Boiled Water vs. Bottled Water vs. UV Filtered Water: Which is Better?
Comparing Filtration Methods
Late last year, when the city of Austin flooded, a boil-water alert went into effect for a period of roughly two weeks. Water had flooded the municipal water system, bringing sediment and silt along with it. The city couldn’t filter the water faster than the water came in. When that happened, the city issued a district-wide alert to all citizens: boil your water to disinfect from potential bacteria, like giardia and cryptosporidium or risk exposure to contaminants.
Bottled water flew off the shelves in record numbers, and boiled water quickly became a commodity.
Boiling water has long been acknowledged as the best way to ensure your water is contaminant-free and safe for drinking, especially during a boil-water alert. However, there is also a third option: ultraviolet (UV) filtration. So how does boiled water rate against filtered water or even bottled water?
Analyzing Boiled Water
Disinfecting your water by boiling it is pretty easy and self-explanatory as a process. But while it might seem rudimentary, this technique kills many of the microorganisms that cause illness like giardia and cryptosporidium. The latter is resistant to disinfection and so it is absolutely necessary to kill it via boiling (although it is possible to reduce with UV filtration as well).
While boiling water may purify water by removing bacteria, there are disadvantages to the technique.
- Water has to be boiled for at least one minute to be effective
- Boiling does not guarantee all bacteria are killed
- Boiling can only remove solids and bacteria. This common water purifying technique will not remove other contaminants.
- For some contaminants like lead, boiling actually serves to concentrate lead rather than boiling it off.
- Chlorine also cannot be removed via boiling water. This is because the boiling points for these substances are far higher than for boiling water.
Analyzing Bottled Water
As it stands currently, the FDA has different regulations for different classifications of bottled water, including Artesian Well Water, Mineral Water, Spring Water, and Well Water. Acceptable forms of treatment include distillation, reverse osmosis, absolute 1-micron filtration, and ozonation.
While the EPA has set an acceptable limit for lead in tap water at 15 parts per billion (ppb), the FDA does attempt to reinforce that standard for bottled water for which lead pipes aren’t used at 5 ppb.
However, while there are some regulations around water quality for the bottled water industry, oversight is notoriously slack; as it stands, for the most part, it is a self-policed industry.
According to a report from the New York Times, “bottled water manufacturers are not required to disclose as much information as municipal water utilities because of gaps in federal oversight authority…Furthermore, the FDA does not require bottled water companies to disclose to consumers where the water came from, how it has been treated or what contaminants it contains. In a survey of 188 brands of bottled water released yesterday, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group found only two providing such information about its product to consumers.”
By contrast, the home water treatment industry is very heavily regulated. Manufacturers must do extensive testing and reporting to prove their products effectiveness at providing quality water. For example, manufacturers are required to supply “Performance Data Sheets” demonstrating the products ability to remove certain contaminants, whereas bottled water companies are not required to do as much.
While there are some regulations around water quality for the bottled water industry, oversight is notoriously slack; as it stands, for the most part, it is a self-policed industry.
Analyzing UV Filtration
As we’ve previously discussed, the only in-home water filters effective at removing microorganisms are filtration systems equipped with a UV light plus a Microbial filter.
Here’s how UV filters work. Water is pumped into a chamber which houses a UV bulb. The UV rays produced are dialed into a frequency that attacks microbes. Piercing the cell walls, these rays damage contaminants, and their DNA so that they can’t reproduce. This renders dangerous contaminants, such as E.Coli and giardia completely harmless.
Like all technologies, however, not all filters and UV lights are created equal, so we recommend choosing a system that:
- Is certified to NSF standards P231 and 244 (meaning it has been tested and proven effective for the reduction of microbiological contaminants in boil-water advisories), and…
- Has been independently tested to kill or remove bacteria and viruses, such as the Aquasana Reverse Osmosis + Claryum filter or our whole house systems with the Sterilight UV Filter, which removes 99.99% of viruses, bacteria, and cysts (you can read more about how UV filtration works here).
Aquasana UV filters are far more effective at disinfecting water than the common water purifying technique of boiling water, and more trusted than bottled water from your grocery store. Not to mention, boiling all of your water is not very practical for most families. By installing a reliable Aquasana filter with a UV, you get added confidence that your drinking water is healthy and clean, without any additional effort by you.
UV Filtering your water will remove the vast majority of contaminants, improve the taste of your water and will also ensure that your home is protected whether a water boil warning has been issued or the weather is totally clear. That’s a peace of mind you can count on.
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