Bottled Water – How should it taste?

We think water should taste like it did when you were a child running around in a rain shower with your tongue out.

You remember that sweet, fresh, clean taste as the rainwater fell from the sky landing softly on your tongue!

This is a perplexing question. How should bottled water taste? The major brands all say that their water is pure, that it comes from natural sources and that the Stuff in their water makes theirs taste better. The label of Glaceau Smart Water clearly reads; “Is it just us or do clouds get a bad rap? While we admit they’re not as great to have around on a beach day, as say, the sun, clouds are unsung heroes because they contain nature’s purest source of water.  Meanwhile, spring water comes from the ground and contains random stuff and whatever else the animals that swim in it leave behind.” We will call this the Glaceau Smart Water Clause. By this statement we can deduce that rainwater is arguably nature’s purest source of water.

Glaceau Smart Water is owned by Coca Cola. It is distilled tap water and contains Sulfate ­10ppm, Nitrate – 6.2ppm and Chloride – 9.6ppm, has a pH of 7.0 and a TDS of 36ppm.  Ironically Coke’s Dasani bottled water contains Sulfate -10ppm, Nitrate – 6.2ppm and Chloride

– 4.2ppm, has a ph of 4.0 and a TDS of 36ppm, surprisingly similar results for the two coke products except for the differences in pH. Dasani, at 4.0 ph, is acidic. Glaceau Smart Water is neutral, like rain, after adding potassium bicarbonate.

pH and taste Many theories exist on the pH of water. Most claim that a pH above 7.0 is desired. This conclusion supports the fact that our body is acidic and produces acids. A low, acidic, pH drink exacerbates the body’s natural tendency to move towards neutrality. Voss, Perrier, Penta, Aquafina, Crystal Springs and Dasani all have an acidic pH. Some contend that low pH water does not hydrate our body as well as higher pH fluids. Acidic water, by definition, has a higher concentration of hydrogen atoms. Alkaline water has more hydroxyls. Hydroxyls are equal concentrations of both hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Alkaline water, therefore, has a higher concentration of oxygen atoms than acidic water. The amount of oxygen in water increases as the pH rises. But, some also find high pH water to leave a dry taste in our mouths thereby not really quenching our thirst.

Pure water has a neutral pH of 7.0. Rainwater is typically considered neutral with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0.

Low pH acid rain forms when emissions of SO2 (sulphur dioxide) and NOx (Nitrous oxide) combine. Sulphur Dioxide emissions are mostly found from Coal-fired Power Stations and metal-working industries. Nitrous Oxide emissions are mostly found in vehicles and fuel combustion. Sulphur Dioxide reacts with water vapor in the air and sunlight to form Sulphuric Acid. The same occurs with Nitrous Oxide forming nitric acid. When mist or droplets condense, they remove pollutants from the air. This then falls to the earth in the form of rain, which is known as Acid Rain. Snow can also have this in it. Acid rain typically has a pH as low as 4.0, similar to Dasani and Aquafina, and up to 6.0.

Alkaline water is ballyhooed by many as the preferred water to drink. Higher energy levels combined with a multitude of health claims are put forth to support this argument. High pH ­According to the US Geological Survey, “High pH causes a bitter taste.” According to the US EPA a Low pH gives a metallic taste. Rainwater has a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Ocean water has a pH of 8.0. A pH above 10.0 will kill most fish. Confusing, isn’t it? My personal feeling is that nature intended for us to drink pure water with a neutral pH. So, my conclusion is to drink rainwater captured from a pure source near the ocean.

TDS – Total Dissolved Solids – What is this? According to the Glaceau Smart Water Clause this would be “random stuff and whatever else the animals that swim in it leave behind.” TDS is defined as “stuff” dissolved in the water. I agree with Coke. The less stuff the better.  Rainwater starts out pure – without stuff. Everything else has stuff in it. Now, all “Stuff” is not necessarily bad. Stuff can add taste and minerals to the water. For instance, Potassium bicarbonate is added to bottled water to affect taste giving it a slightly salty taste and increasing the pH to counteract the acidic pH from Reverse Osmosis. The poison, Chlorine is added to disinfect the water then it is mostly removed but often leaves a residual taste.

Evian and Perrier have a lot of “Stuff” in their water with TDS’s of 320ppm and 479ppm, respectively. Fiji varies from 111 to 210 ppm TDS. While VOSS, Dasani, Iceland Pure, Aquafina and Smart Water tout TDS’s below 50ppm. People tend to be brand loyal and have acquired a taste for their brand. The minerals and other Stuff dissolved in the waters distinguish the water brands by region, water source and sub-structure of land affecting the water’s taste. But, it all starts as groundwater and is subject to the Glaceau Smart Water clause! Rainwater has a natural TDS of less than 15ppm, a lower starting TDS than most bottled waters are able to achieve with processing.

Treatment methodologies can dramatically affect taste. I went to a restaurant and asked for a glass of water? When I tasted it, I got a strong taste of chlorine, Sulphur and other minerals. I couldn’t even drink it. The tap water they used was apparently so bad that the treatment called for lots of chlorine. Chlorine, a known carcinogen, is a poison meant to kill things. Your water should not taste like chlorine. Alternative treatments exist that are much less harmful to your health.

Popular treatments include Micro-filtration, Ozone Infusion, Ultra-violet Light and Reverse Osmosis. Ozone and UV light, found in the clouds, act much like chlorine in that they rid the water of harmful pathogens which precipitate and are filtered out of the water. Because ozone, O3, is a type of oxygen, it quickly dissipates into the same type of oxygen gas we breathe, O2, and does not leave any residual taste in the water. Ozone attaches to other organic molecules in the water and oxidizes them. In effect -the Ozone “eats ’em up.” Ultra violet light deeply penetrates to the DNA levels of microorganisms; thereby killing them with no residual effect. Reverse Osmosis is a micro-filtration process that tends to produce a low TDS but dangerous chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, and chlorine are molecularly smaller than water and can pass freely through the filter. Water subjected to Reverse Osmosis seems to be tasteless and flat. It also seems to carry a very low pH, making it acidic. Additionally, two to five gallons of water are wasted for every gallon of purified water produced through reverse osmosis. Several bottled waters we know pass through multiple filters, then RO, then deionization, then distillation, then re-ionization to give it taste and finally filtration yet again. Why not just start with rainwater in the first place?

Tim Varan, an Orlando wine critic and owner of several wine shops says; rainwater “is an excellent water for wine tasting. The clean flavor, lack of chlorine taste and balanced acidity doesn’t get in the way of subtle nuances in great wines.”

Taste tests comparing bottled waters produce very interesting results. If the person knows which bottled water they are drinking, they often prefer their customary brand. Fiji followers prefer Fiji, Evian followers prefer Evian. However, when we offer bottled rainwater in comparison to any other bottled water the results speak volumes. I encourage you to taste Fiji, Dasani, Voss or your water, then taste rainwater, then taste Fiji, Dasani, Voss or your water again. Surprised, you will likely say “Wow!” They all have a definite taste when compared to rainwater. Which is better? Has bottled water evolved or degenerated over time?

Rainwater tastes sweet, clean and fresh like you remembered as a child running around with your tongue out!

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Larry Curran

Larry Curran

I have a passion for rainwater. In 2004, I built a home in Florida that uses rainwater as the only source of water. After retirement and 40 years as a CPA/ CFO, I formed Choose Rain, Inc., a small cap public company trading as “CHOS” OTCPK, to serve a sustainable need for bottled water with a low impact on the environment.
Larry Curran
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