Here’s why your bottled water might contain strange ingredients

Hiker drinking bottled water in desert

Have you read the ingredients list on your bottled water lately?

If not, you might be surprised to see things like sodium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, magnesium sulfate, and other compounds.

No reason to worry, though.

Salts and minerals like these typically present in trace amounts in your water and are very safe.

“If you had pure water by itself, it doesn’t have any taste,” agricultural scientist Bob Mahler told Time in 2014. “So companies that sell bottled water will put in calcium, magnesium, or maybe a little bit of salt.”

There’s also this: Salts and minerals, like those found in water, are necessary to help you sweat and perform other vital bodily functions.

The water you drink, whether bottled or tap, is never just all water molecules made of hydrogen and oxygen — no matter how pure the label claims it is. It has impurities in it.

And water that is chemically pure isn’t something you’d necessarily want to drink.

Water purified to that point — distilled water — is naturally and slightly acidic, giving it a tendency to dissolve and leech away salts, minerals, and other chemicals. So if you drink some, it will pull nutrients out of your body’s cells.

If you just gulped a glass of ultra-pure water, though, don’t panic: It won’t hurt you as long as you don’t consume it regularly.

Fervent drinking of distilled water can cause you to overhydrate and overheat, since having less salt in your body makes it much harder to sweat. Athletes and other highly active people should be especially wary of drinking a lot of distilled water; it can lead to a potentially deadly electrolyte imbalance.

The one additive you should really be watching out for in your water is sugar, which only adds calories to your otherwise totally healthy and refreshing beverage.

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