With more than 30 years’ experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Mark Nelson is a Class 1 Drinking-Water Operator and a CBWA (Canadian Bottled Water Association) Certified Plant Operator. As founder and president of Nelson Water in Ottawa, Mark focuses on dealing with challenging water treatment system designs for problem water. He also heads the largest water bottling plant in the city of Ottawa with a delivery network throughout the Valley.

Water is crucial for life. Our bodies are approximately 65% water, with the brain, heart, and lungs containing 75-85% water. It is impossible for us to survive without water for any significant length of time. Although we may be able to go without food for several weeks, we need to drink water several times a day to replenish lost fluid levels, and we cannot survive without water for more than two or three days. While drinking sufficient quantities of water is important, the quality of the water is also a consideration. So, here we’ll explore what the best types of drinking water actually are for our health and well being.

How Much Water Do We Need?

Research shows that women need to drink approximately two litres of water per day, while men require three litres. The difference relates to the fact that on average men have more body mass free of fat and have a higher expenditure of energy. The specific amount of water you need to drink to remain adequately hydrated can also depend on your age, activity level, and overall health.

While there are other fluids we can drink, water is the best choice as it is an efficient fluid for hydration, but we need to delve a little deeper to determine which type of water is the best choice.

Spring Water

When you’re out and about or visiting a nice restaurant, the water you’re most likely to gain access to is spring water. As the name suggests, spring water is collected from an underground source, via a spring. The primary benefit of spring water is that it is naturally filtered through the layers of rock to reach the spring. This means that spring water is naturally a little alkaline with nutrients that make the water taste unique.

Although there are many brands of spring water, only water that is sourced from an actual living spring is genuinely spring water. It is estimated that only 55% of bottled water on the market claiming to be spring water is genuinely spring water. This explains why many brands of spring water carry a hefty price tag on each bottle.

Mineral Water

Many people get confused between mineral and spring water. Essentially, mineral water is a spring water which has had more minerals added. Typically, mineral water contains 250 minerals per million solids. Many brands of sparkling mineral water are bottled with the same carbon dioxide as the spring source.

Due to the additional minerals in the water, mineral water can have a distinctive taste. This taste can be a little unpalatable for some because it lacks the pure taste we often associate with drinking water.

Distilled Water

Distilled water is created when pure water is boiled out of any contaminants. This process of distillation involves boiling the water to allow the purified water to turn to steam. This steam is captured and cooled to become the distilled water. While distilled water can lack the minerals found in spring or mineral water, the distilling process can remove potentially harmful chemicals, toxic metals and other contaminants from the water. Unfortunately, this can leave the water tasting a little flat, which makes it unappealing to many as a viable drinking water. Additionally, distilled water can develop an acidic pH, as it absorbs carbon dioxide when the water comes into contact with air.

Domestic Water Treatment

Fortunately, you don’t need to suffer the flat taste of distilled water or bear the expense of costly mineral and spring water, as there are some excellent domestic water treatment systems that can produce great tasting drinking water. Reverse osmosis systems can purify tap water to remove 99% of contaminants including bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, and other potentially harmful particles. The water is passed through a semi-permeable membrane, which allows the smaller water molecules to pass while capturing other molecules. This produces fresh, clean tasting water suitable for drinking or preparing meals.

There are many other types of domestic water treatment systems that can also improve water quality. The choice of device or system will be determined by the unique characteristics of your tap water. For example, if your water has a high sediment content, it may be applicable to have a carbon filter installed in a reverse osmosis system. This would allow any particles to be removed before they reach the RO membrane, which could be damaged by silt and other sediment particles.

Your water treatment system can be tailored to your specific needs, to account for local contamination issues or contaminants common in your geographical area. For example, if you live in an agricultural or industrial area where runoff may allow chemicals to enter local streams, lakes, rivers and other waterways that may compromise your water quality.

Even if your water supply is only affected by hard water, there is a suitable treatment option. Hard water is extremely common, which can not only impact energy efficiency and performance of water using appliances, but also create an unpalatable metallic taste. A water softener can be used to remove the excess calcium, magnesium, and iron causing the hardness.

Domestic water treatment devices are available as point of use or point of entry systems. This allows for your water to be treated in a specific location in your home, such as your kitchen sink or where the water enters your home. If the contaminants in your water only affect the quality of your drinking water, a point of use system is likely to be sufficient. If your water contains contaminants that may impact bathing, washing clothes, fixtures or water using appliances, a point of entry system may be more appropriate.

If you have concerns about your drinking water quality, be sure to speak to a water treatment professional. An experienced technician can not only assess your water to determine the levels of contaminants that may be impacting the aesthetics and safety of your water, but also guide you through the treatment options best suited to the unique characteristics of your water.