It’s sooo the “in” thing to do. Go to the gym carrying your bottled water. Or walk down the street taking choreographed sips from the bottle. Walking around with bottled water has in a sense become a bit of a status symbol. Anyone can drink from the tap, but who can afford the Aquafina and Dasani, or better yet, the Fiji or Voss waters, which can be priced upwards of $3 per bottle?
You would think for the amount of money you’re spending on the water that it would literally be cleaning your entire body from head to toe. At least, that’s what the advertisements make you think as you watch fresh water flow from springs, geysers and mountains in the commercials. But you’d be surprised by the places that some of the bottled water you love actually comes from – and that it is very often not as clean as the water you get out of your faucet.
Types of Bottled Water
You may or may not have known that there are several types of bottled water that you can purchase. Let’s take a quick look at what they are:
Artesian – Companies like Evian sell artesian water, which is actually water from a well that taps a confined aquifer.
Mineral – Bottled waters like Fiji are considered mineral waters that come from geologically and physically protected underground water sources. In order to be categorized as mineral water, it has to have constant levels of natural minerals. No additional minerals may be added to the water.
Purified – Purified water is usually tap water that has been distilled, deionized, or gone through some type of reverse osmosis process to consider it purified. Companies like Dasani and Aquafina sell purified water.
Sparkling – Sparkling water has been treated so that it contains the same amount of carbon dioxide that it had when it emerged from its source.
Spring– Spring water is said to come from an underground formation where water naturally flows to the earth’s surface at a certain location.
There are misconceptions associated with the different types of water you can purchase. For instance, many assume that purchasing spring water means you are getting the best available, however, many times the bottling and bacteria-cleaning (or lack thereof) processes result in you not getting the water you expected.
What is really surprising about the research found on bottled waters is that there haven’t always been as many guidelines and restrictions in place to ensure that the water is safe for drinking. For instance, a report in FDA Consumer Magazine found that the EPA regulates municipal waters by conducting hundreds of test each month to meet purity standards. However, at the time of the report, the FDA was only required to test bottled waters once a week. Definitely a significant difference. As a result, in 2006 the FDA was required to change its standards and it did so by establishing a quality standard for arsenic in bottled water of 10 ppb or less, which correlates with the EPA’s.
Does it Really Taste Better?
Over the years, many news programs and other researchers have conducted taste tests to determine how good bottled water really is. Surprisingly so, in many of the tests individuals found that tap water ranked higher than many of the bottled waters. For instance, Poland Spring ranked low in two blind taste tests, one conducted by 20/20 and another by Andrea Immer. In the 20/20 study, it ranked number five of six waters tasted, below New York City tap water. And according to Andrea Immer, she thought it was the least tasty of 10 waters, citing that it had “that slightly stale taste of a glass of water that’s been sitting around for a while.” Evian hasn’t faired well in taste tests either, which makes you wonder why it isn’t measuring up.
One reason may be because much of what we drink out of the bottle is actually tap water. This was found true in a study conducted for the Scientific American that discovered that much of the bottled water they tested was not really from a protected source and was actually the same tap water that we drink out of the faucet. For example, I am looking at a bottle of water I’ve been drinking all day. The brand is Nestle Pure Life. It’s source information reads “Private water supply, Red Boiling Springs, TN, and/or public water supply, Red Boiling Springs; Lafayette; Gallatin; and/or Celina, TN.” So apparently they don’t know where the water came from, but it could be from a public water supply in Tennessee. So why am I paying for water that could come from a public water supply? Oh! Because it’s bottled, that’s why! Luckily, I wasn’t the person who purchased it.
I don’t want to be the person who tries to single-handedly take down bottling companies because they aren’t providing us with the healthy, fabulous-tasting water that we think we’re purchasing. Some waters out there are really good, like Voss, Fiji and Volvic. But some of the waters you spend a dollar or more a bottle to drink are really no different than what you can get out of your faucet. So if you’re thinking of cutting back your budget and don’t know where to start, consider cutting back your bottled water budget. It’s not really healthier, it’s not really tastier, but it definitely costs more. If nothing else, spend your money on an in-house purifier. This way, you will have a better idea of what you’re putting in your mouth before drinking it.