Concerns over water purity have been on the rise in the United States. With disasters like the water crisis of Flint in Michigan, people are becoming cautious of the origin and safety of their water.
The decision ultimately comes down to spring water vs purified water. Here’s everything you need to know to help you decide.
Spring Water vs Purified Water
Water meant for consumption is mainly divided into 2 categories: spring water and purified water. Spring water comes from the ground whereas purified water is processed to remove toxic elements.
Both spring water and purified water have to pass FDA guidelines and meet the safety standards set by the Environment Protection Agency before it is sold for consumption by the public.
You might think that water is just water, but there are many differences between spring water and purified water. To choose between them, you need to understand how they differ from one another.
What Is Spring Water?
The EPA specifies spring water as water that rises and flows to the surface from an underground water body. It is also sold under different names like ‘well’ water or ‘ground’ water.
When water flows to the surface, it passes through natural elements that remove impurities. It is collected at the surface and tested for impurities before being sold as bottled water.
A lot of people think that the natural filtration process results in minerally rich water which is beneficial to health. Spring water may or may not be filtered further, it depends on the distributor and the quality of the water.
How Is Spring Water Made?
When there is a large amount of water in an underground water basin, it ‘springs’ to the surface. As it rises through the ground, it passes through the bedrock, which acts as a natural purifier.
The natural filtration process makes it completely clear and removes all impurities. Many people prefer drinking it with no further processing to reap the benefits of the minerals present in the water.
However, natural spring water is not always safe to drink. It might have pathogens or parasites that are harmful to human health. This is why bottled spring water is filtered and tested by the FDA to ensure its safety.
Filtration does not get rid of the minerals present in the water, so it still has that refreshing natural taste after being filtered.
What Is Purified Water?
Purified water is typically well water or underground water that has gone through a thorough filtration process. First, sediments and large impurities are removed followed by filtration to remove chemicals, pathogens and toxic elements like copper and lead.
There are strict guidelines in place to ensure the quality of purified water. The level of all impurities in the water must be less than 10 parts per million to be able to be classified as purified water.
How Is Purified Water Made?
Purified water can be made from any source of water. Even tap water can be processed and turned into purified water. There are several different steps in the purification process. These are the basic treatments undergone by purified water:
- Flocculation: First of all, chemicals with a positive charge are added to the water. This reacts with negatively charged chemicals present in the water like pollutants and dirt.
This process also coagulates the impurities and forms bigger particles known as floc.
- Sedimentation: The particles of floc are denser than water, so they sink to the bottom. The water above is clear and cleaner than before.
- Filtration: The water then passes through a number of different filters like gravel, charcoal, etc. They remove impurities of different sizes like dust, bacteria, chemical pollutants and other harmful impurities.
- Disinfection: Lastly, a chemical disinfectant is added to the water to get rid of any bacteria or pathogens, leaving it safe to drink.
Chlorine is the most common disinfectant, followed by chloramine. Disinfectant levels are closely monitored to ensure they are not added in toxic amounts.
Spring Water vs Purified Water: Sources
Spring water comes from underground aquifers that exist below the natural water table. It usually shows up in areas that have a lot of bedrock.
Mountain valleys and hillsides are common spots for spring water to emerge. Sometimes boreholes are used to directly harvest it from underground.
Spring water usually comes from natural water reserves, EPA-approved water sources and underground basins.
Water from any kind of source can be filtered to create purified water. Ground water, tap water, well water or recycled water is passed through many levels of filtration to make purified water.
The source is of little importance, as the distinction comes from the filtration process.
Spring Water vs Purified Water: Purification Process
Spring water passes through an amazing natural filtration process. It passed through rocks which act as a filter and remove debris and sediments.
Spots with limestone bedrock make very good natural filters as the water easily slows through the soft rocks and absorbs essential nutrients along the way.
On the other hand, purified water passes through many levels of purification like coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration and disinfection. All these steps make it safe to drink.
Sometimes, it passes through further filtration at home, like:
- RO: RO or reverse osmosis is a filtration process that uses membranes to get rid of minerals in the water.
- Distilling: Distilling refers to boiling water until it becomes steam to remove impurities. The steam then condenses to water again.
- Deionization: Mineral salts are used to exchange ions within the water. Hydrogen and hydroxide replace all the dissolved minerals in the water.
- Ozonation: In this process, ozone is introduced to the water to disinfect it. Ozone is frequently used in substitution for chlorine as it has a remarkable taste.
- 1 Micron Filtration: This is a filtration method in which water is passed through tiny filters that are smaller than 1 micron.
Spring Water vs Purified Water: Health Benefits
Spring water is safe to drink and has a lot of minerals that are beneficial to the body. Many people feel that it tastes a lot better and is more refreshing than purified water.
There are also fewer chances of it being contaminated by the chemicals used in the filtration process.
Purified water is completely safe for consumption. It is free of harmful pathogens, viruses or bacteria that could be quite harmful to you or your family members.
It is water in its most basic form—there are no additives or chemical treatments. Even plants respond better to purified water as it doesn’t have any hard to absorb minerals.
Spring Water vs Purified Water: Disadvantages
Spring water is a very rare resource and thus quite expensive. The EPA has to supervise and regulate water reserves to prevent water piracy. Strict measures have to be followed to ensure that spring water is safe to drink.
Since it does not go through a purification process, natural spring water could contain parasites or harmful microorganisms.
Purified water on the other hand is completely safe to drink. However, essential nutrients like sodium, calcium and magnesium are removed in the purification process.
Spring Water vs Purified Water: Which Is Better?
There is no specific answer to this question. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Which one suits you best depends on the factors important for you.
If natural, refreshing taste and essential nutrients are very important to you, you should opt for spring water. However, make sure that the source of spring water is legitimate and safe. If you are traveling and not sure of the source, avoid spring water.
If you want neutral tasting, absolutely clean water, choose purified water. There is no danger of pathogens or harmful bacteria or viruses.
Both are safe to drink, so you can choose whichever one you prefer.
Does Steam-Distilled Water Count as Purified Water?
Purified water sometimes goes through distillation to further purify it. When purified water is converted to steam, it leaves behind solid sulfates.
All bacteria and protozoa die from extreme heat. The steam is channeled to a different container where it condenses. This is perhaps the purest form of water.
Distillation is a very thorough filtration process. It removes all minerals and nutrients from the water. Steam-distilled water is used for specific purposes.
What Is Filtered Water?
Technically, both spring water and purified water count as filtered water. All water meant for human use goes through a filtration process, so even tap water is filtered water.
Spring water is naturally filtered through rock beds, whereas purified water goes through a thorough filtration process to make it safe to drink.
Both forms of water are safe to drink. All types of water have to go through a filtration process and meet safety standards to make them safe to drink.
The kind of water you choose depends on personal preferences. Spring water has more nutrients and has a very unique taste. Purified water tastes completely neutral and has been thoroughly filtered to make it safe to drink.