Bottled water, often called drinking water, is usually bottled at the source and sealed in safe drinking containers. There are many types of bottled water, held inside many types of unique shaped bottles. It seems the fancier the bottle, the more expensive the water inside. Let's take a look at the kinds of bottled water available:
Spring water: this comes from an underground formation and must flow naturally to the earth's surface or through a sanitary borehole.
Purified drinking water: this type of water has been processed to remove chlorine and a majority of dissolved solids, such as magnesium. The source is not required to be named unless it is untreated public source of water.
Naturally sparkling water: this is naturally carbonated from a spring or artesian well.
Seltzer Water: the FDA regulates this as a soft drink, which means rules are less strict than those for bottled water.
Mineral water: typically from a spring, this contains dissolved solids like calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, silica and bicarbonates.
Bottling water starts at the source. There are several sources to find water: protected underground springs, wells and municipal supplies. The next step is to filter the water through multi-barrier sources which could included source protections, source monitoring, reverse osmosis, ultraviolet light, distillation, micron filtration and ozonation. Water bottlers may use one or more of those processes. In fact, deciding to carry bottled water requires much insight, with two major considerations being water source and what equipment will be used to produce it.
Source: The source of water plays a key role in the quantity and quality of water one wants to produce, as well as to remain profitable. About a quarter of all bottled water comes from municipal supplies, with the rest coming from natural sources like springs and wells. But, regardless of where the water is flowing from, is privy to all the aforementioned testing from the agencies. One thing to take into consideration is what and organics and inorganic compounds are present at the source, and if it is practical or not to invest in equipment to remove them.
Equipment: Who wants water that is not clear, smells funny and tastes weird? The organic compounds, like metal ions, in water can contribute to these things. So, the processes mentioned above can help literally clear up the water. To reiterate, these are some of the processes: Membrane filtration can remove organic impurities, metal and other ions. Ozonization can break down organic constituents and reduce their odor potential while also sanitizing to minimize further microbial contamination. But, whichever filtration system is chosen, the plant will be built to spec.
The two biggest selling types of bottled water are spring water and purified water. And, although the end result may taste the same, the processes of filtering are quite different. With spring water, the source must be an actual spring. The label must say so. And, the spring must be able to sustain the water production to make the choice to bottle it from there an economical choice. Not that would should be talking about beer in a water informational article, but you often hear in commercials that the beer is made with water from the Rocky Mountain springs. A typical spring water treatment process includes a filtration system that generally runs in series 5-micron filtration to 0.2-micron filtration. After the filtration process, the spring water is then usually treated with ozone to disinfect and preserve the water in the bottle. By maintaining the nature of the spring water, ozone is considered to be an acceptable disinfectant. Ozone oxidizes bacteria and organic materials and, over time, reverts back to oxygen.
Purified water is the most highly treated and closely regulated bottled water product by the FDA and IBWA, but also offers the most consistent and highest quality water to the consumer. It is noted that consumers of bottled water prefer the taste of purified water over other types. Bottlers say the consistent flavor is a result of the purification process. There are three primary processes used to produce purified water: deionization, distillation and reverse osmosis. Most bottlers choose RO over the others because of the many advantages, including reduced cost and increased performance. Some of these advantages also include removing nearly all organic compounds and up to 99% of ions and it rejects 99% of viruses, bacteria and fever producing substances. Also, RO is more energy efficient.
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