Should You Drink Pure Water?

There's been a lot of buzz lately about the safety of drinking water. Flint, Michigan, made national headlines when lead was found in their water, and recently, residents of a Texas town were left "high and dry" when black water came pouring out of their faucets. People are now realizing the importance of treating their water. But many are swinging to the other extreme and demanding pure water—H2O and nothing else. Is that really a safe alternative, though? Here's what you need to know about pure water and whether it's a realistic solution.

What is Pure Water?

Pure water is really nothing more than water—H2O in its purest form. A lot of people assume that since there are no toxins, chemicals, poisons, parasites, additives, or electrolytes, that it's the best way to obtain what your body needs. After all, the word "pure" is generally associated with being clean, whole, and simply the best. But is that really true, or are Americans making a sweeping generalization about the benefits of pure water?

Is It Safe?

Most everyone knows the importance of getting adequate water every day. But the truth is, your body needs the right kind of water. That means water free from chemicals, parasites, and other toxins that can be dangerous both now and in the long run.

So what's the problem with pure water, then?

Well, pure water doesn't contain things that your body does need, like ions and electrolytes. These are substances like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium that your body needs to perform simple functions; functions like your heart beating, muscles flexing, maintaining blood pressure, healing wounds, and generally transmitting electrical impulses along your nerves.

You may think that you can get these things from food sources or vitamins. And while you can, pure water still poses some risks, and here's why. Because your body is constantly trying to maintain the right balance of electrolytes, pure water can actually draw electrolytes out of your cells while simultaneously pushing water in.

What's a Good Alternative?

If pure water isn't safe long-term, but you still want to drink water that's safe, what's a good alternative? There are a couple of ways you can go about treating your water to remove the things you don't need while leaving in the ingredients you do.

Filtration systems use a filter to remove harmful bacteria, excess minerals that lead to hard water, and contaminants such as heavy metals and chlorine added by the water treatment plant. These systems can be either point-of-entry (placed near a water tank or meter, treating all the water that comes into the house) or point-of-use (installed at the sink or shower).

Ultraviolet technology can also be used. UV rays can kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses present in drinking water. The only drawback to this option is that it does nothing to remove chlorine or other contaminants. Therefore, it's often used hand-in-hand with another method of water treatment, like reverse osmosis. UV systems can be point-of-use or point-of-entry.

Reverse osmosis systems use a semi-permeable membrane to remove pollutants, chemicals, pesticides, fluoride, bacteria, arsenic, and chlorine. Again, they can either be installed at the sink or outside the home as a point-of-entry water treatment system. The main drawback of reverse osmosis is that some of the water that runs through the system gets wasted as it's treated. But this is generally negligible, amounting to the equivalent of about three extra toilet flushes per day.

None of the above methods produce 100% pure drinking water, but they do remove a majority of the things your body doesn't need, as well as harmful substances. To determine which option is best for you, speak with a water treatment specialist at a company like Waterman911 in your area.