What is spring water? The answer seems so simple.

What is spring water? The answer seems so simple. It’s water … from a spring. Right? If only it were that easy.

The bottled-water world can feel endless and confusing: glass water bottles, aluminum, plastic; distilled water, purified water, artesian water, mineral water, spring water — what does it all mean?

People seek out actual, natural spring water for a reason: It tastes better.

The best spring water, such as that sourced by Mountain Valley from deep within Arkansas’s Ouachita Mountains, is naturally filtered and naturally rich with minerals. 

But all bottled waters aren’t created equally. Far from it. Simply because water is bottled doesn’t mean it’s from a natural spring. And just because a bottle of water says “naturally sourced” doesn’t ensure it’s spring water either.

As to the question: What is spring water? Here’s what the Food & Drug Administration has to say.

If all bottled water isn’t spring water, what is it?

The FDA describes bottled water as “water that’s intended for human consumption and sealed in bottles or other containers with no added ingredients.”

The agency allows water from municipal sources, better known as tap water, to be bottled. Bottled tap water is usually treated. These treatments, per the FDA, may include:

  • Distillation: Water is turned into vapor, removing trace minerals. The vapor is then condensed back to water. 
  • Reverse osmosis: Water is forced through membranes to remove minerals.
  • Absolute 1 micron filtration: Water flows through filters that remove particles larger than 1 micron — .00004 inches — in size. 
  • Ozonation: Bottlers of all types of waters typically use ozone gas, an antimicrobial agent, instead of chlorine to disinfect their water, as chlorine can add residual taste and odor. 

The FDA classifies bottled waters by their origins, including:

  • Artesian well water: While artesian water is a type of spring water, this specific style of spring water is collected from a well that taps into an aquifer. What’s an aquifer? Another good question. An aquifer is like an underground water-storage system made of layers of porous rock and sand that work like a sponge to trap and hold water. The sections of earth above an aquifer create pressure against it. When an aquifer is tapped, this pressure, known as artesian pressure, pushes that water upwards, sometimes all the way to the surface, creating a flowing well. 

  • Mineral water: This type of water comes from a protected underground source. Mineral water may be tapped via a borehole or it may flow naturally to the surface. According to the FDA, mineral water contains at least 250 parts per million of “total dissolved solids.” These often include calcium, magnesium and potassium, among others. The FDA says these minerals and trace elements must come from the water’s source and cannot be added to the water after the fact.

  • Well water: The FDA defines well water as water from a hole bored or drilled into the ground which taps into an aquifer.

And, most importantly, there’s spring water ...

  • Spring water: “Derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface, this water must be collected only at the spring or through a borehole that taps the underground formation feeding the spring. If some external force is used to collect the water through a borehole, the water must have the same composition and quality as the water that naturally flows to the surface.”

The best spring water comes from naturally-rising springs.

As the folks at Fine Water Academy, which certifies “water sommeliers” through hours of courses and training, write: “Using a spring’s natural orifice … is preferable. When the water’s own pressure brings it to the surface, that pressure can prevent contaminants in ground and surface water from mixing with the spring water.”

This is a belief shared by Mountain Valley Spring Water.

As the first bottled water to be delivered coast to coast across the U.S., purity of source and of water are of utmost importance to Mountain Valley. The company, founded way back in 1871, bottles its waters from a protected and naturally flowing spring near Hot Springs, Arkansas, an area that’s been renowned for its natural spring water for centuries.

Mountain Valley’s definition of spring water isn’t nearly as loose as others. Mountain Valley believes the best spring water is collected without boreholes or drilling, and that spring water should be gathered where it naturally flows. Mountain Valley believes in using sustainable methods that ensure a spring’s natural longevity will be preserved, and that ensure the water born from that spring is as pure, refreshing and delicious as nature intended.

For the best spring water, source matters.

Mountain Valley’s spring water started the journey to these classic green-glass bottles and clear-glass jugs, which customers can have delivered directly to their kitchen counters, some 3,500 years ago when it first fell from the clouds as rain.

Over millennia, that rain collected in aquifers 1,600 feet below Arkansas’s Ouachita Mountains, filtering through striations of shale, sandstone and limestone until it reached these deep, granite-based natural holding tanks. As the aquifers filled, excess water would be pushed back to the surface, up through beds of Ordovician marble lined with veins of quartz.

This journey, down into the aquifer then back up through layers of marble and quartz crystals, is what gives Mountain Valley Spring Water its unique mineral content of calcium, magnesium and potassium as well as its pure, refreshing and award-winning flavor.

Mountain Valley prizes the seclusion and protections that are in place to preserve its natural spring water source. Its spring is surrounded by 2,000 acres of protected national forest where wildlife roam and flora abound. Mountain Valley welcomes guests to learn more about our source and history at the Mountain Valley Visitor Center in Hot Springs’s Central Avenue Historic District, a spot protected and recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. 

For the best spring water, it’s great to be balanced.

Pure of origin and purely sourced, the best spring water, including that from Mountain Valley, will have a naturally-balanced alkalinity.

On the pH scale, which goes from 1 to 14, 7 is neutral. Anything above 7 is basic, aka alkaline, while everything that falls below 7 is acidic. Mountain Valley Spring Water bottles at 7.3 - 7.8 pH, which is naturally-balanced.

Mountain Valley Spring Water’s balanced pH is imparted as the water moves from the aquifer up to ground level. As the spring water passes over limestone, it naturally absorbs calcium carbonate, a mineral found in sea shells, snail shells, egg shells and pearls. The calcium carbonate dissolves in the water, naturally raising its pH.

While the majority of bottled waters measure at least one point below neutral on the pH scale, Mountain Valley Spring Water has a natural balance of alkalinity that makes this spring water the best.

The very best spring water can be delivered right to your door.

Since Mountain Valley’s inception in 1871, the company has known just how wonderful its natural spring water tastes. It’s also known that folks across the country would want access to it. Mountain Valley became the first water company to deliver natural spring water from east to west across the United States of America.

In the 150 years since its start, Mountain Valley has also become the country’s most award-winning water. Mountain Valley’s spring and sparkling waters have won 18 honors from the tasters at the annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting in West Virginia. From Best Bottled Spring Water to Best Flavored Essence Sparkling, Mountain Valley’s range of products are regularly ranked among the best not only in the country, but also the world.

In fact, Mountain Valley’s waters have been voted Best in the World a whopping four times, including two wins for Best in the World Spring Water.

Berkeley Springs’ judges rate the competition’s waters on everything from appearance, to aroma, to taste, mouthfeel and aftertaste. Their expert tastebuds draw water entries from as far away as Bosnia, Australia, Tasmania and Japan. And yet, for several years, the nearby all-American water from Mountain Valley has topped this diverse and international field.

To tap into this purely sourced, award-winning, natural spring water, a spring water that definitively answers the question What is spring water?, one needn’t trek to the Ouachita Mountains. One needn’t even leave their couch.

As it has for more than a century, Mountain Valley will deliver its natural spring water directly to your home or office. Enter your zip code on our Home Delivery page to find a Mountain Valley local distributor near you.

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