What Is Mineral Water?

Buying, Cooking, and Recipes

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Water may all look the same, but mineral water possesses its own nuances thanks to the minerals that are naturally present in it. Some claim this water helps boost the minerals in your own body and by drinking it you'll be healthier. Each one tastes a little different, so it may be worth incorporating mineral water into your drinking habits.

What Is Mineral Water?

By definition, mineral water is sourced from springs known for their various minerals, such as salts and sulfur compounds. Mineral water may be still (no bubbles) or sparkling (aka carbonated or effervescent). By definition and FDA regulations, mineral water must contain no less than 250 parts per million of "total dissolved solids" that come from a protected underground water source. Mineral water comes from deep within the earth.

Sounds refreshing, right? Turns out it's so much more. Mineral water can contain levels of sodium, magnesium, zinc, and calcium, plus other good-for-you minerals, all of which must occur naturally. In this regard, you really can taste the land you're drinking from. It also makes sense why some mineral waters get prized above others, so much so they are shipped around the world for consumption.

How to Use Mineral Water

The best thing to do with mineral water is to just drink it. It's a fun way to taste a place you're visiting while also keeping your body hydrated. Some chefs also tout mineral water as the best liquid to use when simmering stock, poaching eggs or fish, creating a soup, making bread, or any other water-forward cooking method where one may taste the subtle mineral nuances. A similar school of thought is found in some bars where mixologists play with different mineral waters in their ice cubes.

Does it make a huge difference? Maybe, but you would have to train your palate to pick up these refinements. It certainly can't hurt to experiment a little with different mineral waters in foods and drinks. Perhaps you'll find a new recipe that just sings with Rocky Mountain minerals or makes that stew taste even more like home.

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What Does Mineral Water Taste Like?

The same way wine and cheese boast having a terroir, mineral water can possess the flavor of the land. In areas rich with limestone like Kentucky, you might notice it tastes clear and crisp with a bit of salinity (which is also the supposed reason bourbon from the area remains so popular). If you're drinking mineral water from areas with halite, expect a sharper salty note; and places with a lot of iron in the rocks may have a more metallic tasting water. Overall, mineral water tastes like water, and the mineral nuances usually prove subtle. Though, if you have a sensitivity to certain flavors, such as sulfur, you may want to skip the water from beach regions where the mineral is found.

Where To Buy Mineral Water

Many grocery stores will have several mineral water options to choose from. Read the label and decide what exactly you want, as many are imported, although depending on your location, some may be locally sourced. You can also have water delivered to your house as part of a delivery service.

Storage

Keep mineral water in a bottle, glass jar, travel mug, or anything that can safely hold liquid. It won't go bad, and you don't need to keep it cold. The minerals will still be there just as long as you don't boil the water or distill it.

Nutrition and Benefits

Depending on what minerals the water has in it dictates how healthy the drink is for you. None of it is bad, but say you want some more calcium or magnesium in your body you should seek out Gerolsteiner or San Pellegrino. Perrier, on the other hand, has a good amount of bicarbonate in it. Not that mineral water should ever replace food in a diet, but it can boost your nutrient intake.

Mineral Water vs. Distilled Water

When using a humidifier or steam iron, you may have noticed the device calls for distilled water to be used. This is mineral water stripped of all the minerals, which is useful for running machines where minerals might affect metals and gears, but it's flat and flavorless and not so great for drinking. Mineral water tastes like something, and usually, it's something good thanks to the minerals in its surrounding soil and landscape.

Varieties

Just about any place with a good water source will have mineral water available. Popular brands include Fiji, San Pellegrino, Evian, Voss, and more. There are hundreds of mineral waters from all over the world gracing the grocery store shelves, and some restaurants even specialize in water varieties. Keep in mind tap water also can have minerals, so don't discount it during your quest to boost nutrients.

Myths

Mineral water isn't necessarily healthier than tap water. A lot of minerals and nutrients come from the water we get out of our sink. If you want to know what's in your own tap water, get it tested, and compare the levels of magnesium and calcium to the water you're buying at the store. It may surprise you, especially if your water comes from an underground well.