This is not a new term. Unprocessed, unpurified water from sources such as rivers, lakes, underground aquifers, wells, and so on, has been labelled raw water and used for making cement, for washing cars, flushing toilets, and for all purposes where it doesn’t matter whether the water is contaminated or not. In the building trades and in the management of sewage systems, the term has been common through the last century. The earliest citation dates back to the early 1600s – Francis Bacon commented that raw water was better than distilled water. He was ahead of his time!
Raw water has recently come into mainstream use, as it were, because of the claim that it is beneficial to health, having minerals in it and other substances which can do you good and which would be removed by filtration and purification.
First we drank the water that we found in nature because it was the purest and best. Then we learnt that it was difficult to find uncontaminated water anywhere in the natural world and we should not drink it, unless we boiled it first. So we took to carrying bottles of water around with us. But that is not enough. A society that has to market a new product has to find a new water. In this instance, raw water.
The advertising blurbs talk about it coming directly from natural springs and giving a sense of wellbeing and inner peace that no other water can provide. In fact it is likely to be extremely dangerous. Bottled water is normally required to be processed to make sure there are no nasty microorganisms in it. But the sellers of raw water regard all such interventions and controls as killing the water.
The only water that has gone one step better is rainbow water which is not only from a natural spring but has been subjected to sound waves which have the frequency of love. Who would have thought!
I am giving it a high rating because I think that it reflects our wish, in the face of our anxiety about the environment, to romanticise the natural world, combined with a perverse desire to resurrect magic and superstition rather than respect facts or science. It is also the achievement of a new level in the craze for drinking bottled water.