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Thirsty? Here Are 9 Types of Water You Can Drink
Plus, learn if there's one that's best for your health.
By Jennifer Still
You hear it all the time: You should be drinking more water. How much depends on the person, but generally speaking, staying well hydrated offers a host of health benefits. That includes higher energy levels and better brain function, just to name a few.
But not all water is created equal, with some being cheaper or providing more nutrients than others.
Here are the different types of water and what you should know about them
A piped water supply, tap water is found everywhere from the water that flushes a public toilet to the water that comes out of your kitchen sink or cleans your glassware in your dishwasher.
Though many people turn their noses up at the idea of drinking tap water over taste or safety concerns, the truth is that tap water is safe to drink across much of the U.S.
What's more, tap water isn't only good for you, it's cheaper than buying various types of bottled water.
While there are industry regulations in place that are meant to keep lead and other harmful substances from contaminating the water supply, sometimes this doesn't work. A prime example of this is the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
Moreover, the Guardian reported on research showing plastic particles in tap water supplies around the world.
Public water supplies can also contain pesticide residue, aluminum, and other undesirable substances. If, however, you're worried that the treatments performed on your water supply aren't up to par, you can always purchase a home filtration system for further cleansing.
Pulled from a mineral spring, mineral water is, as the name states, full of minerals including sulfur, magnesium and calcium—all things that are good for you.
Mineral water does indeed have some health benefits, since it provides minerals your body can't create on its own. It can also help aid in digestion, and many people even like the taste of it over tap water, though that's down to personal preference.
One of the main downsides to mineral water is cost, especially when compared to tap water. Many of the minerals from this type of water can also be obtained from a healthy, varied diet.
Spring or Glacier Water
Spring or glacier waters are types of bottled waters that are claimed to be bottled at the source from where the water flows—either from the spring or glacier.
In theory, spring or glacier waters should be relatively clean and free of toxins. They also contain many of the same helpful minerals found in mineral water.
Depending on how much you drink, spring water could get pricey, especially in comparison to tap water. Also, some spring water is raw, unfiltered, and untested water, which could pose potential health risks depending on what it contains.
Sometimes referred to as carbonated water or soda water, sparkling water is infused with carbon dioxide gas while under pressure.
Sparkling water offers a different mouth feel to flat water, which could be a welcome change if you want something fizzy without sugar or artificial sweeteners.
That said, there are flavored sparkling waters available that do contain one or both types of sweeteners. Plus, because sparkling water tends to be mineralized—think Perrier and San Pellegrino—you're getting the added bonus of health-promoting minerals with your carbonation.
While there are some minerals present in sparkling water, there aren't enough to be truly beneficial to your health in a meaningful way. In addition, it can be expensive compared to both tap and certain types of bottled water.
This type of water is boiled and the steam is collected and condensed back into a liquid.
Distilled water is a great option if you live somewhere—or are visiting somewhere—where the tap water supply is contaminated or possibly could be.
As there are no vitamins and minerals in distilled water, there are no health benefits. In fact, it has the potential to be detrimental as non-mineralized water tends to pull minerals from where it can—in this case, your body, or specifically your teeth.
Purified water is usually tap or groundwater which has been treated to remove harmful substances like bacteria, fungi, and parasites.
This means that drinking it is pretty much guaranteed to be safe.
Like distilled water, purified water is a great option if your immediate water source is contaminated. That said, many countries purify tap water, so you're basically drinking purified water every time you fill a cup from your kitchen sink.
Because all potentially harmful substances are removed from purified water, you also miss out on some of the potentially beneficial ones that are added to tap water supplies like fluoride, which helps to reduce tooth decay.
In addition, purchasing purified water or even installing a filtration system at home can be pretty costly.
Flavored or Infused Water
Flavored water is water that's sweetened with either sugar or artificial sweeteners, and contains natural or artificial flavorings.
It can also add variation to your water intake since there are so many flavors available. Flavor can be added naturally by infusing fruit and vegetables into tap or bottled water, or you could purchase artificially flavored waters in most stores.
Often, flavored waters contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Varieties with sugar can lead to weight gain and have a negative effect on those with diabetes. What's more, some people may react negatively to artificial sweeteners.
Alkaline water has a higher pH level than normal tap water and contains alkaline minerals and negative oxidation reduction potential (ORP).
The fact that this type of water has a higher pH level has led some people to believe that it may help neutralize acid in the body, help slow the aging process, or even prevent cancer.
There's very little scientific proof, however, of this being true.
It's generally safe to drink alkaline water, but it could reduce stomach acidity, thereby lowering its ability to kill off harmful bacteria.
In excess, it could also lead to metabolic alkalosis, which could produce symptoms like nausea and vomiting.
Well water comes straight from the ground, though it's untreated and carries with it a number of risks.
If you happen to live in an area where wells are plentiful, or you even have one in your own backyard, the convenient access to what seems like fresh water could be attractive.
While there are many proponents of raw, untreated water, the benefits may not outweigh the potential risks.
That said, there are steps you can take to ensure your well water is suitable for drinking. For example, testing your well water annually for bacteria, nitrates, and pH levels. It's also possible to install a filtration system.
Because the water hasn't been treated, there's a big chance of contamination—particularly from bacterial and parasitic infections like giardia.
While well water used to be the norm, there's a reason that city water supplies and the regulations surrounding them were put into place—you simply don't know what you're getting unless you test or treat the well water yourself.
The Bottom Line
While you may have a preference for which type of water is best, generally, there's no one type that promises greater health benefits than the others.
So long as the water you're drinking is clean and safe, the main focus is to make sure that you stay hydrated and to ensure you're drinking enough water on a regular basis.
Jennifer Still is an editor and writer with bylines in Vanity Fair, Glamour, Bon Appetit, Business Insider, and more. She writes about food and culture. Follow her on Twitter.
Medically reviewed by Carissa Stephens, RN, CCRN, CPN.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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By Randi Spivak
Slashing two national monuments in Utah may have received the most attention, but Trump's Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service have been quietly, systematically ceding control of America's public lands to fossil fuel, mining, timber and livestock interests since the day he took office.
A new report by Greenpeace International pinpointed the world's worst sources of sulfur dioxide pollution, an irritant gas that harms human health. India has seized the top spot from Russia and China, contributing nearly 15 percent of global sulfur dioxide emissions.
By Sue Branford and Thais Borges
Ola Elvestrun, Norway's environment minister, announced Thursday that it is freezing its contributions to the Amazon Fund, and will no longer be transferring €300 million ($33.2 million) to Brazil. In a press release, the Norwegian embassy in Brazil stated:
Given the present circumstances, Norway does not have either the legal or the technical basis for making its annual contribution to the Amazon Fund.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro reacted with sarcasm to Norway's decision, which had been widely expected. After an official event, he commented: "Isn't Norway the country that kills whales at the North Pole? Doesn't it also produce oil? It has no basis for telling us what to do. It should give the money to Angela Merkel [the German Chancellor] to reforest Germany."
According to its website, the Amazon Fund is a "REDD+ mechanism created to raise donations for non-reimbursable investments in efforts to prevent, monitor and combat deforestation, as well as to promote the preservation and sustainable use in the Brazilian Amazon." The bulk of funding comes from Norway and Germany.
The annual transfer of funds from developed world donors to the Amazon Fund depends on a report from the Fund's technical committee. This committee meets after the National Institute of Space Research, which gathers official Amazon deforestation data, publishes its annual report with the definitive figures for deforestation in the previous year.
But this year the Amazon Fund's technical committee, along with its steering committee, COFA, were abolished by the Bolsonaro government on 11 April as part of a sweeping move to dissolve some 600 bodies, most of which had NGO involvement. The Bolsonaro government views NGO work in Brazil as a conspiracy to undermine Brazil's sovereignty.
The Brazilian government then demanded far-reaching changes in the way the fund is managed, as documented in a previous article. As a result, the Amazon Fund's technical committee has been unable to meet; Norway says it therefore cannot continue making donations without a favorable report from the committee.
Archer Daniels Midland soy silos in Mato Grosso along the BR-163 highway, where Amazon rainforest has largely been replaced by soy destined for the EU, UK, China and other international markets.
An Uncertain Future
The Amazon Fund was announced during the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, during a period when environmentalists were alarmed at the rocketing rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. It was created as a way of encouraging Brazil to continue bringing down the rate of forest conversion to pastures and croplands.
Government agencies, such as IBAMA, Brazil's environmental agency, and NGOs shared Amazon Fund donations. IBAMA used the money primarily to enforce deforestation laws, while the NGOs oversaw projects to support sustainable communities and livelihoods in the Amazon.
There has been some controversy as to whether the Fund has actually achieved its goals: in the three years before the deal, the rate of deforestation fell dramatically but, after money from the Fund started pouring into the Amazon, the rate remained fairly stationary until 2014, when it began to rise once again. But, in general, the international donors have been pleased with the Fund's performance, and until the Bolsonaro government came to office, the program was expected to continue indefinitely.
Norway has been the main donor (94 percent) to the Amazon Fund, followed by Germany (5 percent), and Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petrobrás (1 percent). Over the past 11 years, the Norwegians have made, by far, the biggest contribution: R$3.2 billion ($855 million) out of the total of R$3.4 billion ($903 million).
Up till now the Fund has approved 103 projects, with the dispersal of R$1.8 billion ($478 million). These projects will not be affected by Norway's funding freeze because the donors have already provided the funding and the Brazilian Development Bank is contractually obliged to disburse the money until the end of the projects. But there are another 54 projects, currently being analyzed, whose future is far less secure.
One of the projects left stranded by the dissolution of the Fund's committees is Projeto Frutificar, which should be a three-year project, with a budget of R$29 million ($7.3 million), for the production of açai and cacao by 1,000 small-scale farmers in the states of Amapá and Pará. The project was drawn up by the Brazilian NGO IPAM (Institute of Environmental research in Amazonia).
Paulo Moutinho, an IPAM researcher, told Globo newspaper: "Our program was ready to go when the [Brazilian] government asked for changes in the Fund. It's now stuck in the BNDES. Without funding from Norway, we don't know what will happen to it."
Norway is not the only European nation to be reconsidering the way it funds environmental projects in Brazil. Germany has many environmental projects in the Latin American country, apart from its small contribution to the Amazon Fund, and is deeply concerned about the way the rate of deforestation has been soaring this year.
The German environment ministry told Mongabay that its minister, Svenja Schulze, had decided to put financial support for forest and biodiversity projects in Brazil on hold, with €35 million ($39 million) for various projects now frozen.
The ministry explained why: "The Brazilian government's policy in the Amazon raises doubts whether a consistent reduction in deforestation rates is still being pursued. Only when clarity is restored, can project collaboration be continued."
Bauxite mines in Paragominas, Brazil. The Bolsonaro administration is urging new laws that would allow large-scale mining within Brazil's indigenous reserves.
Hydro / Halvor Molland / Flickr
Alternative Amazon Funding
Although there will certainly be disruption in the short-term as a result of the paralysis in the Amazon Fund, the governors of Brazil's Amazon states, which rely on international funding for their environmental projects, are already scrambling to create alternative channels.
In a press release issued yesterday Helder Barbalho, the governor of Pará, the state with the highest number of projects financed by the Fund, said that he will do all he can to maintain and increase his state partnership with Norway.
Barbalho had announced earlier that his state would be receiving €12.5 million ($11.1 million) to run deforestation monitoring centers in five regions of Pará. Barbalho said: "The state governments' monitoring systems are recording a high level of deforestation in Pará, as in the other Amazon states. The money will be made available to those who want to help [the Pará government reduce deforestation] without this being seen as international intervention."
Amazonas state has funding partnerships with Germany and is negotiating deals with France. "I am talking with countries, mainly European, that are interested in investing in projects in the Amazon," said Amazonas governor Wilson Miranda Lima. "It is important to look at Amazônia, not only from the point of view of conservation, but also — and this is even more important — from the point of view of its citizens. It's impossible to preserve Amazônia if its inhabitants are poor."
Signing of the EU-Mercusor Latin American trading agreement earlier this year. The pact still needs to be ratified.
Council of Hemispheric Affairs
Looming International Difficulties
The Bolsonaro government's perceived reluctance to take effective measures to curb deforestation may in the longer-term lead to a far more serious problem than the paralysis of the Amazon Fund.
In June, the European Union and Mercosur, the South American trade bloc, reached an agreement to create the largest trading bloc in the world. If all goes ahead as planned, the pact would account for a quarter of the world's economy, involving 780 million people, and remove import tariffs on 90 percent of the goods traded between the two blocs. The Brazilian government has predicted that the deal will lead to an increase of almost $100 billion in Brazilian exports, particularly agricultural products, by 2035.
But the huge surge this year in Amazon deforestation is leading some European countries to think twice about ratifying the deal. In an interview with Mongabay, the German environment ministry made it very clear that Germany is very worried about events in the Amazon: "We are deeply concerned given the pace of destruction in Brazil … The Amazon Forest is vital for the atmospheric circulation and considered as one of the tipping points of the climate system."
The ministry stated that, for the trade deal to go ahead, Brazil must carry out its commitment under the Paris Climate agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent below the 2005 level by 2030. The German environment ministry said: If the trade deal is to go ahead, "It is necessary that Brazil is effectively implementing its climate change objectives adopted under the [Paris] Agreement. It is precisely this commitment that is expressly confirmed in the text of the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement."
Blairo Maggi, Brazil agriculture minister under the Temer administration, and a major shareholder in Amaggi, the largest Brazilian-owned commodities trading company, has said very little in public since Bolsonaro came to power; he's been "in a voluntary retreat," as he puts it. But Maggi is so concerned about the damage Bolsonaro's off the cuff remarks and policies are doing to international relationships he decided to speak out earlier this week.
Former Brazil Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi, who has broken a self-imposed silence to criticize the Bolsonaro government, saying that its rhetoric and policies could threaten Brazil's international commodities trade.
Senado Federal / Visualhunt / CC BY
Maggi, a ruralista who strongly supports agribusiness, told the newspaper, Valor Econômico, that, even if the European Union doesn't get to the point of tearing up a deal that has taken 20 years to negotiate, there could be long delays. "These environmental confusions could create a situation in which the EU says that Brazil isn't sticking to the rules." Maggi speculated. "France doesn't want the deal and perhaps it is taking advantage of the situation to tear it up. Or the deal could take much longer to ratify — three, five years."
Such a delay could have severe repercussions for Brazil's struggling economy which relies heavily on its commodities trade with the EU. Analysists say that Bolsonaro's fears over such an outcome could be one reason for his recently announced October meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, another key trading partner.
Maggi is worried about another, even more alarming, potential consequence of Bolsonaro's failure to stem illegal deforestation — Brazil could be hit by a boycott by its foreign customers. "I don't buy this idea that the world needs Brazil … We are only a player and, worse still, replaceable." Maggi warns, "As an exporter, I'm telling you: things are getting very difficult. Brazil has been saying for years that it is possible to produce and preserve, but with this [Bolsonaro administration] rhetoric, we are going back to square one … We could find markets closed to us."
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