Water (H2O) is a clear liquid that makes up 55-78% of the human body. It is important for humans to have 1-7 liters of safe drinking water a day in order to avoid dehydration. Most of this amount is contained in the food and drinks had throughout the day, rather than from pure water consumed. Pure water contains no calories or organic nutrients and is tasteless and odorless. Any water that has a taste receives it from natural dissolved minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, sodium or potassium, among others.

Water therapy through spas had been a custom among Europeans and American colonists in the 17th and 18th century. Natural spa water from springs was believed to have minerals that could treat many ailments, whether through bathing in it or actually drinking it. This inspired the beginning of bottled waters in 1621, when the UK began bottling water from a bottling plant in Malvern called the Holy Well. Monks regularly captured the water, thought to have healing powers, to help the elderly or ill of the town. The history of bottled water however, begins with the first commercial water distributed at Jackson’s Spa in Boston by 1767. Just like the townsfolk of Malvern, spa-goers believed the water had therapeutic properties. The industry took off with the help of new glass technology that made glass bottled water more affordable and practical. By 1856, Saratoga Springs in NY, one of the popular water sources at the time, produced 7 million water bottles per year.

There are many types of drinking water, including mineral water, artesian water, spring water, purified water and sparkling water. Mineral water comes from water springs or underground sources that specifically contain minerals such as salt or sulfur compounds. In order to be considered mineral water, the water must contain at least 250 ppm, or parts per million of total dissolved solids naturally present. This refers to a weight-to-weight ratio of ion to water, with ions including anything that is not pure H2O. Artesian water comes from an aquifer, or a layer of water-bearing underground rock, that is tapped into. Spring water is water that has risen from an aquifer and to the Earth’s surface. Purified drinking water, on the other hand, is water from any source that is “demineralized,” and goes through a process that includes distillation, a boiling process that removes unwanted components. Lastly, sparkling water is any kind of water that has had carbon dioxide added.

Types of water can be broken down into two categories: hard water and soft water. Hard water contains a fair amount of minerals, while soft water, such as rain, only contains sodium. The most common minerals found in hard water are sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and silica, which contribute to any “taste” the water may have. Although there isn’t an existing term to truly describe the taste of minerals, some have considered it a kind of saltiness or bitterness. Purified water is flatter, while soft spring water can sometimes be sweet. The demand for bottled water decreased for a while in the twentieth century when chlorine was added to public water to make it bacteria-free. Then, in 1977, French water brand Perrier expressed concerns about pollution and unhealthy tap water. With an office location in New York, Perrier’s marketing strategy contributed to the rise of the U.S. bottled water industry we know today. Perrier was eventually bought by Nestle, and competed alongside old brands such as Arrowhead, founded in 1909, as well as newer brands like Dasani and Aquafina.

The U.S. currently holds second place after China for having the largest bottled water market in the world, followed by Mexico. Soon, flavored water brands began to appear and offered both flavored still and carbonated waters. One popular brand was the Clearly Canadian Beverage Corporation by Donald Mason in Canada. Mason had originally distributed Jolt, a soda high in caffeine, but when the demand for healthier options rose, he decided to create a completely different product. Clearly Canadian, made with spring water and natural ingredients, became the “new age” beverage. After the Canadian company introduced its line, flavored waters by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Perrier hit the scene. Some popular flavored water flavors include lemon, lime, orange, kiwi, strawberry, cherry, peach and raspberry. One may wonder how flavored waters differ from soda or diet soda. Unlike sodas, flavored waters in general don’t contain caffeine and are usually much lower in calories because they either have much less sugar or don’t have any added sugars at all. Additionally, flavored waters often contain all-natural ingredients and some may even contain vitamins.

Not only is water itself coming in different forms, so is its packaging. When glass and plastic became an environmental concern, a drinking water company decided to start boxing their water. Unlike bottled water companies, Boxed Water Is Better of Grand Rapids, Michigan packs water into paperboard cartons in order to reduce the carbon footprint of both their factory and consumers. Available in 15 states as well as overseas, the company’s distribution sales have more than doubled in 2013. Since then, the recycling of plastic bottles have become an expected habit, and the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) has reported a significant recycling increase since 2013. The average American now consumes 35 gallons of bottled water a year, the equivalent of about 270 bottles. In addition, the Beverage Marketing Corporation expects it to be the the number one packaged drink sold in the U.S. by 2016. With 195 brands as of 2012, consumers have plenty of options to suit their needs, whether it’s a taste for minerals or some flavored sparking water. For those seeking the purest of waters, specialty brands that extract water from Hawaii or Canada seem to be popular choices. Hawaii’s pureness comes from rainwater naturally filtered through underground volcanic rock, while Canadian glaciers up to 10,000 years old provide a luxurious sort of purity. If you would like to check out boxed water or order bottled water online, you can do so at our Specialty Sodas website.