Email This Print this page More...

Types of Water

Download this page in PDF format (1.05 MB).

Water on earth occurs in three forms:

Water wave and ice

  • As a vapour we see it as clouds, mist and steam.
  • As a fluid we see water as rain, in streams, lakes, dams, wetlands and the sea.
  • As a solid we see water as ice in glaciers, hail, snow and frost.

Water vapour

Water is a combination of oxygen and hydrogen (H2O), but as you get different types of dogs and different types of cooldrinks, you also get different types of water. The difference between the types of water depends on the substances that are dissolved or suspended in the water.

Examples of different sources of water are:


Ground water diagram with soil and borehole

When it rains, some water runs over the soil surface and into rivers, but some sinks into the soil. It trickles slowly between the soil particles and around or through rocks. When it meets a barrier like a solid sheet of underground rock, it collects in hollows, forming underground lakes called aquifers. Some people drill a borehole to this groundwater and pump it to the surface. In general, this water contains high concentrations of substances, called minerals.

Natural spring water

In some places, groundwater may “leak” out at the surface as a spring, or “puddle” to form a vlei. Springs are a source of streams and rivers. Generally, spring water has a lower mineral content than tap water and groundwater.

Child drinking tap waterTap water

This is water that has been taken from a river or dam, cleaned at a purification station, such as Rand Water’s, and then supplied via pipelines to taps. During the purification process water is cleaned of all impurities and disinfected before being delivered to the tap. Generally, the mineral content of tap water is between spring water and groundwater.

Demineralised water

Water that has had all its minerals removed by the processes of reverse osmosis and distillation, is called demineralised water. This water, also called distilled water, is the only absolutely pure form of water.

Also see:

Water as a Force in Nature
Rural Water Purification
Water Pollution and Your Health