In the context of drinking water, still water is water without fizz. Before carbonation was invented in 1767, there was no such thing as still water. But with the introduction of bubbles, it became necessary to distinguish water that had been carbonated—sparkling water—and water that hadn’t—plain old still water.
Still water is the most consumed type of water on the planet. Around 5.3 billion people (71% of the world’s population) drink still water from a safe source, such as a tap in their home. It’s also the preferred choice for store-bought bottled water, with the average person drinking 27 litres a year, compared to just six litres of sparkling water1.
In the context of bodies of water in nature, still water is a pond or stream which has no visible current. This is compared to fresh water, which is fed by a water source, keeping it fresh.
Here are some of the most common questions related to still water.
Sparkling water vs still water—what’s the difference?
The only difference is carbonation—a process that uses carbon dioxide gas to add bubbles/fizz to the water. Carbonation slightly increases the pH level of the water, making it more acidic. Over time, this acidity slowly wears down the enamel on your teeth, but the rate is low—100 times lower than a typical fizzy drink2. So while still water is the healthier choice, the difference is negligible. In fact, if you enjoy sugary sodas, sparkling water may give you the satisfaction of drinking something fizzy, while avoiding large amounts of sugar. In this example, sparkling water would be much healthier for you.
Some people believe that sparkling water is an appetite suppressant, but this has never been effectively proven.
Is still water just tap water?
In restaurants, it usually is. In bottles, still water comes in a number of varieties—spring water, mineral water, purified water, distilled, demineralised, and flavoured. Check out our article for more information on the various types of water.
Why is it called still water?
For drinking water, it’s called “still” because it isn’t carbonated, and so doesn’t have any bubbles rising to the surface. For bodies of water in nature, it’s called “still” because it isn’t fed by a water source, and so has little movement.
Is still water safe?
Still water is safe to drink if it’s from a trusted, tested source. For example, Australia has access to safe tap water throughout the entire country, as do most other first-world nations. Still bottled water is safe, as manufacturers have strict health regulations during its production.
Still water from a pond, stream/creek, or river, on the other hand, isn’t safe to drink. It can contain bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can lead to illnesses like gastroenteritis and diarrhoea. Check out our article on drinking river water for more information.
Similarly, sea or ocean water is also dangerous to drink, as it contains high amounts of salt that your kidneys cannot process.
How is still water made?
For the most part, still water comes from nature. Still water that comes from taps or bottles is purified to remove harmful contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, and heavy metals. Water can be purified with processes such as filtration, sedimentation, and distillation, making it safe to drink.
- Still or Sparkling Water? The World Has Spoken, and It’s Not Even Close, The Atlantic
- Claudia Hammond, 2015, Is sparkling water really bad for you?, BBC
- Nicola Innes, Suzanna Zaremba, 2020, Is sparkling water bad for you?, The Conversation