More than 50% of the human body consists of water. Consuming good quality water is essential to maintain proper hydration throughout day-to-day life and for optimal bodily function. This is why it is incredibly important to make educated decisions regarding the water you consume. You should always strive to consume the best quality water to properly hydrate and fuel your body.
There’s a lot of fluff and embellishment used in water marketing and it can get murky trying to decode what different terminology really means. This article will take a dive into commonly used water terminology and lingo to determine what they mean so that you can make informed decisions as to what water is best for you.
You may be hearing the term “Pure Water” or “Purified Water” being tossed around a lot, and may be asking yourselves “What is Pure Water?”. Purified water is an umbrella term that refers to water which has been mechanically filtered or processed with the intention of removing and reducing “impurities”. In this case, impurities are typically considered the chemical substances that are not H2O.
Water is highly susceptible to impurities. Impurities may enter your water at any moment. They can stem from the water source itself or leech from the pipes it travels through, it may even accidentally be cross contaminated in your drinking glass.
Some common impurities that may exist in water include:
It begs to question: Are all methods of water purification equal? Simply put, they are not. There are many processes that can qualify as purified water but not all will yield the same results. Certain methods are better at removing certain contaminants. Some common methods to purify water include Distillation, Reverse Osmosis, and Activated Carbon Filtration.
It’s important to note that not all water that is marketed as “pure” is entirely free of impurities that may be harmful for your health.
Simply put, distilled water has gone through the process of Distillation. During distillation water is boiled, and the steam is collected. The condensed steam separates H2O from solid contaminants. Distilled water is incredibly pure and is often used in many medical applications. The process of distillation effectively removes bacteria, pesticides, and commonly occurring chemicals like chlorine, lead, and sulfate. Because of its exceptionally pure nature it is a good choice for people with weakened immune systems to consume.
Distillation will also remove minerals and may leave water depleted of minerals and electrolytes. Relying solely on distilled water for drinking may lower levels of important minerals.
During Reverse Osmosis water is pushed using a high-pressure pump through a semipermeable membrane to filter out contaminants. A semipermeable membrane allows for some atoms or molecules to pass through but blocks others. The contaminants which are removed are then flushed out of the filter media and drained out.
Reverse Osmosis filtration systems are not reliable for removing chlorine by-products, dissolved gasses and bacterial microorganisms.
Deionized water, as the name implies, refers to water from which ions have been removed. The ions are removed through ion exchange. Ion exchange separates water from molecules with electrical charges. These molecules are generally minerals.
Deionized water will not be fully ion free. Deionized water is often used during scientific testing so the “contaminants”, in this case the ions, do not confuse results. Deionized water is also a good choice of water to use with metals to avoid corrosion.
Deionized water is depleted of minerals which are important for the body and may not rid the water of contaminants such as bacteria, viruses and solids that are not electrically charged. Thus, it is not typically recommended for consumption.
Ultraviolet disinfection passes water through a UV unit, containing an ultraviolet range of light that combats viruses, bacteria and pathogens present in water. UV sterilization systems do not add anything to the water during this process.
UV sterilization units use UV lights that emit light at a spectrum which disrupts the DNA of microorganisms. Destroying the DNA of the microorganism inhibits the microorganism from functioning and replicating. Properly disinfected Ultraviolet treatment is incredibly effective at purifying water from pathogens and bacteria.
UV filtration does not remove other contaminants in water such as metals, or debris. UV sterilization will not function effectively if the water contains contaminants that are affecting its transparency. It is recommended to pair UV filtration with another form of filtration that removes other contaminants that may be prevalent. UV disinfection is a great second treatment for water which has already been filtered to ensure that pathogens and harmful microbes are not present.
Activated Carbon filters are arguably the most commonly used filters. They’re often used in fridge filters, shower filters and even reverse osmosis filters. Activated Carbon filtration absorbs contaminants within the activated carbon.
Activated Carbon filters contain carbon which has been treated to be very porous. The increased porosity means that the carbon has an incredibly large surface area. The large surface area is what makes it incredibly effective for absorbing and removing contaminants from water.
Activated Carbon Filters are a great option to improve the taste and odor of your water. Water treatment plants often use contaminants like chlorine to treat water. Though small amounts of chlorine in drinking water is typically considered safe for consumption, it may leave an unpleasant odor or taste. Carbon filters are especially good for filtering out chlorine and contaminants which are by-products of chlorine.
They are capable of reducing levels of PFOS, Perfluorooctane sulfonate, in water. PFOS is a chemical used in stain-resistant fabrics, fire-fighting foam, and surface-active agents in industrial processes.
Phosphate is often added to water at treatment plants to prevent the corrosion of metal pipes and leaching of those pipes into drinking water. Activated charcoal filters are typically very good in removing phosphates, as well as, harmful metals such as lead. They have proven effective in reducing levels of pharmaceuticals, pesticides, herbicides, and microplastics that may be present in tap water.
Not all water purification systems are made equal and not all “pure” water is the same. The way you treat and purify your water will have a direct impact on the way it smells, tastes, and impacts your health. It is important to choose the right method for you to rid water or harmful impurities and reap all the benefits of great tasting hydration.
Although your water may visit a treatment plant before arriving at your tap, it may still contain, and be susceptible to impurities. Having access to an at home water purification system is a great way to provide the convenience of great tasting, and healthy water at home.