MINERAL WATERS, a term used to designate such waters as have as constituents an unusual proportion of medicinal minerals. Mineral waters have been used as remedial agents from the earliest days of Greece and Rome. There were sulphurous thermal springs at Tiberius, which are still used by invalids from all parts of Syria, in cases of tumor, rheumatism, gout and other diseases. There are also warm springs at Calirrhoe, near the Red Sea, which are mentioned by Josephus as having been tried by Herod in his sickness. The Romans discovered the thermal springs in Italy, and the springs in other parts of Europe Baden-Baden, Aix-la-Chapelle, the Spa in Bel gium and others. Pliny mentions mineral springs in various parts of Europe.
Classification.— No classification of mineral waters based upon their chemical composition can be strictly exact, because many springs are intermediate between well-characterized groups. The following classification is regarded as the most comprehensive: The first general division is as to thermal or non-thermal. Waters which issue from the ground at a temperature above 70° F. belong in the first class; those whose temperature is below 70° to the second class.
Four divisions are made as to the chemical constitutions of the several waters: (1) the alkaline; (2) the alkaline-saline; (3) the saline, and (4) the acid. The alkaline waters are those which have an alkaline reaction and con tain carbonic acid or bicarbonic acid ions in predominating quantities; or boric or silicic acid ions in predominating quantities, so that their alkalinity is evidently due to the presence of borates or silicates. The saline waters are those having an alkaline or neutral reaction and contain sulphuric, muriatic or nitric acid ions in predominant quantities. The alkaline saline waters come between the two groups just described: they have an alkaline reaction and contain sulphuric, muriatic or nitric acid ions along with carbonic or bicarbonic acid ions; or they contain sulphuric, muriatic or nitric acid ions along with boric acid or silicic acid ions— both classes being present by predominating constituents. The acid waters have an acid re
action and contain either sulphuric or muriatic acid ions in predominating quantities.
Mineral waters are also grouped as to their gaseous constituents: (1) non-gaseous; (2) carbon-dioxidated,— containing carbon dioxide gas; (3) sulphuretted — containing hydrogen sulphide gas; (4) azotized— containing nitro gen gas; (5) carbureted — containing methane gas, and (6) oxygenated — containing oxygen gas.
The scheme proposed by the United States Bureau of Chemistry for the exact classified descriptions of mineral waters is as follows: mal springs: Sweet Springs, W. Va., 74°; Warm Springs, French River, Tenn., 95°; Washita, Ark., 140' to 156°; San Bernardino Hot Springs, Cal., 108° to 172° ; Las Vegas, N. Mex., 110° to 140° ; Sulphur Springs, Aix-les Bains, France, 108° ; Kaiserquelle, Aix-la The description of a sample mineral water might read according to this schedule, ua non thermic, calcic, bicarbonated, alkaline water"; or "a thermal, sodic, borated and carbonated, alkaline water°— and be exactly classified.
The substances which are usually sought for and measured quantitatively in mineral waters are basic radicales (cations) : iron, aluminum, manganese, calcium, barium, mag nesium, sodium, potassium, lithium, ammonium and hydrogen.
Acidic radicles (anions) : chlorides, bro mides, iodides, fluorides, carbonates, bicarbon ates, sulphides, thiosulphates, sulphites, bisul phites, sulphates, bisulphates, nitrites, nitrates, arsenites, arsenates, metaborates, pyroborates, orthophosphates, metasilicates and hydroxides.
Gases: carbon dioxide; hydrogen sulphide; oxygen, and methane.
The therapeutic action of mineral waters depends chiefly upon their chemical composition and to some degree upon their temperature. Other circumstances, as situation, elevation, climate, geological formation and mean temper ature have an important bearing upon the suc cess of the treatment.