The Truth About Spring Water
SimpleWater Reports On The Basic Definitions of Spring Water And How Spring Water Pertains To Your Tap and Bottled Water Choices.
There is a lot of misconception regarding what exactly constitutes “spring water,” and many of the uncertainty arises from misleading marketing.
We’re going to take a few minutes and cut through the nonsense, accurately explaining just what spring water is, its purity levels, and how bottled water companies can mislead the public.
What You Might Want to Know
What is Spring Water?
This is a slightly more involved query than you might imagine. Spring water, as its name implies, is water that comes from a spring as opposed to a river, lake, or stream. A spring forms in nature when water flows from an aquifer beneath the earth up to the surface.
Water In An Aquifer
The Environmental Protection Agency defines spring water as water that is gathered from an underground aquifer that may or may not be treated after it is collected. This is an important point, as some consumers believe that spring water is a “pure” form of water that has been left primarily untreated. This is not always the case.
Spring water is either collected as it flows to the surface naturally or via a borehole, which is a narrow shaft bored into the ground to extract water or other liquids and gases from underground. Springs are often found in valleys and hillsides.
Spring Water: Is It “Purified Water?”
We’ve covered that spring water should not be confused with water from a river, lake, or stream, and that it doesn’t come from a well, but all spring water is purified water, right?
No. Not all spring water is purified water.
The EPA defines “purified water” as water from any source, spring or otherwise, that has been treated in accordance with the U.S. Pharmocopeiadefinition of purified water. This definition outlines purified water as effectively free of all chemicals (cannot exceed 10 parts per million (ppm) of total dissolved solids). Additionally, purified water may also be clear of microbes when treated either through reverse osmosis or distillation processes. However, microbe-free quality is not guaranteed.
See SimpleWater’s Report, Test Before You Treat.
Spring water can be purified through the above means and then labeled as “purified water,” or alternatively labeled on the bottle in accordance with the treatment method it underwent. However, there are forms of bottled spring water that are “pure” from the source and have not been purified or otherwise treated after the fact. An example is Summit Spring and their “raw water,” which they tout as bottled water from a Maine spring that has not undergone any treatment or filtration.
Bottled Spring Water Mysteries
Even when armed with the knowledge of how agencies such as the EPA define spring water, there are still mysteries surrounding bottled variants. Surprisingly, ‘where does it come from and how was it treated?’ are two questions that bottled water companies won’t always give you answers to.
While some bottled water companies are clear in listing where their spring water comes from, often times you can’t actually find out where the water in your bottle was sourced. A 2011 Environmental Working Group (EWG) survey reveals that 18% of 173 bottled water products surveyed neglect to list the location of their water source, while a whopping 32% of products include no information as to the treatment, or lack thereof, of their water.
Although some spring water bottles contain vague source attributions such as “mountain water” or “glacier water,” the EPA advises you disregard such information, as these labels are under no regulation and likely don’t indicate anything of value.
Turning Back to Tap
If you’re primarily drinking bottled spring water, you may want to reconsider.
The EWG is on record as recommending that you consider tap water as your primary drinking water source, as it is more frequently tested and treatedthan bottled water, and the source of the water is more readily apparent. Despite claims of purity, bottled water can still contain contaminants such as arsenic, phthalates, and coliform, reports the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
If making a switch back to the tap, it is important to understand that tap water carries its own potential problems and concerns <link to “test before you treat” article>. Bearing this in mind, consider SimpleWater’s Tap Score home water test. Tap Score is a professional home water test that checks for more than 100 contaminants and provides you and your family with a full drinking water quality report within two weeks.
What's the difference between distilled water, spring water and purified water?
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