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Is drinking raw spring water good or bad?

Is drinking raw spring water good or bad?

The last couple of months “raw water” picked up momentum as a trend in Silicon Valley and other places. People are buying raw water for us much as $70 per gallon and bragging about its benefits. At the same time this has stirred up controversy as experts are calling it unsafe or just plain stupid.

Why drink raw water?

Humans have mostly drunk untreated fresh water throughout our existence until the last 100 years. Fresh healthy drinking water existed almost everywhere in nature. Water from mountain springs often contains more minerals than surface water (lakes and rivers ) as it picks up minerals from rocks and other elements. Water with high mineral content such as magnesium, calcium, sodium, and iron is beneficial to our health in the long term. Maybe it could also build up resistance to bacteria and other contaminants over time but is it worth the risk trying?

Why could it be bad for you?

All spring water is definitely not equal. Glacier water, for example, should not be consumed at the bottom as it often contains small rock particles (talc), giardia and other parasites. It’s also unwise to consume spring water from mountains nearby polluted cities or industries as it will be polluted by rainwater.

Raw water from a well is definitely not recommended if you live anywhere near a populated or farming area. Unfortunately, humans have managed to pollute groundwater, rivers and lakes with pesticides, industrial waste and all kinds of other bad stuff.

There are also other issues such as bacteria causing diarrhea that our bodies are no longer used too, high levels of certain minerals that are unhealthy or contaminated water.

Is raw water healthier than treated tap water?

There is no scientific proof that it is but nor that it isn’t. Meta-analysis studies of chlorinated tap water have indicated that there may be a small increase in e.g. certain kinds of cancers (colon and breast cancer). The risk is primarily due to bi-products from chlorine which can be vastly reduced with an affordable water filter such as TAPP. On the other hand, removing chlorine treatment would cause millions of people to fall ill or die of water born diseases every year.

In addition to this raw spring water is not necessarily more mineral-rich than tap water.

Treated tap water in hard water areas such as Denver have similar mineral content to mountain springs or bottled spring water for that matter.

What can you do to ensure that your raw water is safe to drink?

Filling up your own bottles in the mountains could be good for the environment, your health and wallet. But to consume raw spring waters safely test it first. Order a test water kit from e.g. Tapp Water for $50, send it to a water test lab and you’ll find out what it contains and if it’s safe to drink.

Alternatively, run the water through a gravity-based water filter but maybe it defeats the purpose of raw water as it will also remove the minerals.

Read more about tap water, mineral water, and water filters on our blog.

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