Sparkling water is just one of all bottled water types sometimes referred to as “spring water” but that’s not really accurate. The origin and processing of various types of bottled water actually makes it quite different in taste and content. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-the federal agency that regulates all types of bottled water-has established guidelines called standards of identity that classify bottled water into several different water types:
Spring Water: Ah, the ever-popular “spring water” is defined as bottled water derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth. To qualify as spring water, it must be collected only at the spring or through a borehole tapping the underground formation feeding the spring. If the collection process uses some type of an external force, the water must be from the same stratum as the spring and must retain the quality and all of the same physical properties of water that flows naturally from a spring to the surface.
Purified Water: This is a type of drinking water that has been treated with processes such as distillation, deionization or reverse osmosis (we’ll get to those terms later). Basically, this just means that the bacteria and dissolved solids have been removed from the water by some process, making it “purified.” This type of bottled water is usually labeled as purified drinking water but can also be labeled for the specific process used to produce it, for example, reverse osmosis drinking water or distilled drinking water. Many bottled water brands are actually purified drinking water.
Mineral Water: Okay, ready for some science? Mineral water contains not less than 250 parts per million total dissolved solids and is defined by its constant level and relative proportions of mineral and trace elements at the point of emergence from the source. No minerals can be added to the water.
Sparkling Bottled Water: Yes, the fizzy kind. But what makes it fizzy? This type of water contains the same amount of carbon dioxide that it had when it emerged from its source. Sparkling bottled waters may be labeled as sparkling drinking water, sparkling mineral water, sparkling spring water etc.
Artesian Water/Artesian Well Water: Ready for some more science? Artesian water comes from a well that taps a confined aquifer-a water-bearing underground layer of rock or sand-in which the water level is above the top of the aquifer.
Well Water: This one is pretty easy. Well water is exactly what it sounds like- water from a hole made in the ground that taps the water source.
Municipal/Tap Water: Of course, you know it’s the type of water piped right into your home. While tap water isn’t regulated by the FDA (but we thought it should be included here), it must meet the strict standards of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Normally municipal tap water is of better quality, but, lots of people prefer the taste and enjoy the convenience of bottled water, which, in many cases, undergoes additional processing and some times retains the pleasant characteristics of the source from which it has been brought.
Bottled Water Regulation: The FDA is responsible for the food and pharmaceutical industries, two industries where safety and quality are of paramount importance. And as expected, The FDA is packed of serious customers. Therefore, bottled water is one of the most extensively regulated packaged-food products. The bottled water industry receives government oversight from federal and state agencies across the country, providing consumers with multiple layers of safety assurance – from the finished water product back to the source. Bottled water is required to be tested for the same parameters as tap water, but the standards are, in some cases, stricter than for tap water. State governments inspect and certify the “sources” of spring water, meaning that samples have been analyzed and found to be of a safe and sanitary quality according to regulation.