What is raw water and should we be drinking it?

Are you confused by raw water? You’re not alone. We explain.

Press Association
Last updated: 9 April 2018 - 11.11am

If you’re thinking ‘raw’ water must mean really cold water, or the water from the bathroom tap that tastes way more minerally than the H2O that shoots out of the kitchen one, you’d be wrong on both counts.

[Read more: Is vinegar the next superfood?]

Raw water, it turns out, is the latest health/drink fad causing a stir, and it doesn’t come from a faucet.

What is raw water?

It’s water that hasn’t been filtered, treated or sterilised at all, which, according some people in LA and San Francisco where the trend spawned, means it’s chock-full of minerals, algae and, allegedly, probiotic bacteria.

It’s basically the kind of water you’d get from a fresh spring or a stream, except the price tag is much, much heftier. So hefty in fact, raw water is being sold by companies like Live Water for up to $60 (£44) for 2.5 gallons in some stores or $16 online if you buy four times the amount.

Why is it becoming popular?

Some are convinced of its apparent superior taste, mouth-feel and health-giving properties – and see it as a positive alternative to ingesting fluoride through tap water.

Mukhande Singh, founder of Live Water, also argues that stripping out the ‘bad’ stuff from water when treating it, leaves you short on nutrients and minerals too. He told the New York Times that ‘real water’ should also expire after a few months. “It stays most fresh within one lunar cycle of delivery,” he said of his own Live Water. “If it sits around too long, it’ll turn green. People don’t even realise that because all their water’s dead, so they never see it turn green.”

There are warnings that it’s not as healthy as it sounds

The thing is, water is generally treated for a reason, right? To strip out harmful chemicals, microbes, parasites, bacteria and germs. Cholera, Hep A, giardia and E.coli can all be transmitted via untreated water, and according to the World Health Organisation, more than half a million diarrhoeal deaths are caused each year due to people drinking from contaminated water sources.

Whether you’re intrigued or irritated by the so-called ‘water consciousness movement’, it’s not yet made it’s way to the UK – unless you count those times you’ve got a mouthful of water swimming outdoors.

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