A couple of decades ago, people turn to the tap for drinking water. Now, most people, both young and old, drink water from bottles. In fact, the demand for bottled water is so great that it has become a multimillion-peso business in the country today.
Why is there a substantial growth in the demand for bottled water? The main reason is the increasing health consciousness of the people. Many people prefer bottled water because they question the cleanliness of tap water. The quality of tap water has been decreasing. To be safe, people choose bottled water to avoid drinking water that may be contaminated with harmful microorganisms. Contaminated water can cause diarrhea and other stomach disorders that kill, like dysentery, gastroenteritis, amoebiasis, cholera, and hepatitis.
Mostly, the bottled water that you buy is either mineral water or purified water. Water plants use surface water or ground water as the main raw material. These plants are located in places far from cities and industrial centers to avoid contamination.
Mineral water comes from mineral springs. It normally contains a high content of mineral salts or gases, and which consequently may have an action on the human body different from that of ordinary water. Mineral waters are usually classified as alkaline, saline, chalybeate (iron-containing), sulfurous, acidulous, and arsenical.
Mineral springs are generated deep underground, where, under intense heat and pressure, calcium, iron, potassium, sodium, and other minerals are leached from the surrounding rocks.
Mineral water is also called aerated water. (The term “aerated” means charged with gas.) The most common gases that are in mineral water are carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide.
GUIDELINES FOR BOTTLED MINERAL WATERS
There are strict rules for water to be labeled as mineral water. Genuine mineral water should contain the right percentage of such minerals as manganese, chromium, selenium, zinc, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and other minerals.
In California, United States, to be labeled “mineral water,” the water must contain 550 parts per million (ppm) of total dissolved solids (TDS).
In Europe, mineral water must meet several criteria. One is that the water must flow freely from its source, meaning it may not be pumped or forced from the ground, and the water must be bottled directly at its source. Furthermore, the water’s properties, such as its temperature, mineral balance, and pressure have not varied in ten years.
Some better known brands of mineral water in Europe include Evian and Ferrier of France, Ferarrele of Italy, and Apollinaris of Germany. All these conatin 330, 560, 1,400, and 2,250 ppm of TDS, respectively.
MEDICINAL EFFECTS OF MINERAL WATER
It has long been believed that mineral springs possess great curative powers. In fact, people have used mineral water since ancient times to cure such ailments as rheumatism, skin infections, and poor digestion. Also, many effervescing waters (impregnated with carbon dioxide gas) are used as table beverages and to dilute spirits or wines.
Because of the springs’ medicinal effects, medicinal spas have been built around mineral springs. These spas are frequented by people who are hoping that the spring’s waters will relieve them of their ailments, such as gout, liver trouble, indigestion, and rheumatism.
Water that is treated by the process of distillation forms distilled water. This substance is purer than the original water because salt and other impurities do not evaporate with the water.
Distillation is the principal method for purifying water. In this process, the water is vaporized into steam, the steam is condensed back into liquid water, and the water is collected in a separate container, leaving behind the impurities.
Other methods of water purification include chlorine treatment, ozone treatment, ultraviolet decontamination, and oxidation-reduction media. Also, one method of water purification is with the use of iodinated resin.
Iodinated resin can destroy even the smallest viruses through electrostatic attraction. Negatively charged contaminants are drawn to the positively charged resin. This ensures contact, no matter how small the microorganisms that might otherwise escape if filters are used. Upon contact, the resin releases sufficient iodine to penetrate and kill the microorganisms.
PRODUCING SAFE, PURE WATER
One of the most effective methods of producing safe, pure water consists of a three-step process. The first step is the use of sediment filters to remove large particles. The sediment filter acts to screen out suspended matter and can also remove many harmful bacteria and protozoa that may be present in the water.
The second step is to purify the water through the use of iodinated resin. This devitalizes even the smallest harmful microorganisms within the water. Biological contaminants could also be removed by exposure to ultraviolet light, killing the microorganisms that may still be in the water.
The third step is the use of carbon filters to remove taste- and odor-causing contaminants. The filter’s activated carbon and its ion exchange resin remove unwanted ions and molecules from water, leaving those that make water pleasant to drink. The activated carbon also initiates a chemical reaction that converts free chlorine, which water utilities put in water to kill germs, into chloride and hydrogen ions, which are safe and taste all right.
Other systems in bottling water consist of several steps that utilize both purification and filtration processes. In some systems, water is passed through as many as 16 stages in the whole process.
Water is an all-important substance that sustains life here on earth. However, safe, pure water is becoming a rare commodity everywhere. Bottled water, whether mineral or distilled, offers safe drinking water for all of us.