water may be more of a treat than a daily refreshment, but it does offer some health benefits. Some may find the taste to be harsher than traditional water, but many bottlers offer flavored varieties that may be more palatable.

4. Distilled water. Distillation is a process by which water is boiled until vapor is produced. This vapor is collected and cooled until it returns to a liquid state. Because minerals are too heavy to be carried by the vapor, the resulting water is completely free of additives. A desalination plant is a perfect example of distillation- salt water is boiled, the vapor is cooled and collected, and the salt and minerals are left behind. However, distilled water is also very unpalatable in its natural state. Desalination plants must also add some minerals in order to make the water usable for general consumers.

Distilled water is perfect for applications where minerals and contaminants would cause problems. Distilled water can be used in irons for steam settings or as coolant for car engines. Because there are no minerals that can stain or build up, distilled water is mostly recommended for use in machinery and cleaning products. It is not particular good to drink distilled water, because it has a tendency to pull minerals out of the bloodstream and other areas. Distilled water is perhaps the cleanest version of bottled water available, but it is not good for human consumption.

5. Purified water. Purified water denotes a process by which contaminants and/or minerals have been removed from any water source. It could be tap water which has been forced through a charcoal filter or water treated with ultraviolet light at the grocery store. The designation 'purified' can be applied rather broadly, so a consumer should not be swayed by its use on a label alone. Distilled water is by definition purified, but it is not a good water for drinking. Spring and well waters may have been filtered or deionized or ozonated, which would make them pure by a looser definition.

There is some controversy surrounding the benefits of 'purified water'. Because the water may have been distilled for purity, it can leech out essential minerals as it travels through the body. Many soft drinks are made with purified water- a fact which disturbs many dieticians and health experts. Because of this natural tendency to pull minerals from the system, purified water is only recommended as part of an overall cleanse with a definite ending point, not as a daily rehydrator or replacement for other sources of water.

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