Drinking enough water is essential to your health, as it helps every cell in your body work properly. That’s why it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Many types of water are on the market, with spring and purified varieties being among the most popular. This may lead you to wonder how they differ, and whether you should choose one over the other.

This article explains the difference between spring water and purified water.

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Spring water is a popular form of bottled water. It comes from groundwater, which is water that exists underground in an aquifer that sits at or below the earth’s natural water table (1, 2, 3).

As water naturally flows to the ground’s surface, it’s collected at the opening of a spring. It can also be collected directly underground from a borehole (1, 2, 3).

This water is generally considered pre-purified, as it has traveled through natural filters like limestone, sandstone, and clay (3, 4).

Once collected, it’s sampled and analyzed to ensure it meets strict safety standards set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Finally, it’s bottled and ready to be sold (1, 2, 5).

Summary

Spring water comes from underground water. It has been naturally filtered and is collected at the opening of a spring or from a borehole.

Purified water is water that has been mechanically filtered or processed to remove impurities like bacteria, viruses, chemical pollutants, and minerals like lead and copper (6).

In most developed countries, including the United States and Canada, tap water is purified to ensure it’s safe for consumption.

It undergoes various treatment methods. Simply put, these include (7):

  1. Coagulation and flocculation. The first step of the purification process involves adding positively charged chemicals to the water. This neutralizes negatively charged chemicals like dirt and contaminants. It also creates larger particles called floc.
  2. Sedimentation. Due to the heavier weight of floc, it settles to the bottom of the water supply. This leaves clear water above it.
  3. Filtration. The clear water is filtered through numerous filters of different sizes and compositions, such as charcoal, sand, and gravel. This removes bacteria, dirt, dust, chemical contaminants, and other unwanted particles.
  4. Disinfection. The final step involves adding a chemical disinfectant like chlorine or chloramine to kill any remaining bacteria or viruses. The amount of chlorine permitted is strictly monitored to ensure it’s safe for human consumption.

Other purification methods may also be used to produce bottled water or at home, such as (1, 8):

  • Reverse osmosis: feeding water through membranes to remove minerals
  • Distillation: heating water until it’s converted into steam to remove unwanted particles, then the steam is recondensed into liquid water
  • Deionization: a process that removes all mineral salts via ion exchange, meaning it replaces dissolved minerals with hydrogen and hydroxide particles
  • Ozonation: infusing ozone into water to disinfect water — most companies that bottle water use ozone gas as a disinfectant instead of chlorine due to its less distinct taste and smell
  • Absolute 1-micron filtration: forcing water through extremely small filters — in fact, they’re smaller than 1 micron (around 0.00004 inches)

If companies can meet the required FDA and EPA guidelines for safety, they can label their water as “purified” (1).

If preferred, you can purchase at-home filters to purify your tap water. For example, the Brita filter uses activated carbon ion exchange to remove contaminants like lead, chlorine, and mercury (9).

Summary

Purified water usually comes from groundwater or tap water. It’s treated in a water processing plant to remove impurities and contaminants. You can also purchase in-home filters to purify your tap water.

If you’re wondering which type of water to choose, rest assured that both are excellent choices.

Both spring water and purified water must meet strict safety standards set by the FDA and EPA, making them safe for you to drink.

The type of water you should choose depends mostly on your preferences and what’s accessible to you. In many cases, people choose the type of water that tastes best to them, which can be largely subjective.

Ultimately, you should choose the water that you’re most likely going to drink.

Summary

Both spring water and purified water meet strict safety standards and are safe for humans to drink. Choose the type that best aligns with your preferences and is accessible.

How much water you need per day depends on many factors, including your physical activity levels, climate, age, health status, and more.

As such, it’s best to follow these general principles (10):

  • Drink when you feel thirsty.
  • Drink enough to achieve clear or pale-yellow urine.
  • Increase your water intake to compensate for water loss, for example after sweating during exercise or in the heat.

If you’re trying to drink more water, here are some helpful tips:

  • Keep a reusable water bottle with you.
  • Try to sip water every 15–30 minutes.
  • Add fruit, herbs, or vegetables — like lemon, cucumber, or mint — to enhance the taste.
  • Set reminders on your phone.
  • Replace sugary drinks like soda and energy drinks with water.
  • If the taste of tap water is an issue to you, invest in an at-home water filter.
Summary

To keep yourself hydrated, make water your drink of choice and enjoy it regularly throughout the day.

Water is essential to life, and drinking enough of it has many benefits.

In most developed countries, we’re privileged to have a variety of options for clean, safe drinking water to choose from. Spring water and purified water are popular and excellent choices.

Spring water is naturally filtered underground. It’s collected from springs or boreholes. Meanwhile, purified water is any type of water that has undergone a controlled filtration and purification process to remove impurities and contaminants.

The type you choose should largely depend on your personal preferences and what’s accessible to you. Both are safe options that meet strict safety standards.

At the end of the day, pick the type of water you’re most likely to drink.