Types of Drinking Water: Alkaline, Ionized, Purified and More

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As we focus on better health, there are several different types of drinking water to choose from. It’s important to know how each one differs and which one is best for you and your family.

glass of water outside on a rock ledge
What type of water do you drink?

There are only a few things that humans absolutely require for survival, and water is high up on that list. We are, after all, composed of 70 percent water. It should follow naturally that our hydration levels are intimately linked with our health and well-being.

However, what many people do not know is that not all water is the same. Depending on the individual properties of different types of water, it can be more or less suited for different applications or more or less compatible with your body’s needs.

Knowing what type of water you need and catering to your body’s chemistry can be an excellent way to improve your health. Water is one of the building blocks of life, and drinking the right water can make a significant difference in your life.

woman drinking water in glass outside from a natural spring

There are actually several different ways to categorize water, depending on its various properties. For this article we will look at the 7 most popular types of drinking water.

  1. Ionized water
  2. Alkaline water
  3. Purified water
  4. Distilled water
  5. Spring water
  6. Mineral water
  7. Tap water

We’re going to break down all of these different types for you and explain how pH helps to determine the effects of your water as well.

Consider this water 101 and take steps to get healthier today!

What Makes Each Type of Drinking Water Different?

Water can be classified into different types using many different factors. Purification processes, ionization processes, the original source of the water, its pH level, and other attributes all come under consideration.

That means that in some – but not all – cases water may fit in more than one of these categories. For example, water can be both mineral and alkaline water, or both distilled and purified water.

Distilled Water

Distilled water refers to water that has been put through a very thorough process known as distillation. This process involves boiling the water until it completely evaporates and then capturing the vapor and allowing it to condense again. The end result is water that is free of dissolved minerals.

glasses of water
Distilled Water is purified through boiling.

It does have some health benefits in certain circumstances, like supervised detoxification. However, it tends toward acidity because water is very effective at absorbing carbon dioxide through the air.

It isn’t recommended for long-term use as plain drinking water. It is, however, often useful for making coffee or for non-drinking applications that require very pure water. Distilled water can be purchased at grocery and drug stores.

Spring Water

The simplest definition of spring water was coined by the Environmental Protection Agency – it’s water that comes from underground sources like aquifers.  That’s why you often see spring water illustrated as bubbling forth from a mountain side, as mountains often house these underground sources. Many bottled water brands are spring water. Many people prefer it thanks to its natural taste and rich mineral content.

filling a bottle with water direct from a natural spring

However, there is some debate regarding its safety, with the National Resources Defense Council suggesting that harmful contaminants in bottled water can outweigh the benefits. Bottled water also isn’t very environmentally friendly due to the waste plastic produced. Spring water can be purchased at grocery stores, convenience stores, and other retailers.

Mineral Water

Mineral water comes in both still and carbonated varieties. It refers to water which has been mineralized naturally.

Carbonation can subtract from the benefits mineral water offers. Even still mineral water, however, can pose problems if it contains contaminants, much like spring water.  Mineral water can be purchased at grocery stores, convenience stores, and other retailers.

Ionized Water

Ionized water is water that has been exposed to an ionizer, a device that utilizes electromagnetic technology to separate positively charged molecules from negatively charged ones.

water bubbles in a circle representing ionized water

These devices also incorporate a filter for contaminants. Ionizers can be useful for creating alkaline water. However, they aren’t the most efficient method because they create a fair amount of waste water, often up to 50 percent. Ionized water must be produced via an ionizer at home or at a restaurant that offers the service.

Tap Water

Tap water, as its name suggests, is water that comes directly from your home faucet.  Tap water is generally safe, but its safety is highly dependent upon the region you live in.

water dripping out of the kitchen tap

Some municipalities go through greater lengths to ensure that their tap water is safe for drinking than others. If you do intend to drink tap water, invest in some water testing tools to check for contaminants and to determine its pH.

Purified Water

Purifed water is an umbrella term that tells you the water has been through some sort of purification process. The name encompasses many kinds of water.

large jugs of water being delivered to an office

You don’t really know much about the water from the term alone; you’ll need to research which process was used and its effects. For example, filtering, distillation, and reverse osmosis are all types of “purification.” Various types of purified water can be found at grocery stores, convenience stores, and other retailers.

Alkaline Water

Alkaline water is defined by its pH. “Alkaline” is the opposite of acidic. Pure water is neutral on the pH scale, with a score of around 7. Alkaline water, on the other hand, is usually water with a pH of 8 to 10. Higher pH water exists, but the 8-10 range is more suitable for drinking.

Many advocates claim that alkaline water has a number of health benefits, perhaps the most important of which is its ability to help neutralize acid in your body. Helpful elements that contribute to alkalinity include calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium, and potassium.

As a result, your body expends less energy because it doesn’t have to work as hard to neutralize the acidity you add to it in the forms of food, beverages, or stressors. It’s also easier for your body to excrete alkaline water because its components break down into carbon dioxide and water.

Bawell Water Ionizer
The Bawell Platinum Alkaline Water Ionizer Machine

Alkaline water can occur naturally or it can be created by taking a purified water and adding helpful minerals and elements back to it to create consistently uncontaminated, alkaline water. It can be purchased by the bottle, but there are alkaline water machines and filtered pitchers available that can alkalinize your water for you at home.

The 5 Water pH Types

As we’ve explained, alkaline water is defined by its pH. There are five different pH ranges that are used to describe types of water, including and in addition to alkaline water.

  • Strongly Alkaline Water (pH 11)

Strongly alkaline water is not considered ideal for drinking, but it is useful in other ways. For example, many people prefer it for food preparation because it is very effective at removing pesticides and wax coatings found on some fruits and vegetables. It can also inhibit bacteria growth by removing unwanted proteins and fats. It’s a great cleaning tool because it’s extremely efficient at grease removal.

  • Drinking Water (pH 8.5-9.5)

Many people consider the ideal pH of drinking water to rest somewhere between 8.5 and 9.5. This slightly elevated alkalinity can help your body adjust its pH more easily. The body can easily use this water, and it may help relieve some health problems. It’s also great for food preparation, as it helps to enhance the flavor of your food. It’s even beneficial for plants.

  • Neutral Water (pH 7)

While alkaline drinking water may typically be the best choice for drinking, it’s not always what you need. Babies, for example, have extremely alkaline bodies and don’t need to consume alkaline water. If you need to add water to your baby’s food or if you give them water to drink, use a contaminant-free neutral water.

  • Beauty Water (pH 4-6)

Acidic water may not be ideal for drinking, but slightly acidic water does have its uses. For example, it’s an excellent facial toner and aftershave. It also helps to detangle your hair. Spritz a little on your dog’s or cat’s coats and brush to leave it soft and shiny. No wonder it’s called beauty water!

  • Strongly Acidic Water (pH <4)

There are some specialized uses for acidic water, including some medical treatments for fungus or other skin conditions. It’s also used as a disinfectant in commercial and healthcare settings.

tesing the pH of drinking water
Testing with pH Test Strips is a quick way to determine the Ph of your drinking water.

Alkaline vs Ionized water

First, remember that water can be both ionized and alkaline. However, we’re going to compare the two because both are purported to have various health benefits.

As already discussed, one issue with ionization is that it creates a lot of “waste” water (although this water can be utilized as beauty water, for example).

Another issue with ionized water is convenience. You can’t get bottled ionized water, as the negative charge applied to it doesn’t last very long. It’s a temporary state. That means that you have to run water though the ionizer every single time you want a drink. It does, however, have powerful antioxidant properties.

Alkaline water, on the other hand, maintains its alkalinity when properly stored. That means you have quite a few options for alkaline drinking water. You can buy it in bottled form, for example. You can also get alkaline filters and filtered pitchers. You can always have a convenient source of alkaline drinking water at hand.

It is possible, of course, to have the best of both worlds by using an ionizer that outputs alkaline drinking water. Shop around to find an ionizing system that provides water in the requisite pH range for alkaline drinking water that also suits your family’s size and routines.

Which Types of Drinking Water Do You Drink?

Now you know everything you need to know about types of water. Take note of what water types you’re using in your daily life and what you’re using them for. You may very well find that being conscientious about water types can improve your health, your mental state, and your overall wellness.

Prioritizing hydration and the kinds of water you use is an amazingly easy way to have a positive effect on your physical health. Knowledge is power, and you now have the power to maximize the benefits you get from your water.

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