The Food and Nutrition Board recommends 11 - 15 glasses of water per day for adult women and men, respectively. Fortunately, food and beverages count towards this total number. But because water is so vital to our existence, it's important to drink water from a pure source - and plenty of it. The main types of water available for drinking are tap, reverse osmosis, distillation, and filtered. It probably comes as no surprise that tap water is 1 of the least healthy options for drinking. The common additives usually include chlorine and fluoride, both of which are toxic for human consumption. It’s also common to find heavy metals and other impurities. Water quality will vary from 1 municipality to the next. Their water quality report is made publicly available on the web or by mailer. You can also view EWG's report of city tap water at http://www.ewg.org/tap-water/.
The problem with long-term ingestion of reverse osmosis and distilled is 1) the water is completely de-mineralized, 2) they aren’t 100% effective at removing synthetic chemicals, and 3) they actually draw minerals out of your body. Many home systems and bottled water companies use RO, but will add some minerals back in.However, bottling water adds new problems. One concern is that plastic leaches carcinogens into the water. The other is that despite their best efforts to purify the water, contaminants either remain in the water or are introduced into the water at some point during processing. Beware of bottling companies that don't post a water quality report. EWG has done an extensive study on many brands and provided a ranking based on water source, treatment, and testing. The results are available at http://www.ewg.org/research/your-bottled-water-worth-it/search. A very insightful reference.
The final method of water purification is filtration. The pitcher-style filters aren’t very effective, but it’s better than no purification at all. The multi-stage filters, on the other hand, provide about the highest quality water available. The latter types are capable of removing lead, cryptosporidium, particulates, benzene, MTBE, chlorine, trihalomethanes, mercury, VOCs, and a whole lot more. Beneficial minerals are retained. Some are designed to be hooked up to your kitchen faucet while others may be installed underneath the counter. They are ideal for drinking, washing fruits and vegetables, cooking, and your pets. A good quality multi-stage filter is manufactured by Aquasana. They have received the highest marks in reviews of major filtration systems. Berkey water filters do an excellent job at filtering the usual contaminants, plus fluoride which is rare. However, their filters require more than average maintenance.
Transporting water can be difficult if you’re avoiding plastic. A great strategy to use is refilling glass iced tea or Voss water bottles with water from your home filtration system.
Chemicals in tap water can also be easily absorbed through the skin and by inhalation when showering. Luckily, filters are available for showering without having to purchase an expensive whole-house filter. They are reasonably priced, and installation is easy. They are mounted in between the shower arm coming from the wall and the showerhead. Shower filters remove impurities to a lesser degree than those made for drinking water, but some can effectively remove chlorine, VOCs, and trihalomethanes. Aquasana manufactures an excellent shower filter as well.