“Raw” Drinking Water: The Good and The (mostly) Bad

by Alexander Muhr

A few weeks ago the New York Times published the following article: Unfiltered Fervor: The Rush to Get Off the Water Grid

Here at Hallstein, we’ve received a lot of questions on our opinion.

While the trend towards “raw” or truly natural products in the food and beverage world is generally a good one – without getting into a deeper discussion on GMOs – the article highlights a few dangerous ways this trend has manifested itself, to the increased potential for harm of the consumer.

He said “real water” should expire after a few months. His does. “It stays most fresh within one lunar cycle of delivery,” he said. “If it sits around too long, it’ll turn green. People don’t even realize that because all their water’s dead, so they never see it turn green.”

If filled properly, and devoid of any harmful or potentially harmful bacteria, a water most certainly should not “expire” or “turn green” – ever! Just like the farmers have a responsibility to ensure that the food they deliver from farm-to-table is absent of bacteria like E.coli or fertilizers harmful for consumption, so should any company that purports to sell “raw water”, have the responsibility of testing their water to minimum standards of purity.

Hallstein achieves standards of superior quality without any filtering or treatment. We test to make sure of this after each and every filling. We exceed testing requirements set by any of our applicable regulators. That's actually not saying much because those standards are incredibly lenient.

What people fail to understand is the extreme rarity in finding a drinking water that can be filled without any sort of filtration or treatment and not have an expiration date. Our database of bottled drinking water brands exceeds 2,500 (still-water only) and we have not found one that is in any way unfiltered or untreated, and meets any core standards for superior quality.

What are the main factors in being able to judge a drinking water’s quality? At a bare minimum:

  • High natural pH [8-9.5], while extremely low in sodium aka. natrium [< 1 mg/l] - some brands have figured out that an easy way to boost pH is by adding sodium or other minerals aka. electrolytes; for instance, this helps to neutralize the enzyme pepsin 3-B that is a major cause of acid reflux
  • High in naturally dissolved oxygen [> 10 mg/l] while low in Total Organic Carbon [< 0.15 mg/l]; for instance, this helps improve recovery time after exercise

Can someone tell us where to find another source that does not require a producer to do anything in order to achieve only those requirements?

Drinking an optimal water is there to help in avoiding excessive amounts of sugar or other detrimental, potentially toxic elements, that serve to increase inflammation in the body. But that's a topic for another post.

Bottom line: More and more people are following the trend of “back to nature” as Rousseau described it in the romantic age, but today through immense environmental pollution this isn’t consistently possible without heavy filtration, treatment techniques, or most often a combination of both.

Please be skeptical when you hear about “raw water” – the likelihood that you’re drinking something harmful to your health is extremely high.

P.S. Here's a brief counter article to the NYT from the Washington Post: ‘Raw water’ is the latest health craze. Here’s why drinking it may be a bad idea. and Vox: What to know about the “raw water” trend

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