Is there a simple way to check the purity and genuineness of mineral water available in the market?

The Bureau of Indian Standards has prescribed the specifications for potable/drinking water.

            The mineral water is supposed to contain naturally occurring minerals within the permissible limits of potable water. Even though there are about 30 parameters which have to be checked, the most critical is the biological contamination of E. Coli bacteria. There are various methods for the identification of E. Coli, but it will take a minimum of 18 to 30 hours to know the result.

            Two ready kits are available wherein you have to just add 50 ml of water sample to a culture media (premixed chemicals). One such kit is developed by the Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL), Mysore, and the other by E. Merck, Germany. With these kits the results can be known in 18 hours.

            It is suggested that the Government should check all the parameters of mineral water available in the market on a random basis, as in the case of liquor, as testing at the consumer end is time consuming and costly.

            Dissolved salts in water affect its electrical conductivity and so a quick test to find the purity of mineral water would be to measure the conductivity.

            A number of conductivity meters are available in the market and the best one would be that with a conductivity range of 0-300 micro mhos per cm.

            The test can give quick results: if the water’s conductivity is around 200 micro mhos/cm, then the total dissolved solids (TDS) is about 100 ppm, if it is 250 micro mhos/cm then the TDS level is 125 ppm.

            These figures may be compared with the TDS values printed on the bottle’s label by the manufacturers.

            This will test for the amount of dissolved salts only and not for other contaminations such as by bacteria.