Water is water, right? Take two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, mix well, and you have a refreshing drink that’s also essential for life as we know it.
Water comes in a wide variety of forms, however, and discerning the differences isn’t always easy.
To help clear up any confusion, we’ve compiled this handy guide. If you can think of anything we missed, please let us know on our Facebook page.
Pure water: Water that has no dissolved minerals or any other elements. It has a neutral pH of 7 and does not conduct electricity. It’s very rare, essentially found only in laboratory settings.
Potable water: Fresh water that has been sanitized to make it safe for drinking.
Municipal/tap water: Water supplied by a municipality or authority; treated with chlorine and other disinfection agents as needed, and regulated by the EPA. Tap water supplied by LCA mostly comes from wells that are drilled deep into the local groundwater supply. Because of the high quality of our local groundwater resources, little additional treatment is needed.
Well water: Water supplied by a well that’s been drilled into a groundwater supply.
Carbonated water: Water that’s had carbon dioxide added to it. The C02 is added under pressure so that it dissolves. Also called sparkling water, seltzer water, fizzy water, soda water and club soda.
Mineral water: Water from a spring that contains minerals such as potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur compounds.
Sulfur water: Water that contains sulfates from sulfur-containing minerals in rocks and soils. The groundwater dissolves the sulfur compounds as it moves through the earth.
Brackish water: Water that is saltier than fresh water, but not as salty as seawater. Often a result of seawater that’s been mixed with fresh water, such as in an estuary.
Seawater: Water from oceans or seas that has a salt concentration of about 2.5 percent.
Tonic water: A carbonated soft drink that contains quinine, which was once used to protect against malaria. Modern tonic water contains much less quinine and is used in mixed drinks rather than a “tonic” to prevent disease.
Distilled water: Water that’s been treated through boiling and steam condensation to remove impurities. Often used to refill automotive batteries and cooling systems.
Deionized water: Water that has had its ions removed for scientific use. (Ion: an electrically charged atom or group of atoms formed by the loss or gain of one or more electrons removed. From Dictionary.com )
Bottled water: Bottled water can come from a number of sources and be of many varieties. It is regulated by the FDA, which provides the following definitions:
|Artesian Water||Water from a well tapping a confined aquifer in which the water level stands at some height above the top of the aquifer.|
|Mineral Water||Water containing not less than 250 ppm total dissolved solids that originates from a geologically and physically protected underground water source. Mineral water is characterized by constant levels and relative proportions of minerals and trace elements at the source. No minerals may be added to mineral water.|
|Purified Water||Water that is produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis or other suitable processes and that meets the definition of “purified water” in the U.S. Pharmacopeia, 23d Revision, Jan. 1, 1995. As appropriate, also may be called “demineralized water,” “deionized water,” “distilled water,” and “reverse osmosis water.”|
|Sparkling Bottled Water||Water that, after treatment and possible replacement of carbon dioxide, contains the same amount of carbon dioxide that it had at emergence from the source.|
|Spring Water||Water derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth at an identified location. Spring water may be collected at the spring or through a bore hole tapping the underground formation feeding the spring, but there are additional requirements for use of a bore hole.|