3 Types of Water: Mineral, Spring and Prepared Water

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Plain water is classified according to its characteristics on the basis of its origin, consistency, composition, protection and treatment. Nestlé Waters produces water in all three categories: natural mineral water, spring water and prepared water. What’s the difference between them?

types of drinking water

Packaged water sold to the public has to be officially authorised as being suitable for human consumption. The Codex Alimentarius – the internationally recognised set of food standards – distinguishes three categories: natural mineral water, spring water and prepared water. What do these terms actually mean?

Natural mineral water: pure and untouched

Natural mineral water comes from underground sources that are guaranteed to be protected from risks of pollution. They are characterised by their mineral salt content – each type of mineral water has them in specific proportions.

The conditions under which the water is collected guarantee its microbiological purity and chemical composition. It has to be packaged close to the point of emergence of the source and it is forbidden to subject it to any form of treatment, other than carbonation and the removal of certain minerals, such as iron and manganese. Natural mineral waters are allowed to claim medicinal properties.

Natural mineral waters account for a significant share of our local brands in emerging markets.

Spring water: defined by its origin

Spring water comes from a specified source, usually underground but occasionally on the surface, and has not passed through any type of community water system.

To avoid any kind of pollution or contamination, it is subject to protection within a set of vulnerability perimeters. It is certified to be consistently fit for human consumption at the source and is kept in that state until bottling occurs. Except for a small number of authorised processes, it cannot receive any modification or treatment.

Spring water constitutes the leading product type for our local brands in the United States, as well as the majority of our local brands in other markets outside Europe.

Prepared water: ensuring that drinking water is safe

Prepared water can originate from any type of water supply, including municipal water supply systems. It can be treated in any way that modifies the original water to comply with chemical, microbiological and radiological safety requirements stipulated for pre-packaged water.

In many emerging countries, the concept of water purity is synonymous with safety. In these countries, prepared water is the standard form of water for human consumption. According to local legislation, it is identified on the label as “purified water” or “drinking water”.