What do you know about drinking water?

What makes water hard? How is the water quality controlled in Germany? With these and other questions about drinking water as a food  , the Drinking Water  Forum eV started a representative survey on the knowledge of Germans about their number one food.  Most people in Germany can only answer one of three questions correctly – according to the result of the representative survey by TNS Emnid, Institute for Market and Opinion Research. Although many have a fairly good partial knowledge, there is a large lack of information overall.

Few people know that hard water contains a lot of calcium and magnesium

Few people know that the two  minerals  magnesium  and calcium are responsible for water hardness. Almost one in three believes that  iron  is the cause of water hardness. Almost every fourth person is completely wrong with the answer “lead”. Incidentally, a high lime content is not the criterion for increasing water hardness, but it goes hand in hand with it: Because lime consists of a chemical compound of the “hardening agent” calcium with carbon and oxygen.

The lack of knowledge is probably the reason why 40 percent of those surveyed attributed a negative effect to hard water and most of the soft water a positive effect on health. The results of the survey are also confirmed by the numerous inquiries to the Drinking Water Forum eV as to whether the consumption of hard tap water is harmful to health and leads to calcification of the veins. The answer is: No, because calcium as a component of lime is a vital mineral for humans, which is used, for example, to build bones and teeth and is essential for energy metabolism.

However, studies show that drinking and mineral water contribute only to a small extent to covering the mineral requirement in the consumption habits that are common in Germany. Foods such as  milk  and milk products,  wholemeal breadbananas  or vegetables are the more important sources here.

Hard or soft water   a matter of taste

The respondents disagreed as to whether the degree of hardness of the tap water had an impact on the taste of hot and cold drinks. Almost every second person states that they believe that hard water has a negative impact on the taste of  coffee  or  tea  . When it comes to cold drinks, only one in three says that. However, 33 percent of those surveyed believe that the degree of hardness has no influence on the taste.

In fact, coffee or tea unfold their full aroma better when they are prepared with soft water. With cold drinks it is the other way around: in professional tastings in blind tests, water with a higher mineral content often performs better than “soft” water.

Drinking water: origin and quality control

The majority of the population answered the question about the origin of the drinking water correctly. It comes from different sources – 64 percent from groundwater, 27 percent from surface water and nine percent from spring water. All three types of origin are mentioned with about the same frequency.

The quality of drinking water is subject nationwide to the strict regulations of the Drinking Water Ordinance, compliance with which is exclusively ensured by the water supply companies and the health authorities. 89 percent know that the water supply companies are responsible for checking the drinking water quality and 70 percent state that the health authorities are the quality guardians. However, 40 percent of those questioned are convinced that the consumer centers are responsible for controlling the drinking water quality. Overall, only 43 percent answered this question correctly.

Hardly anyone knows: A liter of drinking water costs 0.2 cents

When it comes to the price, many are at a loss. Most of them answer the question “How much does a liter of drinking water cost on average?” with “I don’t know”. For almost half of the population, it ranges between 0.7 and 50 cents. Not even 25 percent of those surveyed named the right price at around 0.2 cents per liter. Incidentally, men have a better sense of price here: every third man, but only just under every sixth woman is correct with this question.

No knowledge champions

While most people in Germany are quite familiar with the origin and quality control of drinking water, there are considerable information gaps when it comes to the effects of water hardness on health or taste, for example. Only seven percent of all Germans can describe themselves as real knowledge champions, one in four even has to pass all questions.

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