July 14, 2017

We buy purified drinking water in five gallon plastic cans from a water station in our neighborhood. However, some will be confused as to the type of water we should be drinking. Which is the best form of drinking water, distilled, purified, ionized?

With all the different types and brands of drinking water that are currently in the market, plus all the hype that goes with each, I don’t blame you for getting confused as to what type is best for you. Let me help you out by citing the qualities that drinking water should have. It should be safe, which means you can drink it without risk of health problems, and, it should provide you with some naturally occurring minerals that your body cells need to carry out their various metabolic activities. In other words, the best drinking water is natural mineral water that is properly collected, transported, and handled to guard against contamination.

Sources of natural mineral water include wells, springs, rivers, ponds, lakes, etc. Naturally occurring mineral water, however, is often contaminated with pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms) and chemical and physical impurities. Hence, to make it safe, these contaminants have to be removed.

There are companies that bottle natural spring water and decontaminate it from pathogens by ozonization or other means, but these products are very expensive (about R200/per gallon), which is well-above the means of most households. Hence, as in your case, most people resort to purified water for drinking.


Common types of purified water

The two popular ways to purify drinking water are distillation and reverse osmosis. Distillation involves vaporizing water by heating followed by condensation. It yields water (distilled water) that is devoid of any dissolved material. In reverse osmosis, on the other hand, which produces essentially the same water (in terms of quality) as distillation, water is forced through membranes that remove larger particles, pollutants, and minerals.

Incidentally, deionized water, which is another type of water that has cornered a sizable market, is water where the ionized impurities and minerals have been removed but not bacteria or pathogens.

The case against bottled and purified water

The problem with the above forms of water purification is that, in the process of purification, not only harmful contaminants but all other dissolved minerals are removed from the water.

Hence, if you drink de-mineralized water, you deprive your body of a good source of micronutrients (minerals, in particular).

Also, bottled and purified water are not always as pure as you might expect them to be. Dangerous toxins from some plastic water bottles can leach into the water.

Why tap water may be a better alternative to purified water

Tap water, water that comes out of the faucets, has been treated, processed, and disinfected by water companies. It is natural mineral water that is purified with chlorine and generally has added fluoride.

In Metro Manila, tap water is provided for by Manila Water Company, Inc., and Maynilad Waters. The water they deliver to the households conforms to the stringent microbiological and chemical quality standards set in the Philippine National Standard for Drinking Water.  It is, therefore, safe to drink—unless your water pipes have leaks.  Hence, tap water may be a safer, aside from being a cheaper, source of drinking water that what you currently have.

Many people, however, do not like the taste of chlorine. Also, some experts attribute certain health hazards to this chemical. To eliminate chlorine from your tap water, you can use filters.

Purchase a filtration system that attaches to your tap (and/or refrigerator water dispenser) or a filtered-water pitcher. In our household, we do both, we let our tap water go through a filter system attached to our tap and collect the water into a filtered-water pitcher.

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