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Types of Bottle Water: What’s the difference between spring, purified, sparkling and mineral waters?

types of water

While bottled water was a novel concept in the U.S. just a generation ago, now it is one of the most popular choices for Americans. In fact, in 2016, bottled water surpassed carbonated soft drinks as the number one packaged beverage (by volume) in America!

But not just any water can be called "bottled water." Bottled water is defined as a consumer food product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with strict standards of identity. As such, the FDA requires companies to clearly identify the "type" of water on the label of all bottled water sold in the United States. Nestlé Waters North America puts its bottled water through rigorous quality testing to make sure it’s safe, delicious, and meets FDA standards before being packaged for consumers.

Keep reading to learn about the different types of bottled water.

What makes the different types of bottled water unique?

Besides the bubbles in sparkling water, most of the differences are things you can’t see. There are unique sources and quality-control processes that make the brands and types of bottled water special and distinct.

Is bottled water safe?

Bottled water is one of the most extensively regulated packaged food products available in the U.S. In accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, FDA regulations for bottled water are at least as stringent as those imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for municipal drinking water. In fact, federal regulations are stronger for bottled water than for tap water when it comes to key contaminants, including lead.

What is spring water?

Spring water comes from an underground formation and must naturally flow to the earth’s surface. It is collected at the surface or, like some Nestlé Waters brands, through a borehole that allows access to the water underground. When withdrawn for bottling, spring water needs to maintain the original and natural character that defines what it means to be spring water. The source is carefully monitored for consistency, quality, and safety.

What is purified water?

Purified water has been treated by specific processes to remove impurities. Both the source of the water to be purified (e.g., a well or municipal water source) and the type of purification procedure can vary. Distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis, and filtering are among the standard purification treatments that may meet FDA standards. Water must meet the purified sterile standard of the U.S. Pharamcopeia 23rd Revision.

Learn more about the Nestlé® Pure Life® 12-Step Quality Process

What is sparkling water?

Sparkling water is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. More often than not, the sparkling water available on store shelves is the result of carbonation added after the water is collected. Additionally, the label mentions the water source, for example: “sparkling spring water” or “sparkling mineral water.” Confused by the differences between seltzer, soda water, and sparkling bottled water? They all fall within the sparkling water category.

What is mineral water?

Mineral water comes from an underground water source, similar to spring water. But it can only be called "mineral water" if it has a minimum of 250 parts per million (ppm) total dissolved solids (TDS). TDS are the minerals and small amounts of organic matter dissolved in water. Once bottled, the TDS levels need to stay the same. Minerals cannot be artificially added. If the TDS content of mineral water is below 500 ppm, you may see “low mineral content” on the label.

Which types of bottled water are the best?

The answer is simple: They're all good! When you’re making a bottled water comparison, remember, all water is hydrating—bubbles or no bubbles, spring, purified or mineral water—as long as you’re drinking it.