Americans spend small fortune—nearly 100 billion dollars per year, according to some sources, on bottled water. And while it’s common to shame people for not drinking from the tap, it’s probably not 100% bad. Drinking bottled water is much healthier than drinking juice or soda (or anything else), and the taste of tap water can often be off-putting, requiring an alternative. And the tap water in some cities is impure or even dangerous.
Then there’s mineral water, which at least one study shows is even healthier than “regular” water, offering calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other nutrients in higher proportions than tap water, and in a format that makes it easy for the body to absorb.
Yet almost all bottled water is categorically bad for the environment: the drainage of springs, the mountains of plastic and glass created for the bottles, and the pollution created by transporting all those bottles around the world.
So: What if you could make your own mineral water at home, avoiding the Perriers and Topo Chicos of the world? That’s the promise of Lang’s product, The Well, a countertop device that filters tap water and injects natural salts and minerals into the cleaned liquid. What minerals? It takes a little digging on Lang’s website, but it turns out there are actually only two: 15.8 milligrams of potassium and 0.4 milligrams of magnesium per 100 milliliters of mineralized water , although these proportions can be adjusted.
These minerals are delivered via a complex and surprisingly large machine that invariably draws “what is that?” that” comment from everyone who passes by. Larger than a microwave and not as pretty, this all-white appliance probably won’t be a good idea of an investment in terms of counter space, even so you’ll naturally want to keep it near the sink if you ever intend to get any use out of it.
The mechanism involves three separate filters – a sediment filter, an activated carbon filter and a reverse osmosis filter – through which your water passes in sequence. After filtration, the aforementioned minerals are injected into the filtered water via two liquid packs inserted into the middle of the device, much like ink cartridges slide into a printer. A pair of these mineral packs can hold 250 liters of water before needing to be replaced, priced at $30 per pair.
As an added option, you can also infuse flavor into your water, and while various flavors (and a tea) are “coming soon”, only lemon is currently available. An $18 cartridge placed in a third slot inside the unit will produce about 50 liters of water. The filters ($100 per set) need to be replaced every two years, or so.
I gave The Well a several-week residency in my home. After a long setup where liter after liter of water had to be poured into the device to start the filters (there’s no way to connect it to a water line), it was finally time to get started to drink my homebrew mineral water.
For starters, I can attest that the water tastes good, and my immediate family’s tasting panel all felt that the added minerals were either not noticeable or added a very slight but pleasant salinity to the water. I also found it handy to be able to get mineralized hot water on demand, without waiting for a kettle to heat up – although I invariably measured the (adjustable) water temperature at 15 to 20 degrees below from what I had specified in The Well, the menus are on board.