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I was recently served a TikTok from Bachelor winner Rachael Kirkconnell about how she “makes her water,” and I have to admit, I was intrigued. Isn’t that a natural resource? Is she about to harvest some condensation? If so, we’ve gone too far.
It turns out that she was essentially creating her own sports drink, or adding minerals to her water to maximize the benefits. She admits that she was forever changed after she stumbled upon WaterTok, a TikTok universe where everyone shares what they do to hydrate better. In her video, Kirkconnell sprinkled some Celtic Sea Salt and a dropper of fulvic acid into her water bottle before heading out to the gym.
Of course, I proceeded to fall into the same WaterTok hole and wonder if I was also depleting necessary vitamins and minerals out of my body by drinking too much plain water. I try to avoid sports and energy drinks because of the high sugar content and other ingredients, but I hadn’t thought to make my own.
Should you add minerals to your water?
According to Stavros Kavouras, a professor of nutrition and director of the Hydration Science Lab at Arizona State University, it’s probably not necessary for the average person to add minerals to their water. However, if you’re an athlete or someone who’s physically active in a warm environment, like a construction worker or anyone sweating heavily, that’s another story.
“[Adding electrolytes is] especially helpful with exercise rehydration for athletes that exercise two or three times a day,” he said. “Then, by adding electrolytes, you ensure two things — one, that you replenish the electrolytes that you lose, and two, that the fluid gets better retained by your body.”
Consuming excessive amounts of plain water can cause hyponatremia, which is when sodium levels in the blood are too low. Because sodium and other electrolytes help maintain the balance of fluid surrounding cells, having the proper balance is important for blood pressure, nerve, and muscle function.
The reason the average person shouldn’t be overly concerned with electrolyte replenishment is that most people consume a sufficient amount in their regular diet. Sodium is the primary electrolyte involved in fluid retention, and most people consume about two times more sodium than is necessary. So unless you’re drinking copious amounts of water, Kavouras said you’re not really running the risk of “washing out.”
Another ingredient that TikTokers often put into their water is baking soda. Kavouras said that it doesn’t serve any purpose on the hydration front, but it is something that athletes have used in the past to buffer lactation production and avoid the burning you sometimes feel in your muscles from high-intensity exercise.
Though Kavouras wasn’t familiar with the fulvic acid that Kirkconnell adds to her water concoction, he did say that it’s not a bad idea to consume some extra potassium and magnesium, which are two of the most discussed mineral additives on WaterTok. People may not be getting enough potassium and magnesium through their diet alone, so while these won’t necessarily aid in hydration, they may still be good for you to consume, Kavouras said.
Best way to drink water
Many WaterTokers also suggest filtering your water to make sure it’s free of heavy metals and avoiding drinking out of plastic whenever possible.
The plastic discussion has been active for quite some time due to the possibility of bisphenol A, the industrial chemical found in some hard plastics, which can leach into the fluids you consume. If you do drink out of a reusable plastic bottle, you should ensure that it’s BPA-free and still replace it regularly. And for disposable plastic water bottles, Kavouras said they’re designed to be single-use, so you shouldn’t be continuously refilling them. In general, he agreed that the best water bottles are those made of glass or another material.
His thoughts about filtration were similar, in that it’s probably better to do so, though not necessarily essential.
“For most places, we tend to believe that it [filtering water] is not necessary because the water that comes through the city is supposed to be palatable, it's supposed to be tested, and it's supposed to be low in lead and all that good stuff,” he said. “However, we know that there's still lead pipes in many places, especially in older buildings. So the water might be leaving from the city water supply without lead, but then in the final connection that takes it from the water pipe to your home, you might be bringing lead into your tap water and drinking it.”
Lead is especially dangerous for people who are pregnant, he added. Given that information, I’d say it’s worth filtering when you can. Plus, it can make water taste better to some people.
Kavouras said that a mistrust of tap water and aversion to the taste are two of the major reasons that people don’t consume enough water, so anything that will make you feel safer and make it taste better is a no-brainer in his book.
I’ve always been a Brita girl, but I’ll admit that as an avid water drinker, I find myself having to refill my Brita pitcher many times per day. The people of WaterTok tell me that a Berkey water filter is the better way to go (or a Hydroviv for under-the-sink filtration and a Pur for faucet-mounted filtration).
They say the Berkey is worth the investment since it’s a one-time purchase that will give you free, clean water for years to come. You can bring it with you anywhere to use with fresh water sources since it doesn’t require electricity, or just fill it up from the tap at home. It has a capacity of over two gallons and promises to remove or dramatically reduce over 200 typical contaminants.
Promising review: “The best filter with options for even more purity!” —Heather
You can buy the Big Berkey Water Filter from Amazon for around $384.
Your willingness to hydrate all starts with the right vessel, in my opinion. If you have a bottle you love that feels easy to carry around and sip from, you’re naturally going to drink more water. But as I mentioned above, you also want it to be safe, which probably means plastic bottles are out.
My current water bottle obsession is this Back to Life bottle from lululemon. Its lightweight, double-insulated, BPA-free steel keeps my water cold and never sweats or transfers any metallic taste. It fits in cup holders but still holds enough water to get me through a workout class or hours at my desk at work. The twist-off cap makes quick sips very doable, but it somehow never leaks. It’s really just the perfect bottle for me and probably for you as well.
Promising review: “Love the colour, was looking for something that would not leak! This water bottle is perfect- keeps the water cold, fits in your cup holder and purse!” —Ania N via Lululemon
You can buy the Back to Life 24-ounce sport bottle from Lululemon for around $44.
Now that you have your filtered water and a safe receptacle, we can get into what to add in. Although Kavouras does not believe that the average person needs to add any salt to their water, he also said that it’s the single most effective electrolyte to help your body retain water. So if you don’t believe your plain water is properly hydrating you, you can add a sprinkle of something like this Celtic sea salt, which also has some trace minerals like magnesium and potassium. (Keep in mind that too much salt can actually dehydrate you and can even be potentially life-threatening.)
Promising review: “ I looked everywhere trying to find ways and products to remineralize my drinking water, and settled on using Celtic salt since it is more cost-efficient than using something like trace mineral drops. I use about a teaspoon and mix it in with filtered water; ever since I started using this I find myself not chugging so much water that it makes me sick. I actually feel more hydrated now and have noticed such a difference. My skin has started to clear up, I have been experiencing fewer headaches, and best of all I finally enjoy the taste of my water again instead of the awful metallic taste from my tap water or even the taste of generic filtered water. I have been consistently using this bag for almost a month and have barely made a dent so I know this is going to last me a long time. Highly recommend you give this stuff a try!” —Kaitlin
You can buy this ½-pound bag of Celtic Sea Salt from Amazon for around $9.
Another brand name you’ll hear all over WaterTok is Trace Minerals. They make these mineral blends that are specifically designed to replenish your body with essential minerals. This is a low-sodium formula, so you don’t have to worry about overdoing it on the salt specifically. It also promises a bunch of other health benefits from upping your magnesium and potassium. Just make sure to follow the instructions for easing in and the amount you should add (some TikTok users said it can have a laxative effect if you take too much too soon).
Promising review: “Love, love, love this product! I can’t go a day without it! I wanted to add more minerals and this really makes a difference!” —Karley
You can buy Trace Minerals ConcenTrace Drops from Amazon for around $32.
In her TikTok, Kirkconnell acknowledges that her water does not taste very good with the salt and fulvic acid in it, but she still feels compelled to drink more of it because she wants to do something good for her body. As impressed as I am by her motivation, I know that I’m not going to drink a lot of anything that doesn’t taste good.
If you’re also more focused on making your water taste better so that you’ll drink more of it, and you’re confident that you’re getting the minerals and electrolytes you need from your diet, these little MiO water enhancers are great to have on hand. They’re all sugar-free, but each flavor has a different nutritional intention — some have B vitamins, some have caffeine, some have electrolytes. My favorite flavor for casual sipping is lemon-lime, and I like to drink the black cherry to get energized before a workout.
Promising review: “Love these to just give me a change from drinking plain water all the time. Kids love them too!” —Britney McQuaid
You can buy a variety four-pack of MiO Water Enhancers from Amazon for around $10.