But we’ve been drinking tap water since forever?!

But we’ve been drinking tap water since forever?!

Water has long been recognized as a valuable and vital resource. So much so, that it inspired the water Gods, rain Gods, Gods of the Sea, and the creation of ‘The Rain Dance’ which is an act or ritual performed by a tribe (or an individual), whereby all participants shake their tail feathers i.e bust a move, outwardly expressing their desire to ‘make it rain.’ This would provide water, which would in turn be used to irrigate, to sustain, to clean, to cook and for purposes of this blog, to drink.

When the early humans weren’t busy not watching television, they were busy plotting ways to clean their water.

By 500 B.C, the Greek scientist Hippocrates had already invented one of the first domestic water filters. In 1627, seawater desalination was attempted by removing salt particles through an unsophisticated form of sand filtration. It wasn’t a raging success but it paved the way for further experimentation. In the 1700′s, the first water filters for domestic application were applied. These were made of wool, sponge and charcoal. In 1854, chlorine was applied to purify the water; this paved the way for water disinfection.

As you can see, water purification is not a new age concept.

Often we get asked: “Tap water can be a source of minerals such as calcium and magnesium.  If I use a water filtration pitcher to filter my tap water, am I removing these nutrients?”

Some minerals are lost as a result of purification and for this reason it has been suggested that there may be adverse outcomes from reliance on desalinated or demineralized water as a result of the loss of mineral nutrients. Some treatments in fact have been designed to replenish the mineral nutrients that were removed.

However, to determine whether the loss of mineral nutrients from water constitutes a nutritional problem, it must first be determined whether drinking water plays a significant role in the total dietary intake of trace minerals.

We took an anonymous brand of 500ml bottled ‘natural spring water’ and tabulated some of the mineral content:

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Calcium is an estimated 1000mg/day. You would have to consume 500 liters of water every day to meet that recommendation. The daily intake for Magnesium is estimated at an average of 400mg/day depending on your age, sex and number of other factors; you’d have to consume around 244 liters of water per day. The RDA for Potassium is around 3500mg/day; so have yourself around 1750 liters of water every day.

Although the above calculations are specific to the particular anonymous brand of water, the bottom line is this: drinking THIS MUCH water would be dangerous, impossible and you’d have to have an under-active bladder that floods for nothing.

One of the greatest downsides of bottled water is its effect on the environment which is littered with emptied plastic bottles; only a small fraction of these bottles can be recycled. Bottled water requires large amounts of energy to produce and transport, taking a further impact on the environment.

Bottled water also has the potential to be more harmful to your health due to the chemicals leaching from the plastic bottles into your water.

According to a study, bottled water does not always taste better than tap water. ABC News did a blind taste test of five bottled waters and tap water and people were asked to rate their favorite and least favorite among all the water.

Tap water came in third and Evian, one of the most expensive brands of bottled water, came in last. Coca Cola, reportedly owners of 60% of the market share in South Africa, were recently under pressure to answer allegations that some brands of the water that it is responsible for selling are bottled from municipal supplies. This left a “bitter taste in the mouths of bottle loyalists”- said tap drinkers with a mouthful of humble pie.

Bottled water is more expensive than tap water or a water filter. Hell, it’s even more expensive than beer and who can compete with that. Economists estimated that the year 2011 would bring the bottled water market to be valued at R628.7-billion.

A 500ml bottle of water averages at about R6, the same amount of tap water costs less than half a cent. The real long-term solution is to ensure that your supply of tap water is as safe and purified as possible.

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