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Special Report on Mineral Waters (1902)

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Part I--General Discussion of Mineral Waters, continued

Chapter VII--Classification of Mineral Waters

On account of the complex character of the material, and the fact that while one substance may be present in large quantities the character of the water is greatly modified by other substances which are present in smaller quantity, it is extremely difficult to classify mineral waters. The following systems of classification are common:

The French method:
The German method:
AlkalineEpsom salt
Common saltIron
Glauber's saltIndifferent

The English and American methods are somewhat more complex. Doctor Buck (Reference Hand-book of Medical Sciences, volume IV, pages 690-694) suggests the following:

Under the first we have two subclasses, the chlorids and sulfates. There may be a large excess of one or of the other.

The bromids and sulfids are also included in this class. The Kreutznach water is an example of this class containing chlorids, and the Crab Orchard water and Friedrichshall water are good examples of sulfate springs.

Under the second class he would include alkaline and neutral salts such as carbonates of sodium, potassium, lithium and magnesium. The Saratoga waters are good examples of this class. Some changes are liable to take place in these springs so that their composition may be different after a time. The change might be as follows: Na2CO3 + CaCl2 = CaCO3 + 2NaCl. This change was noticed in the case of the Harrowgate (Eng.) waters, which, after several years, were found to be saline rather than alkaline in character.

In the third class Doctor Buck would include sulfuric acid only. He admits that such springs are rare. The Oak Orchard springs (N. Y.) contain 13.37 grains of sulfuric acid to the pint, and the Rockbridge Alum (Va.) springs contain 2.34 grains.

In the fourth class he would include those like the Rockbridge Alum, containing 3.01 grains alumina out of 5.80 solids per pint. There are some arsenical springs in France that contain .1 of a grain of white arsenic per pint. The Dentonian well, Ballston (N. Y.) has .95 grains arsenic per pint.

The classification suggested by Walton (Mineral Springs of the United States and Canada) is as follows:

I. Alkaline waters 1. Pure
2. Acidulous (carbonic acid)
3. Muriated (chlorid of sodium)
II. Saline waters
(Chlorid of sodium)
1. Pure
2. Alkaline
3. Iodo-bromated
III. Sulfur waters 1. Alkaline
2. Saline (chlorid of sodium)
3. Calcic
IV. Chalybeate waters 1. Pure
2. Alkaline
3. Saline (sodium chlorid)
4. Calcic
5. Aluminous
V. Purgative waters 1. Epsom salts (sulfate of magnesia)
2. Glauber's salts (sulfate of soda)
3. Alkaline,
VI. Calcic waters 1. Limestone (carbonate of lime)
2. Gypsum (sulfate of lime)
VII. Thermal waters 1. Pure
2. Alkaline
3. Saline (chlorid of sodium)
4. Sulfur
5. Calcic

Doctor Winslow Anderson (Mineral Springs and Health Resorts of California, pp, 21-38) gives the following classification:

I. Acid mineral springs VIII. Carbonated
II. Alkaline mineral springs IX. Chalybeate
III. Alum mineral springs X. Chlorinated
IV. Arsenical mineral springs XI. Iodin
V. Borax XII. Magnesian
VI. Bromin XIII. Siliceous
VII. Calcareous, or earthy XIV. Sulfurous (Sulfureted)

Prof. Schweitzer's classification (Geological Survey of Missouri, vol. III, Report on Mineral Waters, pp. 23-25).

I. Muriatic, NaCl 1. + also CaCl2, MgCl2, CaSO4
2. + MgCl2, CaSO4
3. + MgSO4, CaSO4
II. Alkaline, Na2CO3 1. + or - MgCO3
2. MgCO3 only
III. Sulfatic 1. NaSO4
2. MgSO4
3. FeSO4, Fe2(SO4)3, Al2 (sub.)(SO4)3
IV. Chalybeate Waters 1. + MgCO3, Na2CO3
2. + MgCO3, MgSO4
3. + MgCO3, MgSO4, CaSO4
V. Sulfur Waters 1. Sulfids only
2. Sulfids and sulfhydrates
3. H2S, sulfids + thio-compounds

Dr. Crook's classification (based on A. C. Peales's):

I. Alkaline Sulfated
II. Alkaline-saline Sulfated
III. Saline Sulfated
IV. Chalybeate Alkaline
V. Neutral or indifferent

The following simple grouping, based upon the predominant ions present, is suggested and followed in this work:

  1. Chlorid group, or those in which the chlorin ion (Cl) is the predominant one.
  2. Sulfate group, or that in which there is a predominance of the sulfate ion.
  3. The chlor-sulfate group, or waters which contain about equal amounts of the sulphate and the chlorin ion.
  4. The carbonate group, or those in which the carbonate ions (CO3) are abundant.
  5. The chlor-sulfo-carbonate group, or those containing considerable quantities of each of these ions.
  6. The sulfid group, or those waters that give off hydrogen sulfid, and are commonly called sulfur waters.
  7. The chalybeate or iron group. (This may also contain the few manganese waters.)
  8. The special group, or those waters containing some special substance, like lithium, borax, etc.
  9. The soft water group, or those waters that contain only small quantities of any mineral substances.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geology
Placed on web April 7, 2017; originally published 1902.
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