What does the best water in the world taste like?
This is an excerpt of "WHAT I LEARNED THIS WEEK" from July 20th 2017, written by the prominent research firm 13D, and is posted here with permission from the author. ©2017 13D Research All rights reserved. For information about 13D Research, please visit: https://www.13d.com/
It is almost impossible to adequately describe until you have experienced it. “Pure”, “flawless”, “primordial” and “Ponce de Leon” come to mind. Our children’s 96-year old godfather calls it his “heavenly elixir”. The water comes from a deep artesian well in the Austrian Alps—and it is the product of an extraordinary family’s 16-year quest to find and make available the ultimate drinking water.
We first met the Muhr family almost four years ago and we instantly clicked. Like us, they were deeply devoted to understanding health and pursuing longevity. They too were students of Kurzweil’s Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever (see WILTW February 2, 2006) and they were familiar with many of the rather exotic treatments we were pursuing—far-infrared saunas, sheep cell injections, even ozone therapy. But we soon learned that for all we thought we knew about water—our Japanese alkaline water machine, our French hexagonal vortex water device—the Muhrs were light years ahead of us.
Back in the late 1990s, they launched a collective quest to learn about water. The three children—then in their early teens—were still drinking sodas, Gatorade and juice. Their father challenged them to not only learn about why drinking water was vital to good health, but to answer the question: “What is good water?” A family odyssey began. Together, they compiled a list of parameters—high pH, low sodium, high level of dissolved oxygen, low total organic carbon (TOC), balance of minerals (TDS), source temperature, and so on. If the father found an article on a specific water attribute, it would become part of the family conversation.
One of the chapters in Kurzweil/Grossman’s Fantastic Voyage is devoted to food and water. Food is 80% water. Our food, like our water, should counteract the body’s acidity. (Disease thrives in an acidic environment—think sugar, caffeine, fried food, etc.) While Kurzweil advocated moving towards an artificially-high pH water, like our Japanese alkaline machine, the Muhrs were interested in finding a natural source of water that is inherently alkaline. A family deeply devoted to great wines, the Muhrs believed that great water, like great wine, could not be engineered in a bottling plant or lab. There are multiple factors at work that determine a great vintage—the soil, the level of rainfall, how the sun hit the grapes, etc. (Think of Maya’s wine speech from the 2004 film, Sideways.) The same must be true of water.
To this end, the family began to systematically test hundreds of different waters. Most waters, as is now well known, are simply expensively-bottled municipal tap waters (See our 2007 series, “The Coming Backlash against Bottled Water”.) The Muhrs also collected EPA data on U.S. tap water. All together, the family tested over 300 different waters and collected data on over 1,000 more. (The family’s database of water is likely the largest in the world. A team of researchers in India are continually updating and revising the data sets.)
Their conclusion: nothing on the market was even remotely close to being “good”. One of our old favorites, the sleek glass-bottled VOSS, was among the worst offenders, with a pH of 5.2. While Fiji is better, like many of the other waters available to the U.S. consumer, it was being filtered by UV light to kill bacteria. So, not only was it shipped and stored in plastic, the UV light was altering its molecular structure.
Armed with a list of essential criteria for “good” water, the Muhrs started contracting with teams of geologists and hydro-geologists to scout locations around the globe that had the necessary geological attributes to produce this water. They were looking for places that had a unique combination of very pure limestone (low in minerals so no other residues), as well as locations that were home to multiple sheets of ice during the Ice Age that produced glacial moraines over time, which are essential for the formation and protection of aquifers. The steepness of the terrain is also critical. There is groundwater almost everywhere, but the water coming from an area of a certain topological grade pushes away water of a lesser quality and prevents it from reaching the surface. The geologists found just a handful of places on the planet that met all of these requirements. One turned out to be in the Dachstein Glacier Mountain region of Austria—the family’s homeland.
After receiving appropriate permitting, the family hired a team to begin drilling. At 160 meters, the hydrologists called to say they had not hit anything yet. Like a confident wildcatter, Mr. Muhr encouraged them to keep going. At 200 meters water started gushing, but it was not yet a geyser. At 215 meters, they struck gold. Hallstein water was born. The year was 2005.
Two years of testing quality and sustainability began by the top institutes in Switzerland, Austria and the U.S. Flow was consistent—3.5 liters per second, and it required no intervention. The Muhrs were only interested in water that was produced by its own pressure, naturally artesian. The water was consistently cold, within .5 degrees of 5.5 degrees C (41 degrees F) year round. The water possessed the essential combination of low sodium (0.15 mg/l) and a high pH (8.3).
Isotopic studies were also performed to determine how long it took a raindrop to pass through the floor of the rock formation (9 hours) to make its way through the aquifer (about 9 years). Perhaps most critically, the water was naturally high in dissolved oxygen (10+ mg/l), yet low in both nitrates and total organic carbon (under 0.10 mg/l). Since organic carbon feeds bacteria, Hallstein’s low-level means the water does not require any filtration or UV radiation—processes that would compromise its naturally-superior molecular structure.
Finally, Hallstein water had a moderate TDS (total dissolved solids) level. Water that is too low in TDS will leach minerals from your body. (One of the key reasons that drinking distilled water is not good for you). But, water that is too high in TDS, like many bottled waters and all carbonated water, adds a lot of waste to the body. The Muhrs had found water with an optimal balance of minerals. And perhaps most importantly, the family had found water that was inherently stable. A decade of testing has shown that the water, thanks in large part to its low organic carbon levels, retains its unique (hexagonal and pentagonal) chemical structure indefinitely.
We have been drinking Hallstein water religiously for close to two years. It is shipped to us direct from Austria in 5 gallon Tritan bottles. Tritan is not only BPA-free, it is one of the “good’ plastics in the recycling universe. Unlike other water services that re-use their 5 gallon bottles up to 80 times and wash them periodically with hydrogen peroxide, Hallstein bottles are used only once. (The family is still exploring how to fully close the environmental loop with either a compostable bottle or an alternative use for the empty Tritan bottles.)
Hallstein has become an essential part of our on-going commitment to optimum wellbeing. As we all remember from biology class, up to 65% of the adult human body is water. Our brains and hearts are closer to 75% and our lungs, 80%. Water is life. In our increasingly toxic world, access to water designed by nature to chemically support the human body is a remarkable gift—courtesy of a uniquely curious and committed family.