Bottled waters come in many different varieties like distilled, purified, spring, but what's the difference? They're all pretty much the same thing, right? Not exactly. Believe it or not, various types of bottled water differ in content, and actually have distinctive tastes due to their origin and the way they are manufactured and processed.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for regulating the safety of bottled water, checking for bacteria, chemicals and other contaminants that may be present. The FDA is also responsible for monitoring and inspecting the processing plants where bottled water is manufactured, their water source and sanitary conditions. While it is safe to assume that most bottled water is safe to drink, the taste and content of certain types of bottled water may be the determining factor of which type is right for you. Here is an explanation of the various types of bottled water that may help you decide which type you would prefer.
Spring water is probably one of the most recognized forms of bottled water available. When a manufacturer calls its water, "spring water," it is making the claim that the source of its water is from an underground formation where water naturally flows to the earth's surface. Not all bottled water should be considered spring water. According to the FDA, spring water may be collected at the spring directly, or through a bored hole that removes the water from the spring's source underground. Bottled waters derived by other methods, like purified tap-water, are not the same as spring water, and may differ in taste. Spring water may also contain beneficial nutrients like calcium, potassium and fluoride, which also affect the taste.
Mineral water is similar to spring water, containing minerals and other dissolved substances. Mineral water comes from natural, spring sources, and is typically bottled at the source. According to the FDA, bottled water is classified as mineral water when it contains at least 250 parts per million total dissolved solids, and its level and relative proportions of mineral and trace elements are present directly from the source. In other words, minerals cannot be added to bottled water to obtain a mineral water classification.
A distinctive type of bottled water is sparkling water, known for its bubbles and fizz. This type of bottled water contains carbon dioxide that has been dissolved, creating carbonation. Sparkling, or carbonated, water is often recognized as the main ingredient for sodas. Tonic water is a type of sparkling water, with an added ingredient of quinine, and is often used in mixed drinks. Sparkling water can have the same attributes as other types of water, like spring or mineral, depending on the water's source, and it is common to see various types of sparkling water such as sparkling spring water, sparkling drinking water or sparkling mineral water.
Bottled water that has been distilled does not contain the same impurities of other types of water. Distilled water involves a process where the water being distributed is boiled, with the steam being condensed in a clean container, neutralizing any harmful bacteria or substances. Distilled water tends to be much cleaner than other types of water, with the distillation process being more effective than conventional filtration systems for water purification. However, a negative factor regarding distilled water is the lack of healthy minerals typically found in other types of water, as they too, are eliminated with any harmful contents during the distillation process.
Deionized water, also referred to as demineralized water, is similar to distilled water, where unwanted impurities are eliminated through the removal of mineral ions. Deionized water is also similar to distilled water in that nutrients beneficial to the body, like calcium, are also removed during the purification process. Both deionized water and distilled water fall under the category of "purified" water.
Flavored or nutrient-added waters are appealing for giving plain, bottled water a little taste plus the added benefits of vitamins and minerals. This type of bottled water is often advertised as being a great alternative to sugar-filled soft drinks and juices. While this may be the case for some brands, it is important to read the nutrition label to determine whether the nutritional content of the water outweighs the amount of sugar it contains. Some flavored water brands, that claim to be healthier than sodas, tend to have surprisingly high sugar content, negating the amount of vitamins and minerals they provide. As opposed to other types of bottled water, flavor or nutrient-added water also contain calories, though not as much when compared to other sugar-filled beverages available.