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Understanding your store-bought water

Understanding your store-bought water.

Understanding your store-bought water

Hollis Callaway, founder of Montane Sparkling Spring Water, says that the water you think is delicious is purely a matter of palate.
Hollis Callaway, founder of Montane Sparkling Spring Water, says that the water you think is delicious is purely a matter of palate.

From spring and mineral to alkaline and artesian, it’s hard to keep up with the differences on bottled or canned water labels. What’s best? What’s just smart marketing verbiage that could be driving up the cost (for no good reason)? Here, we tapped Hollis Callaway, Buckhead resident and founder of Montane Sparkling Spring Water, to explain the nuances among various waters so you can make a more informed decision for yourself.


Think: Poland Spring, Montane, Arrowhead

To be classified as a spring water, it must naturally flow out of the ground. Natural pressure forces spring water through rock that filters it. “Spring waters that have been tested have demonstrated excellent quality water. Depending on the type of rock it goes through, the water will have different profiles, the biggest components of which are minerality and alkalinity,” says Callaway. When in doubt, you can’t really go wrong with the quality of a spring water.


Think: Acqua Panna, Evian, Sanpellegrino

Any spring water can be a mineral water, too, says Callaway. While there is not an exact, widespread definition for this, mineral water typically contains a large quantity of dissolved minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium or silica. “Most European spring waters are considered to be mineral waters because of their higher mineral content.” A water brand’s website may report the exact composition.


Think: FIJI, Simple Truth (artesian version), Springtime

It may sound fancy, but artesian is really just water that is pumped out of the ground. “It’s a fancy well water. They are trying to make it sound nicer than it is. It’s considered inferior to spring water,” says Callaway.


Think: Aquafina, Dasani, Kirkland Signature

This is simply tap water that has been filtered. “Purification removes nearly everything from the water, including contaminants and minerals. Reverse osmosis is one type of purification. Personally, I would say purified water and water from your fridge filter are on the same level,” Callaway says. Save the environment a few plastic bottles and just fill up your refillable water bottle.


Think: Essentia, Jove, Glacéau smartwater (alkaline version)

Alkaline refers to the pH of the water. Most waters are close to a neutral pH and alkaline waters—that can occur naturally or are manufactured— have more base, or a higher pH. Some brands tout the health and skin benefits of this. Studies confirm the benefits of an alkaline diet rich in fruits and vegetables, but none of those findings relate specifically to alkaline water. “I’m not aware of any medical, peer-reviewed science that supports that. The reality is as soon as water gets into your stomach, the acids in your stomach and the hamburger you just ate will alter its pH,” Callaway says.


Consumer Reports released results from a large study that tested bottled and canned waters for four heavy metals and PFAS, a group of highly toxic “forever” chemicals that have ended up in water sources. See how your favorite brand stacks up here:

Plus, the Environmental Working Group analyzed more than 31 million state water records for pollutants. To see what’s up with the tap water in your neighborhood, enter your ZIP code here:

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