Back when Hurricane Irene struck the East Coast, one new mom faced a decision: what kind of bottled water to buy after the nearby water purification plant was flooded? Wanting to keep her newborn healthy, Chanie Kirschner reviewed the EPA's website to get the lowdown on water, she writes at Mother Nature's Network. What she learned:
- Drinking water: It's from a municipal source, it's safe, and it has no added ingredients beyond what you need (like fluoride).
- Distilled water: A filtration process has removed both contaminants and natural minerals from purified water. It's best for hand-held appliances like steam irons, which won't build up minerals. But the lack of healthy minerals is a negative if you want drinking water.
- Purified water: It's been stripped of chemicals and contaminants, but like distilled water, that comes with pluses and minuses.
- Spring water: Despite the label, it may be more "glorified tap water" than natural aqua from "a tall snow-capped mountain," writes Kirschner. Some studies found it can even contain contaminants like arsenic and coliform.
So Kirschner ultimately picked drinking water, because that's what it's meant for: drinking. But in case that solution makes you nervous, you can confirm the quality of your local tap water at the EPA's website. Or you can look up the quality of your preferred bottled water at the Environmental Working Group's site. (Read more drinking water stories.)