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By: Michael Colvin on May 8th, 2020

Where Does Bottled Water Come From?

Bottled water is serious business. 

Seemingly every year a new record is set with respect to sales of bottled water. But bottled water is no new fad. 

In fact, the industry is over 500 years old, though the sales back in the 1500s were certainly a far cry from the nearly $16 billion worth of sales recorded in 2016. Nonetheless, good water has always had a place of value in the human experience. 

Certainly we at Exell believe in the value of water and its impact into the lives of our customers. But there is a question we are asked a lot that we wanted to take a moment and address:

Where Does Bottled Water Come From?

When shopping for the best water for you and your family, or your office, you can come across a surprising amount of choices: spring water, artesian spring water,  well water, distilled water, purified water, mineral water.

Does the source really matter when it comes to bottled water?

In a word…yes.

The Beginning of an Industry

In the early days of the bottled water industry, as early as the mid-16th century in certain parts of Europe – Spain Belgium, Vichy in France, Ferrarelle in Italy and Apollinaris in Germany, to name a few – already claims were being made about the healing properties of special waters.

The most common of these early forays into the bottled water world were spring water and mineral water. Mineral water was touted for its medicinal properties, and spring water flowing unimpeded from  inside the earth to the surface was thought to be especially pure.

From Sparkling to Mineral…the Rarest Waters on Earth

The two rarest types of water – mineral water  and sparkling water – were bottled for export in the earliest days of the industry and continue to be popular  bottled water products.

Mineral water is water from a well or spring that contains at least 250 parts per million (ppm)  of naturally dissolved solids. An early and persistent belief is that some of these solids can provide health benefits beyond other types of water or in some cases even medicine. 

While there has been no rigorous study done that confirms the claims of specific health benefits of mineral water, belief in the healing properties of this water continues to this day. There’s no doubt that belief helped spawn the industry.

In order to be sold as mineral water today, the producer or bottler may not add any solids to the water outside what is naturally occurring and the source of these waters must be clearly and properly identified. 

Sparkling water just like mineral water must come from a natural source and contains naturally occurring dissolved carbon dioxide. Such water is a geologic rarity. One can imagine what a curiosity such water must have been to the ancients when they took those first few sips. Fun fact about sparkling water is that the producer may replace any carbon dioxide that is lost in the bottling process, but it may not add more carbon dioxide than the water contains at its source.

Modern Sources of Drinking Water

There is a level underground below which the ground is saturated with water. This is called the water table. Most drinking water around the world comes from wells – holes dug through the earth reaching below the water table. Well water is potable, typically, but can vary wildly with respect to taste and composition. Nonetheless well water has sustained many generations of modern humans, and still provides the source of water for many of those living in rural conditions.

Tap water is drinkable water provided by city water systems. Tap water is inexpensive, abundant and susceptible to many impurities. Most major American cities have tap water that emerges from water treatment facilities where surface water from say a reservoir is exposed to various chemical and physical treatments aimed at killing parasites, bacteria, and other sources of waterborne illness as well as filtering out solids and other impurities. 

While there are health standards imposed by government institutions like the FDA and the EPA aimed at regulating the level of certain contaminants, watchdog groups like the Environmental Working Group contend that not only are these standards not being met, but even if they were being met, the tap water would still pose a risk since the government’s standards are not sufficient.

Paying a Premium Price for a Pedestrian Product

Believe it or not, many bottled water companies simply bottle tap water or take tap water and put it through processes such as distillation filtration or reverse osmosis. Done correctly, these processes can render a very clean, nearly pure end product.

No doubt, water processing treatment facilities in the emergence of water as a utility has contributed to human beings’ ability to create civilizations and thrive in the modern world. 

But, do you want to pay for bottled tap water that has been run through a process that you can do for a fraction of the cost? 

So What Exactly is “Bottled Spring Water”

Spring water as its name suggests flows from a natural spring. Technically, a spring is a pathway where groundwater flows to reach the earth’s surface. For ancient populations spring water was like a gift from God. Mysterious, vital, life-sustaining. Even today, springs are vitally important and produce some of the most delicious refreshing water around. But, not all springs produce exceptional drinking water. There is one type of spring that will always produce clean, pure drinking water…

What does “Artesian” mean?

The gold standard of springs when it comes to drinking water is the Artesian spring,  or a spring emerging from an artesian aquifer. But what does artesian mean? For that matter, what is an aquifer? Stated simply, there is water flowing underground…rivers, even. 

These rivers occur when the space between two solid rock or clay layers opens up is filled with sediment and very porous rock. Water collects in the space between solid layers – this is an aquifer.  The water flows based on gravity in the path of least resistance.  The process of water flowing through sedimentary rock cleans and purifies the water. As the aquifer fills, pressure builds up. Whenever there is a crack or a pathway to the surface of the earth from this pressurized underground river – water pushes through the opening to the surface – emerging as what is considered to be the purest of all natural drinking water sources…an artesian spring.

Have Artesian Spring Water Delivered…

At Exell, we deliver artesian spring water bottled at the source to maintain that purity directly to your home or office. So the next time you have a nice glass of ice water from your Exell water cooler, you’ll know the water not too long ago was running under pressure underground in a naturally occurring artesian aquifer. 

Just as those first enterprising bottlers do 500+ years ago, the right source makes all the difference.

Is your family destined for artesian spring water? What about your work “family” – are you thinking filtration or purification? We’d love to visit your office or residence to perform a site survey to help you make a decision based on your current circumstances. No matter which solution you choose, you’ll be taking part in perhaps the oldest search in human history – the search for the best drinking water available.