Hydration: It’s all up in the air!

Departure lounge

When we fly, whether for business or for leisure, we like to be prepared. We like to know that we’ve packed all we need, and are ready for our journeys. However, there are some essentials we cannot prepare or pack. Passengers are unable to take liquids of more than 100ml through airport security, and this includes drinking water.

Recently, it’s come to light that over 50% of airports in the UK lack free drinking water for passengers (Money Saving Expert, 2017) in their passenger and departure lounges, meaning that if customers wish to remain hydrated once airside, they will have to purchase bottled water. This water is significantly increased in price, and can cost passengers up to £3.00 per bottle. Today, we’re discussing your rights when it comes to airport hydration, as well as why it’s so important!

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Industry battles: Fizzy drinks vs. bottled water

Bottled water

For decades, fizzy drinks have dominated the bottled refreshment market. Visit any store refrigerator or cafe, and you’ll see shelves upon shelves of cola, lemonade, and sodas. However, the times, they are a changing! 2016 saw an explosion in the bottled water market, with varieties such as vitamin infused, coconut, flavoured, and medical water, and the consumers are paying attention. Between July 2016 and July 2017, bottled water sales in the UK outstripped cola sales, with 1.77 billion litres of bottled water being purchased, in comparison to 1.72 billion litres of cola, this is the first time in refreshment history that this has happened, and is the fourth consecutive year of double digit growth for the bottled water industry in the UK.

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Hard Water in the UK – How Much of an Issue Is It?

Water hardness is one of those terms you hear fairly regularly, but might not necessarily know what it means. Essentially, as water falls as rain, it runs over rocks, picking up various mineral deposits as it flows. Where there’s a lot of naturally occurring calcium and magnesium, hard water forms, which means areas with a lot of chalk and limestone.

Tests carried out across the UK have revealed that the ‘M4 corridor’ has a consistently high frequency for hard water, including Bristol, Bath, Reading, Swindon and London. Hard water is also especially commonly found in the Home Counties, like Kent, Surry and Hertfordshire. 
What’s the big deal? Well, unfortunately hard water isn’t a phenomenon only of relevance to scientists; it’s easy to tell if you’ve got it in your home taps. Hard water tends to taste worse, and causes a much heavier build-up of scale, scum and the tendency to break taps and piping if it’s left unchecked. 
Img source: globiesfeed.com
There are differences in the level of water hardness, and it’s typically measured in terms of calcium carbonate (CaCo3), with soft being under 150mg/l, hard being between 150 and 300mg/l and finally very hard being over 300mg/l. The British Drinking Water Inspectorate has reported that drinking water in England is generally very hard. This is all down to the abundance of limestone and chalk in the British landscape. London, for instance, gets its drinking water from the Thames and the Lea, both fed by limestone springs and chalk aquifers. 
Coastal areas tend to have softer water, especially in Wales, but also in Devon and Cornwall. Some metropolitan areas built their own reservoirs in the 1700s to have a more local supply (Manchester, most prominently), which had the added side effect of making the water softer, as it didn’t come into contact with any limestone. 
If you don’t actually live in Manchester, or any of the softer regions, it’s not a death sentence; there are ways of dealing with the hardness of your water supply. You can outfit your house with full home filtration systems, which attach to the piping system just before the water reaches the house, or you can fit specific filters to your showers and taps. If you can’t manage this, don’t worry, hard water doesn’t present a health risk, it’s just not the best for the plumbing, so make sure you clean your system out as often as you can.  


Callum Davies
Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. 

What to Consider when Buying a Water Cooler or Dispenser

Having a water cooler or dispenser at the home or office can be a benefit for many reasons. Apart from the obvious hydration and general health benefits, we have also talked before about how they can actually help to boost productivity. Choosing the right one, however, isn’t always as simple as it sounds. So, what are the important factors to consider?
The first thing to decide is whether you require a cooler or a dispenser. While both are capable of providing a refreshing drink, the difference between the two is, well, obvious really. While a dispenser holds the water within at room temperature, coolers actually chill their contents. Generally, coolers are the preferred option, although dispensers do usually have the benefit of not requiring any kind of power source.
Now we move onto the questions of free-standing vs. countertop dispensers. While free-standing units a far more commonplace in large offices, countertop dispensers do have a few key benefits. Firstly, they tend to be the significantly cheaper option (I shouldn’t have to tell you why…), and they do of course take up much less space. This could make them ideal for home use. The downside is that due to smaller compressors, they don’t tend to cool the water as much as free-standing dispensers.
The free-standing option, while more expensive and larger, is often preferred due to their typically larger tanks and better cooling performance. Generally, my advice would be to invest in the bulkier unit for buildings of any substantial size.
You should also take a peek at the product specifications if you’re torn between a few options. A good basic rule to stick by: larger compressors mean colder water. Unfortunately these specs aren’t always easy to find or understand, but it could be worth a bit of research to get the best performing model.
You can also get dispensers which include a tap for hot water. For me, this is largely unnecessary; the hot water is far from boiling temperature, making it less than ideal for many hot drinks, and separate dispensers for hot water tend to perform a lot better.
There are of course many more little variables if you look hard enough, but this should give you enough information to make a fully informed purchase. If you need a little extra help, some companies, such as

Borg & Overström, incorporate elements into their site to help you choose between their own selections.

Sam Bonson
Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.

How to Find Water in the Desert

The desert is an unforgiving place. Between the heat, the scarcity of water and the fact that just about any animal that can survive in such conditions is fully capable of causing you some distinct harm, these oceans of sand prove to be a challenge for even the most experienced explorer.
In deserts, more than almost anywhere else, water is a truly precious resource. With such a lack of the stuff it’s a wonder that anything manages to survive such harsh conditions. However, survive they do, so where are they finding the necessary water?
For us humans, of course, the best approach is to take a decent supply along with us. Unfortunately, things don’t always go exactly to plan, so you have to use the resources around you to your advantage. In the desert, said resources are few and far between, but they are still present if you know how to find and take advantage of them.
The first place to look is in canyons and crevices; north facing in the northern hemisphere and south facing in the southern hemisphere. The reason for this is that when rain does fall, it is somewhat protected from rapid evaporation due to the shade given by the canyon. These pools can gather to significant levels during periods of rain or snowfall, and can sit in the shade for months, providing probably the largest supply you will encounter in the desert (short of lucking out and stumbling into some kind of oasis).
Another sure-fire source of water is in and around broad-leafed plants. Avoid evergreens, as they are not nearly as useful in terms of supplying water due to their much lower intake. Broader-leafed foliage such as palm trees, cottonwoods and willows simply will not survive without a decent water supply; if you can’t find any on the surface, dig down close to the plants and you should find small reserves below the surface.
However, plants are not the only life form that can bail you out of a tricky situation. The presence of birds and insects usually indicates the presence of nearby water. They, like us, depend upon it to survive, and will rarely stray so far beyond their reaches that they cannot make the return journey. Following their route should lead you directly to whatever water source they have found.
The final piece of advice often given as a last resort option is to head to higher ground. I’m a bit unsure on this one, as while higher ground will make it easier to spot nearby water sources of any considerable size, the exertion of climbing and the lack of shade could cause you more harm than good. You would have to be very lucky to just happen to spot water using this method, and once you’ve summited whatever high ground you’ve found, you may find that you have used up so much of your own reserves that you can’t even manage to travel to your discovery.
One final note before we finish: Do not drink from a cactus, whatever the movies may tell you. The liquid found within these plants is, in most cases, not water. Rather, it is a highly toxic compound that can cause vomiting, nausea and kidney damage. You can only safely drink from one of 5 varieties of fishhook barrel cactus, which isn’t toxic, but unless you’re confident in correctly identifying them it’s safer just not to bother. The fruit, on the other hand, is both safe and nourishing; although you may have to boil them to remove all of the hairs and spines.

Sam Bonson
Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.

Can You Ever Drink Rainwater?

When you were a kid, did you ever get told off for sticking your tongue out to catch raindrops? Yeah, so did I, in fact I remember kids at my primary school saying that if you did you would get asthma  (kids are kind of stupid). While it might not give you asthma, it’s still pretty unwise to drink it. 
Think of it this way, that water didn’t start in the sky, at some point or another it evaporated, then cooled and condensed before falling back to the ground. There’s a lot of scope for contamination in that cycle, and even as the rain falls it can collect various airborne particles that you really don’t want floating around inside you. So, it’s pretty clear cut, then, don’t drink rainwater.
Well, as you might have surmised from the fact that this article is, well, still going, it’s not that simple. You can actually drink rainwater, you just have to approach it a certain way. It all comes down to the way the water is stored, and how long it is stored for. Suffice to say, there are no health benefits to drinking rainwater over the clean, regularly available kind you’ll find cascading out of your kitchen tap, but if you’re in a pinch, knowing how to make rainwater safe to drink is very useful.
Collecting rainwater is as simple as setting up a container to catch it, like a bucket or a tarp or even just a bottle, but then you have to go about making it safe. The simplest way is to use a water purification tablet, but obviously you can only carry a limited number of tablets, so if you need to do this repeatedly, it’s not exactly ideal. 
Portable water filter bottles are another viable option, and there are plenty of them available, but you have to make absolutely sure that the one you buy can turn rainwater into a safe drinking source, this isn’t always the case. 
How big is the risk if you forgo all that, though? Well, certain studies have shown that people who do actually drink untreated rainwater regularly generally experience little to no increase in illness, compared to drinkers of ‘safe’ water. This could be because they have built up a tolerance to any dangerous bacteria, or it could be because the general risk is lower than we thought. In either case, rainwater is going to have to be considered as a resource more and more as bottled water continues to become a greater environmental concern.

Callum Davies
Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. 

 

6 of the Most Innovative Water Bottles Available

One of the most amazing things about technology is that even when you think something has been perfected in design terms, developments in other fields can still be applied. A water bottle is a thing that holds water, we’ve long known the best way to structure them, and for some time it’s been fairly evident which materials are the best.

With those boxes ticked, many companies have elected to design water bottles with outlandish new innovations. Some are terrible, others are utterly nonsensical, but some are fantastic. Here are 6 of the best ones.
Grayl Water Filtration Cup

The issue with many home water filters, Britta or otherwise, is that they aren’t exactly portable, or suitable for a single serving. If you want a supply of filtered water to carry around with you, this might be the answer. The Grayl comes in two parts – the outer ‘cup’ and the mesh filter. You fill the cup with water, and then push the mesh filter in and lock it off. This process removes 99.99% of the bacteria present in tap water. The actual filter uses a kind of triple layer effect – an ion-charged mesh to deal with bacteria, a carbon layer to extract metals and chemicals and an anti-microbial layer to stop mould or mildew building up between uses.

Permafrost Hydra Bottle

One of the most irritating things about carrying water in the summer is the need to cool it. Freezing it overnight means it’s a pain to carry around, and it’s initially too cold to drink comfortably. Later in the day, once it’s all melted, opposite issue. Simply dumping ice in has the same issue on a smaller scale. The Permafrost Hydra Bottle sidesteps this issue using a layer of refreezable gel. Empty it, leave it in the freeze overnight and suddenly you’ve got a cooling layer which keeps your water cold for hours, and that you can hold in your hand without the cold coming through.

 Hydracoach

You can read all sorts about exactly how much water you should be drinking, but without a way to actively keep track of it, it’s not a great deal of use. This is where the Hydracoach comes in. You can actually use it to calculate and program your own hydration requirements, shown by a digital heads-up display on the front of the bottle. This way, you always know how much water you’ve had, and how much more you’ll need to meet your daily quota. For people who exercise regularly, this is a serious game changer.

Lightcap

This clever little number is an ideal addition to any hiker/camper’s kit bag. During the day, it absorbs solar power as you’re carrying it around, keeping yourself hydrated, and then at night it transfers all that power into light energy, serving as an LED torch/nightlight. Not only does this mean that you aren’t fumbling around in the dark for your water, but you can also use it to check other things which would usually require a battery powered torch.

Infusion Pro

Fruit infusion is the next big thing. Rather than using fruit flavoured powders or syrups, which are packed full of sugar and preservatives, many people have turned to bottles with a compartment for fresh fruit, allowing the natural flavour to seep through to the water without any of the chemical contamination. There are dozens of different ones on the market, but the Infusion Pro tends to be considered as the best. It’s dishwasher safe, resistant to condensation, and the infuser module is on the bottom, allowing the flavour to stay consistent regardless of how much you’ve got left to drink.

OKO Level 2
Gimmicks are one thing, but it’s important to remember that the quality of the water is what you want to be focusing on, and the OKO might be the MacDaddy of them all in this regard. The cap (plastic, but completely BPA free) contains two filters – carbon and electro-absorption. The bottom line is this bottle is so good at filtering water on the go that it can do this.
Add to that a light, easy to carry design and an attractive range of colours and you’re onto something really quite special.  

Callum Davies
Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. 

Drinking Water: A Useful Weight-Loss Aid?

Nobody is going to dispute that drinking water is good for you; in terms of not only hydration itself, but also the plethora of knock-on effects such as increased brain activity, awareness and attention span, the flushing of harmful toxins and even relief from headaches and migraines. One benefit you may not have realised, however, is weight loss.
When I say that water helps you lose weight, I don’t simply mean that replacing sugary, high calorie drinks with water will benefit you in this manner, that much is a given. I’m talking about a few other little tricks we can play on our bodies, turning an average glass of water into an active weight loss supplement.
There are a couple of different factors that play into why water can be used as such. The first, when you think about it, is actually pretty obvious; water takes up space, space that you might otherwise use for fatty/high calorie food. A glass or two of water before a meal will substantially reduce your appetite because of this. Eat less, weigh less is the basic principle at play here.
The second factor is that water actively helps the body with the breakdown and elimination of fat cells, as well as actually increasing the rate at which your body burns through its fat reserves. So, not only are you taking on fewer unwanted calories, you’re burning through them quicker as well.
My advice? The next time you’re browsing the supermarket shelves, sifting through an endless array of quick-fix weight loss supplements priced as if they’re made of diamond dust, stop, turn around, and grab a glass of water instead. You could shave off a few pounds in more ways than one.

Sam Bonson
Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.

Understanding Your Cat’s Thirst Drive

As any good cat owner knows, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that their diet must consist of meat. Similarly to their big cat cousins, domestic cats have a biological need to consume the tissue of other animals to sustain their life.

As a species, cats have a low thirst drive, because the majority of their water requirement should be met by their food source.  Wet food is always recommended over dry food because of the water content; 70-85% for wet versus 11% for dry (and that’s being generous). For those who feed raw, white meat chicken, for example, is made up of 69% water on average. In the wild, small game will contain 70-75% water.
A diet of purely dry food can cause detrimental health issues in cats. For one, dry food has a very low water content which can contribute to chronic dehydration later in life. Cats, as obligate carnivores, subsist on meat which calls into question the unnecessarily high carbohydrate content in dry food. Lastly, many dry foods use cheaper plant-based protein to fill the place of animal-based protein. What’s so confusing about these facts is that cats don’t need or benefit in any way from plant-protein or carbohydrates.  
A water-rich diet is extremely important for cats considering their low thirst drive. Cats fed a dry diet can often be found drinking more frequently and in seemingly larger quantities than those fed a wet diet. This does not mean that the cat is getting enough water by any means. In fact, a cat fed on dry food will merely be half as hydrated, considering that they aren’t receiving any supplemental hydration from their food source.
If you take anything away from this article, please let it be that cats need water. Switch to canned food, make your own raw food, simply do your research (1, 2), and your cat will live a happy, hydrated life. 

Jacqui Litvan
Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor’s degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).