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1. Difference between drinking water and mineral water

Dear Mr. Samir

Drinking water is water which contains no suspended materials, is colourless and odourless, has no organic materials dissolved in it and has a limited quantity of dissolved inorganic salts as specified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) as detailed in the opening note by the IWP panel.

Mineral water correctly refers to natural water from mountain springs which contained naturally occuring inorganic salts (minerals) which was felt to be not only pure water but also very palatable. What is sold today as mineral water is nothing but ground water which conforms to the criteria of the BIS bottled and sold at a premium.

When some of the bottled water manufacturers claim that their water has added minerals, they are fooling the public. For instance, water supplied by the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board conforms to the drinking water standards and can be safely used for drinking and cooking after boiling and cooling. But people tend to assume that this water may be contaminated and would rather buy the so-called bottled water whose source we do not know.

One simple four-way test to find if any water is safe for drinking, the following procedure can be followed:
1. See if it is clear and not coloured
2. See if it is free from suspended materials
3. See if it has any odour. It should not have any odour.
4. Take a small sip and see if the tongue accepts it i.e. it is palatable.

This test can be applied in situation while travelling and one has to decide whether the water served by the eatery is safe to drink or not.
Incidentally, the scepticism about the piped water supply is also very much there in the U.S. also where also the bottled water industry is a billion dollar one.

Indukanth Ragade

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