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Water Water Everywhere, But Which Is Best To Drink?

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Well Well Well…

In Tuesday’s newsletter, we asked you for your (health-related) opinion on drinking water—with the understanding that this may vary from place to place. We got the above-depicted, below-described, set of responses:

  • About 65% said “Filtered is best”
  • About 20% said “From the mains is best”
  • About 8% said “Bottled is best”
  • About 3% said “Distilled is best”
  • About 3% said “Some other source is best”

Of those who said “some other source is best”, one clarified that their preferred source was well water.

So what does the science say?

Fluoridated water is bad for you: True or False?

False, assuming a normal level of consumption. Rather than take up more space today though, we’ll link to what we previously wrote on this topic:

Q&A: Water Fluoridation

You may be wondering: but what if my level of consumption is higher than normal?

Let’s quickly look at some stats:

  • The maximum permitted safety level varies from place to place, but is (for example) 2mg/l in the US, 1.5mg/l in Canada & the UK.
  • The minimum recommended amount also varies from place to place, but is (for example) 0.7mg/l in Canada and the US, and 1mg/l in the UK.

It doesn’t take grabbing a calculator to realize that if you drink twice as much water as someone else, then depending on where you are, water fluoridated to the minimum may give you more than the recommended maximum.

However… Those safety margins are set so much lower than the actual toxicity levels of fluoride, that it doesn’t make a difference.

For example: your writer here takes a medication that has the side effect of causing dryness of the mouth, and consequently she drinks at least 3l of water per day in a climate that could not be described as hot (except perhaps for about 2 weeks of the year). She weighs 72kg (that’s about 158 pounds), and the toxicity of fluoride (for ill symptoms, not death) is 0.2mg/kg. So, she’d need 14.4mg of fluoride, which even if the water fluoridation here were 2mg/l (it’s not; it’s lower here, but let’s go with the highest figure to make a point), would require drinking more than 7l of water faster than the body can process it.

For more about the numbers, check out:

Acute Fluoride Poisoning from a Public Water System

Bottled water is the best: True or False?

False, if we consider “best” to be “healthiest”, which in turn we consider to be “most nutrients, with highest safety”.

Bottled water generally does have higher levels of minerals than most local mains supply water does. That’s good!

But you know what else is generally has? Microplastics and nanoplastics. That’s bad!

We don’t like to be alarmist in tone; it’s not what we’re about here, but the stats on bottled water are simply not good; see:

We Are Such Stuff As Bottles Are Made Of

You may be wondering: “but what about bottled water that comes in glass bottles?”

Indeed, water that comes in glass bottles can be expected to have lower levels of plastic than water that comes in plastic bottles, for obvious reasons.

However, we invite you to consider how likely you believe it to be that the water wasn’t stored in plastic while being processed, shipped and stored, before being portioned into its final store-ready glass bottles for end-consumer use.

Distilled water is the best: True or False?

False, generally, with caveats:

Distilled water is surely the safest water anywhere, because you know that you’ve removed any nasties.

However, it’s also devoid of nutrients, because you also removed any minerals it contained. Indeed, if you use a still, you’ll be accustomed to the build-up of these minerals (generally simplified and referenced as “limescale”, but it’s a whole collection of minerals).

Furthermore, that loss of nutrients can be more than just a “something good is missing”, because having removed certain ions, that water could now potentially strip minerals from your teeth. In practice, however, you’d probably have to swill it excessively to cause this damage.

Nevertheless, if you have the misfortune of living somewhere like Flint, Michigan, then a water still may be a fair necessity of life. In other places, it can simply be useful to have in case of emergency, of course.

Here’s an example product on Amazon if you’d like to invest in a water still for such cases.

PS: distilled water is also tasteless, and is generally considered bad, tastewise, for making tea and coffee. So we really don’t recommend distilling your water unless you have a good reason to do so.

Filtered water is the best: True or False?

True for most people in most places.

Let’s put it this way: it can’t logically be worse than whatever source of water you put into it…

Provided you change the filter regularly, of course.

Otherwise, after overusing a filter, at best it won’t be working, and at worst it’ll be adding in bacteria that have multiplied in the filter over however long you left it there.

You may be wondering: can water filters remove microplastics, and can they remove minerals?

The answer in both cases is: sometimes.

  • For microplastics it depends on the filter size and the microplastic size (see our previous article for details on that).
  • For minerals, it depends on the filter type. Check out:

The H2O Chronicles | 5 Water Filters That Remove Minerals

One other thing to think about: while most water filtration jugs are made of PFAS-free BPA-free plastics for obvious reasons, for greater peace of mind, you might consider investing in a glass filtration jug, like this one ← this is just one example product on Amazon; by all means shop around and find one you like 😎

Take care!

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