What is Artesian Water Exactly?

what is artesian water

You’ve probably noticed artesian water lining the shelves of your local supermarket if you drink a lot of bottled water.

It certainly sounds fancy, and manufacturers tend to bottle the water in fancy packaging and sell it for a fancy price – but is it really all that?

In this quick guide, I’ll be looking at artesian water in more detail, answering your questions on what it is, how it’s made, and whether it’s worth the price.

What is Artesian Water?

What is artesian water, and where might you have heard of it before?

Artesian water is a kind of spring water that’s sourced from underground aquifers. Artesian wells don’t require a pump to draw water out; instead, their design means that water naturally rises to the surface.

There are many examples of artesian water, with perhaps the most popular being FIJI. Typically, artesian water is a bit more expensive than your average bottle of water, and that’s because of how the water is stored in its natural source.

It’s worth noting, however, that the government has stated that artesian water has no chemical or physical differences from normal groundwater.

flowing artesian well
Flowing artesian well – source: usgs.gov

Where Does Artesian Water Come From?

Artesian water comes from locations all over the world, but the most famous location for artesian wells is Artois, a region in northern France. The term “artesian wells” comes from Artois, hence their continued high demand today.

Artesian water dates all the way back to the middle ages, and has grown in popularity significantly over the years. There are now artesian wells on a global scale.

In America, Georgia and Florida are home to the Floridan Aquifer System and contain two of the biggest artesian wells.

Australia currently has the deepest, biggest artesian well in the world. It’s known as the Great Artesian Basin, and it reaches 10,000 feet in depth in some places.

How Are Artesian Wells Formed?

An artesian well is produced by water flowing down an area of degraded land and passing into porous rock, such as gravel, limestone or sand.

This porous rock substance needs to be located within a non-porous, impenetrable rock layer, which will create a high-pressure environment.

It’s this pressure that causes water to rise to the surface, where it spurts out of the ground, giving the appearance of a small geyser without the steam.

Don’t underestimate the water pressure of an artesian well. The bigger wells can provide water for multiple households in apartment blocks; that’s how strong they are.

Humans don’t create artesian wells – they’re a natural resource, so all we have to do is find the best way to access the water. You can technically create an artesian well by drilling into rock to release the pressure and create a space for the water to shoot out of.

artesian well diagram
source: usgs.gov

Artesian Well vs. Flowing Artesian Wells

Artesian wells are connected to an underground aquifer. In this case, when positive pressure in the aquifer sends water to the top of the well, water will rise into the aquifer – but never actually makes it above ground.

A flowing artesian well works a little differently. This type of well involves drilling into an aquifer, and this time, when pressure sends water to the top of the well, it shoots above ground – no pump needed.

A flowing artesian well may only flow intermittently, or it might flow continuously. It varies in depth, with some being only several meters deep, and others being more than 1,000 meters, depending on the location.

Keep in mind that a flowing artesian well might be classed as a type of artesian well, but not every artesian well out there is a flowing well.

What is So Special About Artesian Water?

Artesian water is some of the most expensive around, and this is because, according to sellers of this product, the water is naturally filtered during its high-pressure journey through porous material.

Let’s take a look at some of the claimed benefits of artesian water:

Great Source of Natural Minerals

The biggest benefit of artesian bottled water – and the only benefit that is backed by science – is that it has a high mineral content.

Calcium is predominantly found in artesian bottled water, and, as we all know, this mineral is essential for building healthy bones and teeth. Fluoride is also abundant in artesian water; we need this mineral for its dental health benefits. Finally, electrolytes, which are naturally found in artesian bottled water, can help to regulate the body’s pH.

Encourages Hydration

It makes sense that if you’re drinking something you enjoy, you’re more likely to drink it more frequently, which will help you to stay more hydrated.

Because of its natural mineral content, artesian bottled water has a pleasant taste that many people prefer over tap water. If you dislike tap water, switching to artesian bottled water might encourage you to drink more and enjoy the benefits that come with that.

May Filter Some Contaminants

Some people believe that the pressure inside artesian wells helps to naturally siphon out contaminants like nitrates out of water.

However, there is virtually no scientific evidence to support this, and artesian bottled water certainly isn’t as filtered as tap water that has been treated with a water filtration system.

I found a few other random claims of artesian well water benefits in my research, like “stress relief” and “assists with detoxification”. In most cases, these claims either weren’t backed up or were just the general benefits of drinking water, not artesian bottled water in particular.

My verdict here is that there’s nothing majorly special about artesian water – it just has more minerals and tastes nicer than tap water.

artesian water well

Are There Risks With Artesian Well Water?

The source of the well can affect the risks that drinking artesian water could pose. Let’s say you found an artesian flowing well and wanted to drink from it. Some of the risks you might encounter are:

Potential For Poor Water Quality

Some sources of artesian water could be poor in quality, and could damage the surface of the ground or contaminate the confined aquifer. Poor-quality water could contain contaminants that are dangerous to human health. I’ve covered this in more detail below.

Bottled Water Isn’t Ideal

Here’s a “risk” I think is important to include, though it’s less of a risk and more of a con of drinking artesian water in general.

If you only drink artesian bottled water, you’ll be spending hundreds of dollars a year on single-use water bottles that are as bad for your wallet as they are for the environment. If you just want to drink clean mineral water, you have plenty more at-home solutions that are cheaper and far more eco-friendly.

Importance of Treating Artesian Well Water

You may think thee majority of flowing artesian wells have good quality artesian spring water – but this isn’t always the case.

Certain rock formations may contain arsenic, which, even non-experts know, is incredibly dangerous to drink. The deeper the well, typically, the greater the risk of poor-quality water.

There are other causes of poor-quality water that relate to the construction of the well. If the well case is corroded, it may leak contaminants into the artesian aquifer. If the well’s surface seal fails, sand and sediment may get into the spring water.

Other natural mineral ions, such as sulfur, might also be present in the area. Even pathogens might be able to leach into the well.

It’s important to treat any water that comes from a natural well, and it’s no different for artesian water. Artesian bottled water is treated to ensure it’s safe for drinking before it hits the shelves. If you have your own well, you’ll need to use a water filter to do the same.

Related: Read my ultimate well water testing guide (Updated for 2021)

Is Artesian Water Worth It?

One thing to remember is that artesian water isn’t automatically contaminant-free, as certain advertising ploys will have you believe.

To recap what I said earlier, there’s virtually no scientific evidence to suggest that artesian water is filtered because the natural pressure in the aquifer of this type of well makes it rise to the top of the aquifer or out of the ground.

Let’s take FIJI water, for example. A bottle of this water has a TDS (or total dissolved solids) reading of approximately 222 – that’s about the same as the TDS level of tap water. Yes, artesian spring water might contain a high level of minerals that contributes to this TDS, but, like tap water, it will likely also contain traces of contaminants – even if it has been treated before being bottled up.

Rather than spending all your cash on artesian bottled water, if you’re just looking to enjoy contaminant-free drinking water, I’d suggest buying yourself an at-home water filter.

There are many filters that enable you to remove the most common contaminants from water while retaining its natural minerals (because yes, tap water also contains calcium, magnesium and fluoride). It’s a smarter, more environmentally-friendly choice that’ll help you to save money in the long run.