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Water Savvy

Are Bubbles Better?

With all the choices on the market, learn how to choose the best bottled water

Knowing Your Bottled Water

Around the world, bottled water has gone mainstream. Americans spend billions annually on their favorite brands of H20. A few years ago, there were only a small number of choices for bottled water, but consumers today find more than 3,600 brands in the marketplace. The deteriorating taste and quality of tap water—and the fear of the contaminants it may contain—have made bottled water not just a choice for some people but a necessity. Drinking more water also goes along with the health-conscious craze today. The demand for bottled water is so high that even Pepsi has come out with Aquafina and Coca-Cola with Dasani to capture some of the market.

Not all bottled water is created equal!

Not All Water Is Created Equal

To make an informed choice about which of the various types of bottled waters is for you, scrutinize the labels. European bottled mineral waters come from springs, which are simply underground water sources that flow naturally to the surface. Waters labeled "spring water" must come from a spring source. Federal labeling standards in the United States, which came into force in the mid-1990s, now require that bottlers disclose on the label where the water originated. Purified water is a different story—it’s usually produced by distillation, de-ionization or reverse osmosis. This water can originate from either the tap or from ground water. Often labeled "purified" or drinking water," this processed water often has minerals added to it to give it taste. If the water is produced by vaporization and condensation, it may be labeled "distilled water."

Healthy Water

In Europe, bottlers tout the reputed healthful properties of good water. Almost every European bottled water is “bottled at the source,” which means that it comes from a spring where people have gone for hundreds of years to “take the waters” in curative spa treatments. Spas like Vittel and Contrexeville have medical programs designed to address specific ailments. Some spa treatments involve consuming more than 80 ounces of water a day, which is said to remove toxins from the body and to be effective in the treatment of obesity. In Europe, these bottled waters with their mineral contents listed on the label are sold not only in supermarkets but also in pharmacies. Doctors even prescribe certain mineral waters for specific ailments.

In the United States, however, bottled water is marketed with an emphasis on its taste, contribution to fitness regimens and, in some cases, trendiness. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not recognize any therapeutic values of bottled water because the existing medical research does not conform to FDA guidelines. However, the therapeutic value of certain bottled waters is becoming a subject of discussion in American scientific and medical circles.

Bubbly Water

The taste of carbonated water is effected by its level of carbonation—the more carbon-dioxide gas present, the more acidic the water’s taste. This sensation, sometimes described by tasters as “bracing,” “sharp” and “spritzy,” can be positive or negative, depending upon which minerals are in the water. Certain minerals bind the carbonation into the water. Seltzers tend to lose their carbonation quickly because of the lack of minerals. In bottled-water tastings, the more highly mineralized carbonated waters have scored best.


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