Ways to Obtain Pure Drinking Water
As I wrote about in my previous posting on water, the most important first step we can take in addressing our health is to evaluate the quality of the water we’re consuming and/or absorbing into our bodies on a daily basis. Since most of today’s tap water contains chemicals like chlorine, fluoride and other toxic by-products that may impact our health over the long-term, it’s important that we find a way to obtain pure, nutrient-rich water that has the properties to properly hydrate us and provide what our body needs to function optimally.
While there is some debate over the best way to obtain quality drinking water, I will share the main options for you, so that you can begin to evaluate them for yourselves.
Spring Water: Many experts feel that spring water, which rises to the earth’s surface from deep within the ground, is the absolute best water you can drink. Because it is uncontaminated and untouched by modern filtration systems or chemicals, it is mineral-rich, pure and tastes great. A few trips to a spring each month can be all that’s needed to supply your family with the freshest water you can find. One online resource for locating a spring in your area is www.findaspring.com.
Water Distiller: Distillation is a process in which the water is heated in order to separate the good water molecules from its contaminants through vaporization. This allows most minerals, bacteria, heavy metals, viruses and chemicals (including fluoride) that have a higher boiling point than the water to be removed from the water. In other words, the pure water first becomes steam and then is condensed back into liquid form. There are many water distillers on the market and those that advocate this system of purification recommend restructuring the water by adding minerals back in.
Reverse Osmosis: This method utilizes pressure to push the water through a semi-permeable membrane. The pure water is then able to pass through its pores, but reject impurities that are too large for the membrane. This system is effective at removing dissolved solids, salts, minerals, organic chemicals and other impurities including fluoride. Like water distillation, many recommend restructuring the water with added minerals.
Carbon Filter: This is an inexpensive way to remove some contaminants in the water, but not all. With this system, the impurities will "bond" to the carbon resulting in a purer, better tasting water. Although these filters retain the minerals, they are really only effective at reducing and/or removing chlorine, VOCs (pesticides and herbicides), heavy metals, bacteria and other common contaminants. They do not remove fluoride and depending on the type of carbon used, also vary in what they are able to eliminate completely. It’s important to note that the cheap water filter dispensers that you find in drugstores typically only reduce (not remove) copper, chlorine (taste and odor) and mercury, so it’s critical to invest in a quality filter if you go this route.
Bottled Water: Most people feel that buying bottled water solves the issue of buying a filter or seeking out fresh spring water. However, most of the bottled water brands are just tap water and not always filtered. This means that many still contain the chemical by-products, fluoride, chlorine, bacteria, heavy metals and even pharmaceutical drugs found in the municipal water supply. Additionally, there is an incredible amount of waste with plastic water bottles, which has a substantial environmental impact. As you may have heard in news reports over the past few years, many plastic water bottles contain the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic element that can seep into the water and cause health problems over time. Simply put, you can’t trust what you’re drinking when you purchase bottled water.
Shower Filter: Although spring water, distillation and/or reverse osmosis can offer the most complete solutions for pure drinking water, a simple carbon shower filter is also a great investment everyone should make. Highly chlorinated tap water, which is heavily absorbed during a hot shower, can contribute to health issues such as bladder and breast cancer, asthma and bronchitis. Chlorinated water may also contribute to dry skin, premature aging, rashes, poor air quality, and other negative health effects.
Kara wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Food & Nutrition.