Hot Springs and Mineral Waters
“Taking the waters” is a term that refers to soaking in hot springs with high mineral content. Throughout history, this practice was believed to be very therapeutic, both in terms of relaxing and for health benefits. Many spas today advertise the mineral content of their water and talk about specific health benefits of their particular combination of minerals. However, there is little documented medical literature to support many of these claims.
News You Can Use
- Minerals dissolve in water slowly in many cases. Constant contact with the water will gradually leach minerals from the surrounding soil, increasing the cation and anion content of the water. Some minerals (such as sodium salts) will be very soluble, while others (aluminum) are fairly insoluble. Magnesium and calcium salts are commonly found in water supplies.
- Water at high temperatures will dissolve more minerals and will dissolve them more rapidly. The water at Yellowstone National Park is heated by underground magma caused by previous volcanic activity. Variations in mineral content and pH can be seen in the different Yellowstone locales, with both acidic and basic water pH values seen at different sites.
- “Hot spring” is a term that can mean a number of different things. In general, a hot spring is anybody of water warmed by geothermal heat. Since these hot springs dissolved minerals in higher quantities than normal-temperature water sources, they tend to have high mineral contents, including calcium, lithium (and sometime radium).
- Many microorganisms also inhabit hot springs, some of which can be harmful to humans. Two different types of amoebas are often seen that can give rise to meningitis. Legionnaire’s disease has been shown to be transmitted at times through hot springs. In some very hot springs at low pH, viruses have occasionally been isolated which have been shown to infect cells in the lab.
- Watch a video at the link below to learn more about Mammoth Hot Springs at Yellowstone:
Show What You Know
Use the links below to learn more about hot springs and minerals. Then answer the following questions.
- How does magnesium contribute to better health?
- What was the source of the mineral water in the Montana study?
- Why is it considered healthy to soak in water containing dissolved minerals?
- Are the claims made for the curative value of hot springs valid?