Typology of water
Types of drinking water
A variety of particular product types are distinguishable in the world of water, and in Switzerland they are governed by law. There are therefore clear definitions for mineral water, spring water and drinking water. Learn more about them and the various types of water here in this section.
Natural mineral water
Strict statutory requirements for untreated, natural mineral water guarantee that the product arrives on the consumers’ table in a consistently high quality. Natural mineral is characterised by its particular geological origins, the type and quantity of mineral components, its pristine purity, and by its consistent composition and temperature. It must never be treated or contain any additives.
Natural mineral water must be bottled in the direct proximity of the spring or taken in pipes to the bottling station. On no accounts may it be transported in tankers or similar. Meticulous procedures are applied to obtain it from one or several natural sources or by man-made tapping of subterranean reservoirs. It is microbiologically perfect by nature.
The mineral content of each litre of water must be declared on the packaging and product label. Mineral waters are assigned to three different categories, depending on the quantity of minerals they contain:
- Natural mineral water with very low mineral salt contents equivalent to 50 milligrammes of solid residue in each litre.
- Natural mineral water with low mineral salt contents equivalent to 500 milligrammes of solid residue in each litre. Valser Silence is an example of a natural mineral water with low mineral content.
- Natural mineral water with high mineral salt contents equivalent to 1,500 milligrammes of solid residue in each litre. Valser Classic and Valser Naturelle belong in this category.
Mineral water is a natural product. As such, it must neither be altered nor treated. Swiss and international law permit treatment in only a few exceptional cases. For example:
- Carbon dioxide: It is permitted to extract or reduce carbon dioxide naturally present in a mineral water. This may take the form of carbon dioxide from the spring or from other sources. The carbon dioxide added to Valser Classic comes from other sources – but the amount is quite modest compared to many other Swiss mineral waters.
- Disinfection: Disinfection of mineral water is prohibited, for instance by UV radiation, ozone treatment or pasteurisation. A natural mineral water must be absolutely pure at source.
Natural mineral water must exhibit constant mineralisation for several months, with only slight fluctuations permitted. These must be validated using recognised analysis methods and checked by the authorities in regular intervals.
Spring water is drinking water that is bottled at source. Unlike natural mineral, spring water is not characterised by its particular geological origins, the type and constant quantity of mineral components or by its pristine purity. Spring water may only be treated in ways that are also permitted for natural mineral water.
Spring water is therefore drinking water that is bottled at source and that must never be treated or contain any (aroma) additives. It is subject to strict analysis methods and regular checks by the authorities. But it needs to guarantee compliance with the purity criteria for drinking water as well. Calanda water is an example of this category.
Drinking water is a term used to describe water for consumption, cooking, the preparation of food and for the cleaning of objects. Drinking water must be fit for consumption from a microbial, chemical and physical perspective.
The drinking water distributed by the mains network has been treated in many ways. Treatments vary from chemical (addition of chlorine or ozone) and physical (UV radiation, sterile filtration), to microbial procedures (bacterial). There are no restrictions on how drinking water is mixed, and so it may have different origins (spring, ground or lake water).
Drinking water is not required to have any particular mineral content, but is perfectly hygienic in the waterworks. Microbial or chemical contamination is possible on its journey to the place of consumption.
The constituents of drinking water may change significantly over time. Some drinking water is bottled and enriched with carbon dioxide. By its very definition it cannot be classified as mineral water (the same applies to soda streams).
You can obtain information about your drinking water (for instance its origins and composition) from your local government.
Table water is a designation belonging to the category of soft drinks. It may be called table water if natural mineral is used in its production, and not just drinking water. The source of the natural mineral water can be mentioned on the label, but information on mineral contents are forbidden. In a nutshell: it is a natural mineral that was transported in tankers or by similar means before bottling and that may contain the additives permitted for customary soft drinks. Valser Viva belongs to this category. It contains natural Valser mineral water, alongside a variety of ingredients like juice, fructose and suchlike.