The importance of clean, pure water is increasing by the day in America. We’re all looking for the best solution for the health of ourselves and our families – and manufacturers know that.
It can be confusing to navigate the world of bottled water and water treatment solutions. The words “pure” and “spring” get thrown around a lot as they create beautiful images in our heads of fresh, clear waterfalls, blue skies, and delicious, hydrating water.
But what do each of these terms actually mean? And in the purified water vs spring water battle, which one is actually best for us? I’ve debunked the myths behind the marketing and shared everything you need to know in this guide.
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What is Spring Water?
Spring water is a type of bottled water that you will have seen widely available in supermarkets. Chances are, unless you’re a complete bottled water avoider, you will have drank spring water hundreds of times throughout your lifetime.
Spring water may come from a spring – but the name is a bit deceiving, as this type of water goes through a number of processes before it reaches the bottle. It’s not as if somebody simply holds an empty water bottle beneath a spring waterfall, fills the bottle, seals it and sells it to you.
Actually, spring water may not even come from spring.
Manufacturers can label their product “spring water” provided it comes from any underground aquifer – that could include well water, artesian water or groundwater, so not quite the picturesque image you probably had in mind.
How Spring Water is Made
Spring water is derived from natural water sources that are unlikely to contain man-made impurities and pollutants. This water flows along paths worn into mountains, along the sides of hills and valleys, sometimes underground, where it comes into contact with rocks that provide a certain amount of filtration. The rocks that water comes into contact with also affect the mineral makeup of the water.
It’s usually not safe to drink spring water straight without the risk of getting ill – an unavoidable stage of how spring water is made is the manual filtration process. Water is treated at a man-made and man-powered treatment center, and its mineral content is preserved while impurities and potentially dangerous pathogens are removed.
Derived from a “pure” source
A key advantage of spring water vs purified water is that a product derived from springs is derived from a “purified” supply – a part of the country that’s unlikely to have been affected by man-made pollution and has a naturally higher mineral water content.
The natural filtration process ensures that spring types of water are rich in natural minerals and partly filtered. Many people find that this type of water suits their personal preference for taste because of its minerals, especially when compared with the standard tap water that comes out of our faucets. Additionally, these minerals must be consumed to support bone health, heart health and more.
Can be expensive
Spring water manufacturers are well aware that their product is tastier and healthier than a standard tap water source, which is why this water is often priced highly in supermarkets. If your family exclusively drinks bottled spring products, you probably spend hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars on bottled water per year.
Not available for at-home tap water
There’s no getting around the fact that you must buy spring water in bottled form from a supermarket. It’s highly unlikely that your municipal drinking supply contains the natural minerals that spring water benefits from, so if taste is important to you, you’ll probably drink from bottled spring water more than you do from your own faucet.
What is Purified Water?
Purified water is another common type of bottled water that tends to be the most readily available, sold widely across the US. If a manufacturer states that its product is “purified”, you know it’s true – companies can’t label their products as “purified” unless they have proof that the overall impurities in the bottle are measured at below 10 parts per million (PPM).
You can pretty much guarantee, then, that purified water is fresher, cleaner, and tastier, and has a high purity, because it has undergone water purification to specific standards, and contains far fewer contaminants than what we’re used to drinking.
To put it into perspective, tap water usually contains up to 500 parts per million (PPM) of TDS – that’s total dissolved solids, a term that’s used to indicate a broad range of contaminants, from chemicals and heavy metals to microorganisms, salts and ions.
How Water is Purified
Purified drinking water could also be called “filtered water”, though it’s generally subject to much more intensive filtration to make it “purified” – hence the name. Typically, purified water will be treated with several in-depth filtration stages to remove nearly 100% of all particles and impurities that would prevent it from legally achieving a “purified” title.
Bottled purified water is widely available, but it’s important to note that the name “purified” ties into the water’s purification process and not its source.
Purified water has a high purity and meets specific standards for it – but it could have been sourced from a spring; it could have also been sourced from a reservoir or a local river, like our municipal water. So if you’re buying purified, filtered water simply because it has had its contaminants removed, you might just want to purify it yourself.
Legally safe to drink
When you drink a bottle of purified water, you know for certain that it had to meet a legal standard to take on the “purified” status, which means you can be 100% certain that what you’re drinking is completely safe.
May purify water yourself
As I mentioned, any water supply can be purified – including your own home’s drinking water. Reverse osmosis or distilled water is cheaper to produce, will help you to cut back on your plastic water bottle use, and generally tastes just as good as purified water from a bottle.
Lower mineral content
Some purified water sources have added minerals, but typically, purified water has had its healthy minerals removed. For that reason, you may not enjoy its taste as much as spring water, which typically has a higher amount of minerals.
Expensive & wasteful
Comparing purified vs spring water, there’s not much difference in this aspect. If you purchase purified water from a store, you’ll spend a lot of money and contribute to the dangerously huge plastic waste production in the US.
I highly recommend investing in a system that’ll give you access to your own purified types of drinking water at home if you’re keen to enjoy clean, safe water without the need for purchasing single-use water bottles.
👉 Check out this article to see my top pics for best water filters to purify water at home in 2023!
Spring Water vs Purified: Which is Better?
There’s no definitive “better” option between spring water vs purified water – it largely depends on personal preference and your own standards.
For instance, if you prefer water with plenty of minerals, spring water is probably the best choice for you. But not all springs are equal in quality, and one underground aquifer can often vary greatly from another. If you’re concerned about the quality of springs in a certain area, you may prefer to opt for a purified alternative. That said, both spring water and purified water are safe to drink according to the EPA’s standards, so no choice is the wrong one.
Should I purify my own water?
You can save money and eliminate your single-use plastic water bottle use by buying filter systems that’ll purify your drinking water at home. The best, purest water methods are distillation and reverse osmosis. RO or distilled water is typically free of up to 99% of all TDS, including minerals and chemicals like chlorine, so it’ll taste similar, if not better, than purified bottled water.
Making a choice between water filter methods is a big decision, though, especially as the best purification systems are the biggest investments. However, there are often cheaper options amongst the expensive, such as distillation. I have plenty of handy guides, including a guide on the best systems that remove contaminants and chemicals from tap water, if you’re looking for a place to start.
What’s the difference between filtered water, spring water vs purified water?
Both spring water and purified types of water I’ve discussed already – but what about filtered?
Typically, filtered water hasn’t undergone a water purification process – it’s simply filtered. This means that while purified water contains less than 10 parts per million (PPM) of contaminants, a filtered product may contain a higher level of contaminants and chemicals – though still significantly less than a tap water source. Spring water & purified sources are also usually a little more expensive than a filtered product.
Just as there are many purification systems on the market, there are plenty of at-home filtering products to choose from, too, so filtered water isn’t solely available in bottled form.