Spring Water:

Discussion H20: Spring Water, Drinking Water, and Distilled Water

by Josh Day

In my experience with home aquariums, I've learned a thing or two about water. Fish, like us, benefit from "pure" water, and when the water contains toxins or other contaminants, they don't do so well. The term pure should be used lightly because oftentimes you don't want straight H20. Fish and plants need the trace elements found in water, and we do too. So before you run to Sam's Club to buy that steam distiller or deionizing filtration unit, let me share with you a few things I've discovered about water.

Typically, you have three options for purchasing water at the grocery store. Drinking water, natural spring water, and distilled water are the most common monikers on plastic water jugs. You also have several brand names. These range from the generic labels sold by the store, to popular, private names, to bottles of water sold by the Coca Cola company which contain added sodium, among other less savory things.

Let's break it down:

  • Drinking water is usually water straight from a government water authority that is then further processed for the shelf. This process can range from deionization to reverse osmosis. If you're looking for a "clean" kind of water that is cheap and refreshing, drinking water is probably your best bet.
  • Natural spring water is water pumped from, you guessed it, natural springs in the earth. They often have cool names which make you think of a crystal clear spring in the mountains, or a brown bear wading across a stream. This water is rich in minerals and trace elements. It is tested for quality, but it is usually not processed like drinking water because this would remove many of its beneficial minerals.
  • Distilled water has had all of its minerals and trace elements removed by distillation, the act of steaming the water and then allowing the steam to cool and turn back into water. Next to chlorinated tap water, this is probably the worst choice for your long-term health. Please see this article on the dangers of drinking distilled water for more information.

So what's the best choice of water for your health? The water we drink on a daily basis can exhibit as wide a range as the food we consume. Say you wake up in the morning and find all your bottled water gone, so you drink a glass of nasty, chlorine and chloramine-rich tap water. You drink a 16 oz. bottle of spring water at work. You have a sip of filtered tap water from a fountain at a public building. Finally, you return home and try out your new Brita pitcher and drink water that's been purified through activated carbon.

According to Dr. Zoltan P. Rona, "The ideal water for the human body should be slightly alkaline and this requires the presence of minerals like calcium and magnesium."

Please continue on with our next H2O discussion concerning processing methods.

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