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You Might Think Raw Water is Safe, but You’re Wrong

Posted in Outbreaks & Recalls,Water on September 7, 2018

I’m all for water collection from the source, as long as its filtered and purified. That means I’m not adverse to the idea of “raw water.” Here’s the thing, raw very rarely means safe. So, the raw water health trend produced a long, dramatic, shame-projecting, eye roll from me.

Yes, I’ve been camping enough times to know water from the source is super beneficial, but that comes with a few rules. Prior to chugging mountain or spring water, I’ll always take the purified bottled water first. If that’s not an option, I’ll follow the steps to do it myself. That’s because there are more than a few risks with undertreated water, and it’s important to weigh those risks with the benefits.

Raw does not mean clean. In fact, its oftentimes the opposite. I’m not saying everything raw is a problem, but I am saying the majority of raw items boast red flags. That’s why, you have to take precautions and you should expect food handlers to do the same. Raw needs to coincide with cleanly… And that is why I have a problem with the “raw water” craze.

“Raw” Water has festering problems.

Raw water can be the melting pot of pathogens and parasites. So, when I hear about a brand of raw water dubbing themselves as Life Water, you can find me screaming in response. Take this statement from Life Water for instance:

“Blasting water with ozone changes its molecular structure. Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation uses synthetic ultraviolet light, different from our natural environment UV, to kill or inactivate micro-organisms by destroying nucleic acids and disrupting their DNA. A difficult fact to swallow, but your drinking water might be considered a genetically modified organism. GMO seeds and GMO water don’t have the capacity to reproduce life. Perhaps this could influence human’s capacities also.”

Umm.. no.

If we are going to start taking shots at Ozone water treatment with natural process as a focus, we need to look at exactly what we are fighting. Life Water has pegged the wrong enemy. Ozone is the best buddy to water safety. When a water treatment is required, Ozone does the job. Okay, yes, filtration may need to coincide with Ozone treatment for certain man-made chemicals, but Ozone has some awesome fighting skills, and filtering is never a bad thing. If natural is what matters to you, Ozone is the good-guy who does the job and quietly packs up at the end of the day. What do I mean by that? Ozone has a short-life in water and in an exothermic reaction reverts to O2.  Ozone water treatment is not the new kid on the block. We’ve been applying the Ozone process for more than 100 years. Technology grows, and with it our skills in producing and stabilizing ozone at ground level. Good job, Ozone.

Now that we know a little bit more about the ozone process, let’s focus on this portion of a statement from life water, “…changes its molecular structure.”

No, Lifewater. That’s not what happens. For the sake of this argument, we’ll play pretend and say it is true. So, what does that mean? Not much. We change the molecular structure of water regularly. In fact, we do it so often we don’t even think about it. We do it for an extra perk in our soft drinks, slushies, lemonade, and countless other reasons. How? We make ice. Freezing water is changing the molecular structure of water, and ice is a natural process. Changing the molecular structure is not a scary thing, so don’t let it frazzle you.

My last qualm with “raw water” is the potential for human error. The most dangerous thing about this growing trend is how it’s enticing the public to collect their own raw water without offering education and training first. It’s a beautiful thing to see others out in the world getting their hands wet and working for what they want, but most people don’t have the experience to deem what water is safe.

A source of water may have been tested for pathogens in the past, but that needs to happen often. The water you drank from one day isn’t necessarily safe the next. That’s nature for you. Here’s some math to look at:

1 migratory pattern + upstream + wildlife feces = Contamination.

So, if you’re determined to drink raw water, it might be a good idea to take a knowledgeable eye with you on your adventure. Not everyone has an outdoor educated buddy who will take the trip, and that’s too bad. What I can tell you is most outdoor enthusiasts will say, if the risk is not worth the reward, skip it.

And, what’s so bad about economic advancements in water?

Science has excelled in the process of bringing water to us. It’s because of these technologies we aren’t a nomadic species. That change alone has given time. With time we’ve been able to focus on so much more. Adventure is wonderful, but for a society to thrive, access to clean water is imperative. I tip my hat at you, science, for bringing us kitchen taps, progressive filtration systems, and advanced water purifiers.

Before I end my “raw water” rant, I want to touch on the importance of safe storage. Many of these raw water brands boast moderately safe methods of storage, but we can’t expect the public to have the access to do the same. For those of you determined to try it anyway, remember filling up that bottle of water and tossing it in your closet is not going to keep you healthy no matter how clean the water is at the time of collection.

Here’s another math problem for you:

Warm + Wet = A bacteria threshold.

When it comes to water storage, always think clean and sealed.

I’ll advocate with raw water enthusiasts to go out there and learn how to forage. Just, please, learn the rules to make your water safe.

  • Bottled first
  • Consider the source and the possible contaminants
  • Boil
  • Filter
  • Disinfect
  • Store Safely

Think before you drink.

By: Heaven Bassett, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)