Raw Water: Should You Drink It? Find out about its Risks and Benefits

It is generally found in surface and underground natural sources and reserves.

Raw water is a new buzzword in the hydration world.

It is water that has not been treated, filtered, or processed and includes groundwater, rainwater, and water from seepage wells or bodies such as lakes and rivers.

Raw water fans regard tap or bottled water as processed, while plain water is touted as all-natural with unique tastes and benefits.

Its popularity in recent years stems from the health food movement, which claims that natural food is healthier for you.

However, in reality, not only can untreated water be expensive if you buy it online rather than collecting it yourself, it can be downright detrimental to your health.

The benefits and dangers of drinking raw water

Assumed benefits


Raw water is almost as natural as it comes, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

Here are some purported health benefits of raw water:

Rich in minerals

Proponents of raw water say it is richer in minerals than tap or purified water.

They believe that purifying water removes its minerals. As a result, they consider raw water to be more nutritious and better for health.

However, evidence suggests that water is not a vital mineral supplier for humans. Water provides a very negligible amount of nutrients.

Those who drink raw water also have concerns about fluoride in plain tap water.

The fear is that too much fluoride can cause fluorosis and other health problems. However, studies show that problems only occur in cases of toxicity.

Alkaline content

Raw water drinkers believe that its alkaline content is better for them than treated water.

“Alkaline” refers to the pH level.

A pH value is 1 to 14, indicating the acidity or alkalinity of food, drink, or product. A pH of 7 is considered neutral. A lower number indicates more edge, while higher numbers show that a product is basic or alkaline.

Alkaline water has a higher pH level than treated drinking water. A supposed benefit of raw water is that it helps neutralize the acid in your body.

It is important to note that while having an overly acidic environment in the body can have negative health consequences, an excessively alkaline climate can also cause problems.

An excess of alkalinity can contribute to gastrointestinal changes and skin irritations.

Proponents of alkaline water believe that it has colon cleansing and anti-aging properties, provides immune system support and may help your body resist cancer. However, the scientific evidence disagrees.

The reality is that your body maintains tight control over the pH level of your blood and body. It doesn’t matter if your water has a pH of 7, 8, or 9; chances are it won’t change your body’s pH much.


Believers in raw water boast of their probiotics. While this water may contain bacteria, it is not the good bacteria that get into yogurt and fermented foods.

Most of the bacteria found in untreated water are dangerous and can cause illness in humans.

In 2017, a cholera outbreak occurred in Yemen, affecting one million people. Cholera is a disease caused by eating food or water that contains specific fecal bacteria.

Treating the water with chemicals and filtration helps kill any harmful bacteria present.


While some believe raw water has various benefits, such as being alkaline and rich in minerals and probiotics, the scientific evidence does not support these claims. It shows that the risks outweigh any possible benefits.


Untreated water can contain bacteria, viruses, and chemicals that harm people and cause disease outbreaks.

Bacterial contamination

Without proper sterilization, untreated, unfiltered water can contain various dangerous microorganisms.

This can lead to many health problems, such as diarrhea, cholerasepsis, and even death.

Several studies have found E. coli in natural spring water in Korea and Mongolia. This bacteria can cause serious illness in humans.

According to National Geographic, only 2.5% of the world’s water is fresh and drinkable.

Unfortunately, many countries such as Kuwait, Malta, Qatar, Barbados, and some underdeveloped countries do not have renewable freshwater sources.

They rely heavily on imported bottled water, which is costly for citizens and the environment.

Filtration, chlorination, and sanitation practices have been implemented for public drinking water to improve public health. Cases of waterborne diseases, such as cholera and typhoid fever, dropped to almost zero.

Chemical contamination

Drinking water comes from groundwater, rivers, streams, and lakes.

But it can be contaminated with animal by-products, microbes, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and contamination.

Possible chemical contamination includes:

  • Arsenic.
  • Lead.
  • Copper.
  • Radionuclides.
  • By-products of disinfection.
  • Toxic chemicals

In developed countries, water is treated with acceptable levels of chemicals, such as chlorine to counteract contaminants.

These chemicals kill harmful microorganisms in the water. They also contain anti-corrosives, which help protect your water from contamination from your infrastructure as it travels through the pipes to your home.

Drinking water that has not been treated to purify it of chemical contaminants can put you at risk of illness and even death.

In many countries, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention add appropriate levels of chemicals to tap water. The water then goes through filtration and disinfection processes to remove bacteria or viruses from the water.

While tap water treatment may vary slightly from community to community, there are standard processes to ensure that the water is safe.

Lack of research

Companies and individuals who endorse raw water often claim that they have been drinking it for years with no problems.

However, there is a lack of research on the subject. Water bodies can have different bacteria and pollutants at other times, posing a health risk.

While bacteria or chemicals in water may not directly affect human health, it is essential to note that exposure plus risk equals risk.

If you are continuously exposed to bacteria or toxic chemicals, your risk of illness and disease increases over time and could have serious health consequences.


Raw water can contain various chemicals and bacteria, which can cause illness and even death.

The bottom line

  • Raw water may look pristine and crystal clear, but bacteria and pollutants lurk inside.
  • The risks of drinking plain water include bacterial and chemical contamination and far outweigh the proposed benefits, such as getting some extra minerals.
  • Health authorities agree that if you are concerned about your drinking water, it is best to invest in a filtration or testing system rather than drinking raw, untreated water.
  • Filtering or boiling water, testing the water supply for contaminants, or drinking bottled water that meets FDA standards can ensure the safety of the water supply.