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Chalybeate waters, also known as ferruginous waters, are mineral spring waters containing salts of iron.


The word "chalybeate" is derived from the Latin word for steel, "chalybs", which follows from the Greek word "khalups". Khalups is the singular form of Khalubes or Chalybes, who were mythical people living on Mount Ida in north Asia Minormarker who had invented iron working.

Ferruginous comes from the Latin word "ferreus" meaning "made of iron," which is derived from the Latin word "ferrum" which means "iron."


Early in the 17th century, chalybeate water was said to have health-giving properties and many people have promoted its qualities. Lord Dudley North discovered the chalybeate spring at Tunbridge Wellsmarker in 1606. Dudley North’s physician claimed that the waters contained ‘vitriol’ and the waters of Tunbridge Wells could cure:

the colic, the melancholy, and the vapours; it made the lean fat, the fat lean; it killed flat worms in the belly, loosened the clammy humours of the body, and dried the over-moist brain.

He also apparently said, in verse:

"These waters youth in age renew
Strength to the weak and sickly add
Give the pale cheek a rosy hue
And cheerful spirits to the sad."

The English physician Thomas Sydenham prescribed chalybeate waters for hysteria .

The Recoaro Spa is on the outskirts of Vicenzamarker, Italymarker. In 1689, a spring of ferruginous water rich in gas and tasting pleasantly was discovered by Count Lelio Piovene of Vicenza. Local residents called the water from this spring "Saint Anthony's miraculous water" because they claimed it had therapeutic properties.

Dr. Anthony Relhan (ca. 1715-1776), promoted the drinking of mineral waters and particularly water from the chalybeate spring in St Anne's Well Gardensmarker, and published A Short History of Brighthelmstone; with Remarks on its Air, an Analysis of its Waters, Particularly of an uncommon Mineral one, long discovered, though but lately used in 1761. This led to a substantial increase in public interest in drinking mineral water. The town of Enfieldmarker, New Hampshiremarker, even changed its name temporarily to Relhan because of the profound public interest in this form of therapy.

Princess Victoria, later Queen Victoria, drank the waters every day during her stay in Tunbridge Wellsmarker in 1834. She and her mother, the Duchess of Kent, would pay a visit to the spring and then enjoy a stroll along the Pantiles. The water contains a significant level of dissolved mineral salts, with iron and manganese contributing to its characteristic flavour.

Content of the chalybeate waters from Tunbridge Wells

An analysis in 1967 showed it to contain (parts per million):

Notable chalybeate springs

Chalybeate springs are found in:
United States

Places named for chalybeate springs

Several places throughout the world have taken their name from similar springs, including:


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