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Bottled vs. Tap: What's Up with Water

By +Carolyn Richardson on Jul 21, 2012 10:00 AM in Tips & Updates

Americans’ bottled water craze continues. The Beverage Marketing Corporation just released numbers for U.S. consumption in 2011 which show a 4.1% rise to 9.1 billion gallons of bottle water purchased. That’s just over 68 billion bottles of the standard 16.9 oz. size or 219 bottles of water for every American. As all other major beverages such as carbonated soft drinks, milk, and fruit beverages decline, bottled water continues its uptick. Tap water consumption is also on the rise. While the rise in residential water costs can't be verified as attributed to its use for drinking, restaurants are reporting their highest numbers for water orders yet. Consumer research firm NPD's Crest service reports all other beverage orders are declining. That said, more people are looking for a swig of water and the options are quite simple: bottled or tap.


Taste Aversions

My parents were one of the first in our neighborhood to patronize a bottled water delivery service. I remember thinking something may have been wrong with the faucet or the water fountains I was used to drinking out of. They said it tasted better and was more convenient. While health concerns are a small part of why Americans prefer bottled water, many Americans share the same sentiment regarding bottled water. However, it may be all in the marketing. A number of different municipalities and researchers have taste-tested their tap water against bottled water. The findings are mixed, but bottled water is by no means the undisputed champion of taste. A small Boston University test of 67 tasters showed a third couldn't tell the difference and the other 2/3 split between mistaking tap for bottled water and vice versa. The New York Times did a taste test of NYC tap water against a number of popular water brands, Dasani, a brand that's sourced from tap water, won out. A more recent taste test by Slate Magazine listed Smart Water as the winner, a distilled enhanced water sourced from tap water.

Health Risks

Beyond taste tests, there are health risks that concern some of us. Claims that bottled water is safer than tap water may be misguided. Because 25% of bottled water is sourced from municipal water sources, its hard to say which may be safer if any without comparing specific brands with your own local water. Facts like these are hard to reconcile given the clean image of the source of Fiji water, it's paradise for goodness sake, but a mirage is exactly what some bottled water brands promote. The City of Cleveland's Water Department tested the Fiji brand of water after an ad implied its water was less than desirable. Turns out Fiji had high levels of arsenic compared Cleveland's tap water which had none. So what's the safest source of water? A brochure by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the most concerning waterborne illness, Cryptosporidium, is best killed by boiling water for at least a minute. Secondarily, it suggests using a point-of-use filter or bottled water that has been treated with reverse osmosis, distillation, ultraviolet light, or filtration with an absolute one micron filter. But finding which brands follow these practices is hard. A report from the Environmental Working Group showed a good majority of bottled water companies do not provide information about the source, purity or contaminants in their products. On the contrary, municipalities are required to provide this information to customers. For the EPA's local drinking water reports by state, click here. While tap water is by no means perfect, it is more regulated than bottled water and inspected regularly whereas bottled water does not have the same standards.

The Cost Difference

Now it comes down to money. Those ordering tap water usually skipped a sugar-sweetened beverage because of the cost. Strange though that people are fine with paying 2000 times the cost of tap water for bottled water. Single family residential water rates in major U.S. cities saw an average 9% increase in 2010 according to data collected by Circle of Blue, but its still a bargain compared to bottled water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, tap water costs on average about $2 per 1,000 gallons. You're looking at about $1 for just one bottle of water. The cheaper option is obvious. If you're still stuck on taste or health concerns, and you've got the money, drink what you'd like. Until then, look for the media to tout strategies for saving money on water. Water bottle refilling stations and home water filters are the talk of the hour.

Your thoughts...

Post the taste test results of your favorite bottled water brand and your local tap water. Let us know where you're from and which was best?!


When I lived in Ottawa, IL I had the best tasting water!

Now I live in the Chicago area. When I get a glass of water from the faucet I am almost knocked down by the smell of chlorine! I use a Britta pitcher & filter & I take my own water with me when I ride in the car. If I do not have water with me I am not ashamed to say that I buy water. I cannot drink the Chicago tap water.

Bottled water is one of the biggest hoaxes perpetrated on the citizen's of the world...  If you have access to municipal tap water.. it is tested far more stringently than any bottled water... Corporations will be selling us polluted air next...

Our water here in the Cleveland area always smells strongly of chlorine, can't stand it. And I also bought a Brita filter as who knows what else they put into it, regardless of what they tell you in the annual reports. I don't want to smell like floor cleaner after drinking water. Plus, what with having Cancer and going through Chemo etc., I am very leery of drinking the stuff from the tap, and with the Brita, at least some of these smells and hopefully chemicals, are filtered out.

Comment Removed

I am a professional bottled water drinker! Lol. I never drank water very much until I had my entire colon removed. I definetly have to have cold bottled water with me at all times as the colon would absorb water. Without water I dehydrate easily. There are only certain brands that I will drink. I always detect chemicals in tap water even at a few restaurants. A friend of mine says I'm nuts but good tasting water to me is medicine to me. I can't go without it.

The truth is most tap waters in CA are disgusting.  I live in Palm Springs, CA and when I ran out of bottle water I decided to boil a pot of tap water for drinking.  After it was boiled and cooled it left a ring of white deposits around the rim and at the bottom of the pot and the taste was like a strong chemical metallic.  I later purchased bottle water and did the same and not a single deposit and no bad taste.  I will gladly pay for bottled water, particularly distilled being that I know 1st hand that some cities obviously don't have a clue what impurities lerk in the tap.  I think if anything is misguided it's any town or city which is attempting to promote tap water.


I use a Brita filter

I don't like the taste of bottled water

Hmmm. Interesting article.  Personally (though unpopular) I've always thought buying water (complete with an expiration date) was ridiculous and just another marketing ploy.  We don't live in a bubble yet we continue to reach for that state through our bacterial paranoia as a society.  Heard a radio spot several months ago that took water from an old drinking fountain in a school and monitored it.  Rarely used because the kids thought it was gross and the water from it terrible, when tested the water actually tested higher than many bottle water.  

   Then there's the concern over no fluoride in the bottled water that is in the municipal water.

Personally our family has used a Brita filter for years and filtered our tap water through it.   Ah, there's the beauty of being American, the freedom of choice.  One thing is for sure, we've come a long way from the common bucket of well water and community dipping cup found in the school houses of the childhood of our grandparents and great grandparents.  Progress! (smile)

Original Post by: mowprincess

Bottled water is one of the biggest hoaxes perpetrated on the citizen's of the world...  If you have access to municipal tap water.. it is tested far more stringently than any bottled water... Corporations will be selling us polluted air next...

Let us know how big a hoax this is the next time you have no power due to an electrical storm - hurricane - tornado - or other similar weather related emergency and you don't have any water to drink.  It's amazing how bottled water will keep you alive.

I am a proud bottled drinker. I live in Western Oklahoma, where our tap source is a lake. Even though it's treated, the water smells just like that. Sadly, a Brita filter wont fix it. I've tried! If I can hardly stand to smell fish while I'm in the shower, why would I want to put that stinky water in my body? I'll be more than happy to pay the cost of a bottle of water since they won't pay for proper treatment in my area.

If it were not for bottled water I probably wouldn't drink as much as I do.  I am a bottled water junky.  I do refill my empty bottle during the day at the water fountain considering I don't want to carry 4 or 5 bottles with me to work everday, and I sometimes refill them at home and put them in the fridge (which I have been told is a bad thing to do, something to do with the plastic?), but the bottle is convenient and I can taste the difference in the tap water.  I can buy 24 bottles of generic brand spring water for $2.79.  I am sure there are other things worse for me but that is a different article!

Original Post by: watermaine

Original Post by: mowprincess

Bottled water is one of the biggest hoaxes perpetrated on the citizen's of the world...  If you have access to municipal tap water.. it is tested far more stringently than any bottled water... Corporations will be selling us polluted air next...

Let us know how big a hoax this is the next time you have no power due to an electrical storm - hurricane - tornado - or other similar weather related emergency and you don't have any water to drink.  It's amazing how bottled water will keep you alive.

If you are worried about storms and natural emergencies, the bottled water everyone on here is drinking will only perpetuate it.  Bottled water uses an immense amount of energy, but also a disturbing amount of water just to make it.  Then it is trucked here.  

I encourage everyone to read this article: ttle-one-quarter-full-oil

I live out in the sticks. Even though I'm in-town, our water comes from a well and isn't filtered all that great. 

You won't find me throwing my hard-earned money at bottled water though. I have two sediment filters (One which filters out nearly everything), a water softener, and a reverse osmosis filter at the sink. The water coming out of my tap is just as good as anything you'd get from a bottle, and from the RO filter, it's been tested better. All in all, it costs me about $50 a month.

No mention of the fact that bottled water comes in plastic that has BPA and other chemicals?  Or the fact that plastic bottles are costly in other ways than just cash: they are contributing to the trash in our world, even when recycled.  Get a Brita filter people!

I grew up in South Jersey, on top of an aquifer.  We had a well water.  Best tasting water on earth . . . or in the earth.  I've sampled spring water.  It's great on a hike, but when I've compared it when it's bottled, I'll still take my well/aquifer water.

Anyone praising the benefits and convenience of bottled water should watch the documentary called Tapped. The powers of big companies like Nestles to effect our health, climate change, pollution, and our reliance on oil will astound you. I will never purchase another plastic bottle of water again. 

Original Post by: watermaine

Original Post by: mowprincess

Bottled water is one of the biggest hoaxes perpetrated on the citizen's of the world...  If you have access to municipal tap water.. it is tested far more stringently than any bottled water... Corporations will be selling us polluted air next...

Let us know how big a hoax this is the next time you have no power due to an electrical storm - hurricane - tornado - or other similar weather related emergency and you don't have any water to drink.  It's amazing how bottled water will keep you alive.

We live in an area of frequent Power outages (some as long as 10 days) and have always had our own water sources.

Learned early on to always have a good supply of water stored in appropriate containers for the outages.

Not to say we NEVER drink the "bottled water" it is definitely not part of our daily routine. The benefit has been MORE Money to spend on FRESH Food.

Either Growing our own or that of neighbors

A lot of strong opinions here. Let's just say when all my plants died at the same time I stopped drinking the tap water.  I have since moved to another utility with better tasting water but I still filter it. I only buy bottled water now when I am out and doing without. 

If the only reason you don't like your tap water is the chlorine, just fill bottles from the tap and let them sit uncapped for twenty-four hours.  The chlorine will evanesce out of the water.  The result, while somewhat flat, is perfectly drinkable.

I prefer bottled water because I can see "floaters" in my tap water. If I leave a glass of tap water out for a day then pour it out there's all kinds of stuff stuck to the bottom. PLUS bottles allow me to easily track my water intake. 3-4 a day is a good thing. Without them I don't hardly drink water at all!

No one has brought up the danger of drinking water from plastic bottles that leak all kinds of harmful substances into the water you are drinking!  Please read Boys on the Edge, by Leonard Sax PhD, if you would like to see what a well-respected researcher says about promoting bottled water for kids, especially boys! 

Water is a necessity of life. Like air, we need it to survive. The more it becomes a commodity, the less it will become available to people of low income. Municipalities with poor water quality need to find solutions. I am fortunate to live in a city with excellent water and where there is education on the bottled water issue. This has resulted in more public fountains and a university campus that is supporting a bottled water ban by updating the plumbing on fountains to remove old lead solder and tp provide fountains in cafeterias where water is available FREE to people who bring their own containers. I feel that bottled water is something that should only be used in rare occasions but I sympathize with those who have health issues or poor quality municipal water and feel they must buy bottled water. You are taking on an expense that your taxes should be covering.

I recently heard a recommendation of Fiji and having drank it I its quite a bit different than normal tap water.  I find it interesting that the people testing Fiji pointed out that it had more arsenic....but was there anything about what the other differences were?

Fiji supposedly has 14 Magnesium 14 mg?  Not sure what measurement it is but its listed on the bottle.  If the electrolytes are higher than it could still be better water.  Sure Arsenic isn't healthy but its only dangerous if there is too much...the body can deal with many toxins especially with a good way of eating and proper sleep.

I've heard distilled water referred to as dead water...and it supposedly leaches good minerals out of your body...even if that isn't true I think it best to add an unrefined salt google Real Salt, Celtic Sea Salt, Himalayan Salt for electrolytes.  Or there are many remineralization drops you can buy...those are a bit more expensive though.  I don't have a perfect answer on how much salt to add but I've heard a pinch is good for 1 8 ounce cup...from my calculations that would translate to about 1/4 teaspoon in 1 gallon or 1 teaspoon for 5 gallons of water.

Unrefined salt in case someone doesn't know contains sodium chloride like normal table salt but also tons of trace minerals that table salt doesn't have.  Also table salt adds unnecessary anti-caking agents and sometimes even dextrose...sugar for some reason to.  I'm not sure why they add sugar but its not needed in salt.

I think the most ideal solution is a good whole house filter that filters bacteria, chlorine, and fluoride...a good one costs like 2500 dollars though and/or point of use filter under the sink or filter shower head for showers.  Those cost anywhere from 350-1500 dollars for some 14 stage one I saw.

The less expensive route is of course finding a good bottled water...which has the potential bpa issue or buying reverse osmosis or distilled...which if put in a non bpa plastic container doesn't have that issue.  They both don't have any minerals though or even if minerals are added back it may not be ideal you can use the unrefined salt or remineralization drops to add some back in.


The sad thing is that even with the push for non bpa bottles...from what I've heard some plastics are being replaced with ones that may have the same effects or possibly even worse...the only way to stay away from the issue is to use glass...I'm not sure which BPA alternatives don't have may even have some issue I don't know of.  There are people selling stainless steel bottles...possible alternative?


Original Post by: chefette44

Our water here in the Cleveland area always smells strongly of chlorine, can't stand it. And I also bought a Brita filter as who knows what else they put into it, regardless of what they tell you in the annual reports. I don't want to smell like floor cleaner after drinking water. Plus, what with having Cancer and going through Chemo etc., I am very leery of drinking the stuff from the tap, and with the Brita, at least some of these smells and hopefully chemicals, are filtered out.

If you have cancer please read every blog on this site.  I know a bit the very least start with the articles that mention cancer.

You can search for cancer in the box under

Looking For Something?

and it will pop up the blogs that have that word in them.  There is just so much good information on that site and comments.  I highly recommend telling your cancer story to those on the forum their and I think they will give you some good advice.

Cancer is caused by many things but they are all general things that involve inflammation.  Lung cancer is caused by smoking because smoking with all the junk in cigarettes is based on the inflammation that all those chemicals cause.  Whats the lung cancer rate for smokers of Marijuana ?  Pretty sure its not the same.  Its because Marijuana doesn't cause the inflammation that chemicals in cigarettes do.

For a generally anti-inflammation diet check out. l-eating-plan/#axzz21Gjyi1vc ifts-epi-paleo/

This blog has a bunch of stuff many might find crazy...especially if you don't believe in evolution but I think the main points are good even if the way he got to that conclusion is flawed.

I believe in the idea of evolution to a certain extent but still don't know if I believe that we evolved from primates...though it does sound intriguing.  One of his previous blogs outlines how it might have happened and why we might not have all the bone evidence of it.

The main point of the blog for those who don't read it is that fish have a ton of healthy nutrients especially shellfish.  Iodine, EPA/DHA, Selenium, and B12.  I'm sure I'm missing some of it but those are some of the biggest ones.  Don't worry too much about mercury in the fish either as most fish have more Selenium than Mercury and the Selenium binds to the Mercury making it inert or not harmful.  The same could possibly happen in our bodies if we eat enough Selenium containing foods.  So if you think you have a possible mercury overload eating seafood or getting selenium found brazil nuts I think could be a good way to get rid of them.


Except for people with severe health issues, who may need to drink filtered water or reverse osmosis, I agree that bottled water is a big money-making hoax. I recommend the book Bottlemania as well as the Mother Jones article. If you care about the environment and our dependency on foreign oil, you should care that every quart of bottled water (for plastic, pumping, transportation) uses 1/5 quart of oil to be produced. I wonder if, like the hype about anti-bacterial wipes and antibiotics, we aren't ridding our bodies of the necessary bacteria to keep us healthy by our obsession with purity in everything we touch or consume. My husband and I drink well water from the tap at our family house in Maine while my sister insists on bottled water. My uncle's wife will only drink Evian which has not always tested well. One third of bottled water has not tested as well as city water in New York and Boston (whose water I can attest is excellent). What a group of hypochondriacs we have become.

I'm not actually in the bacteria phobic crowd as I'm fully aware of the fact that there are tons of beneficial bacteria.  That being said I don't think we need the bacteria in water to retain a good amount of those.  I think we can get and maintain a good balance of healthy bacteria by what we eat.

There are many different ways to get healthy bacteria.  Water Kefir, Milk Kefir, Kombuncha(best to avoid flavors with high sugar content), Fermented Vegetables, Fermented Soy(preferable to fermented at least according to Dr. Mercola who has written several articles on why soy isn't great).

You can pretty much ferment any vegetable and the fermented soy like miso, tempeh, natto.  Natto is high in Vitamin K2 MK7 which is very important.  I highly recommend googling all this stuff as its all really good for health and there are numerous instructions on the internet on how to properly make them all.  Some are more complicated than others requiring starter cultures and more steps/more time if you don't buy ready made stuff.

Since I forgot here is a link to some of the reason you should look into getting fluoride out of your water.

There are also numerous articles on for some reason I can't seem to get the search to work on his site.  As well as articles on Probiotics and other health issues as well.

I use my brita water picture and a bpa free water bottle.  I drink more water with the straw in my water bottle too!


I drink bottled water because I can tell the difference. I've done two different blind tests, with 3 trials in each, and tap water just tastes funky around here.

O.K. Just a question, are Americans the only ones that drink bottled water?

"Americans’ bottled water craze continues."  I thought it was more widespread than that!


Another thing I wonder is...why are we using Chlorine to sanitize I heard Europe uses O3 or Ozone...and from what I've read it doesn't have the issues chlorine has with Chloramines and such.

Is Ozone more expensive...or is this just another case of the United States government having their head up their asses and not caring about our well being...or being influenced by some lobby connected to Chlorine.  I'll have to look into it more. 

I think it really comes down to taste preference. In my hometown in Louisiana, I never felt the need to buy bottled water because our tap water is amazing. However, since moving to southern Florida, I've found that the tap water here has a powdery taste, leaves residue on my dishes, and the ice made from it completely alters the taste of any non-water beverage it is in. Different areas, even within a metropolitan area, get their water from different sources and treat it using different methods. Unless there is an advisory, the water isn't unsafe to drink. Sometimes it's just nasty. 

Here's one that no one has mentioned  ...  rain water.


I am in the outback of Australia and we have to rely on rain water for drinking. The health department doesn't recommend rain water but it realises that in situations like ours it is the best option. We don't bother to filter or anything .. just plain fresh rainwater.


Personally, I buy a six pack of "smart water" in 1 liter bottles occasionally; after drinking it I simply refill it @ the water fountain or our filtered thru-the door water...I have a problem with paying for botled;its simply more convenient to keep a bottle at my workstation all day.  Water is water, but I do prefer it filtered. 

If you smell chlorine, you have a break in your water system somewhere.  Water companies, for the most part, do not use it any more but use chloridane which will remain unprocessed by your body but smells like chlorine if it is exposed to 'dirty' objects.  When I clean my workout bottles, they originally smell like chlorine until the bottles are clean.  I drink 'bottled water' from a tested facility that uses RO and O3 to cleanse the water.  Their supply is the city water company which is inspected every six months due to contamination.

I never drink water straight from the tap, but I also don't buy bottled unless I have to. Water straight from the tap tastes like a mouth full of pool water - gag! Fill a gallon jug with tap water, toss it in the fridge for 12-24 hours, then pour it in a Britta water bottle to get rid of the rest of the chlorine taste. Good to go.


I live in San Diego, CA where tap is terrible due to all of the rocks that the water flows on to make it here.  Growing up we had a bottled water service and when going to Grandma's in LA none was needed as even the tap water there was better than the San Diego stuff.

The solution to the bottle vs. tap question for us: Reverse Osmosis system from Costco set up under the sink.  I looove this water.  It was at my mom and stepdad's for years and  we finally got it for our kids, one being a bottle baby who needs R.O. water for her formula.  Love not lugging around big bottles and love that I can reuse my stainless steel bottles over and over- much greener in my opinion.


Lincoln Nebraska tap water tastes better than most "designer" water. I've "fooled" many an out of town guest. It tastes better than Dasini, which I find flat, leaning toward distilled water taste. Nevertheless, I go through a lot of Dasini or other purified water because it makes better coffee, tea and Gatorade.

Live in the Seattle area and LOVE the tap water!  

I realise the irony of paying for something we already pay for through our water rates but the water straight from the tap here in Vegas tastes disgusting. Barely drinkable ice cold and intolerable at room temp (my preference). So I got a brita filter bottle, one for work and one for home. Now my water is still from the tap but is filtered as I use it, from any source.

We actually did a blind taste test of our own involving room temp water: several brands of bottled water, one from the tap and another from my filter bottle. All 10 people testing could pick out the water straight from the tap.. it really is that bad. I know the water board test it for safety but whomever is testing it for taste is doing a terrible job. 

Original Post by: toroneh

I use a Brita filter

I don't like the taste of bottled water


it is great!

i love mi bot water too always love guzzlin' it down

and or 1/2 gal per day of gallon,but spring water all i drink i have not had TAP

Water, en anos..(i said in years)and i m not ever, UNLESS emergent-matter call for such issue.



I live in St. Vincent in the Caribbean. In our home, we use a water filter for added health security. We get our water directly from a natural spring, so the taste is great! We have a few companies selling bottled water, and it goes for about roughly US$1 per bottle. We drink a lot of water, so buying bottled water would be very expensive, not to mention wasteful.

I live in Redlands, CA. and the tap H20 tastes great, especially decanted and chilled. Unless your purchasing;

Alkaline water is water that has a higher PH than the water that comes out of the tap. 7 is the most common PH of tap water which means it’s completely neutral. Many individuals like water that is higher alkaline since it has been known to neutralize and eliminate toxins.

When determining which brands of bottled water are alkaline, it’s sometimes difficult to tell. Many different brands of bottled water will vary in their alkalinity, while some remain constant. Most drinking waters hover right around the classic PH of 7, while some are a bit higher. The brands of bottled water that are the most alkaline include Fiji (7.5), San Pelligrino (7.7), and Trinity Springs (9). Other brands can also be above or below the alkalinity of normal water depending on the batch. Brands such as Arrowhead and Poland Springs can range from a PH of about 6 to 7.6. I really don't care for any of these brands, but if you would like to benefit for high ph water try the Kagen water system. You will never drink anything else again. Check this site out; Water is essential for life, but it is often overlooked. It's critical not only to drink water, but to drink the right water; find out how choosing Enagic water can truly change your life with a Kangen Water® system.

we used the brita for years but finally stopped doing it because every few days there was green mold in the was a majo hassle scrubbing it out- boiling it etc

whats that about? i8'm not thrilled with tap water- but i have gotten used to the taste (I pretty much only drink water and seltzer- i would ratherget my calories elsewhere). i have gotten used to it though.

When I was growing up we had well water. I never liked the taste of water that much, but it definitely tasted better than the city water OR bottled water.

In my last comment I meant to say the well water tasted a lot better than city water or bottled water. something about all the minerals in it.
The city water tastes like chlorine. yuck.

I know one thing our tap water where I live has a ton of calcium in it. Even with a water softener and a Brita filter the calcium still gets through...

Pretty sure Brita isn't meant to remove minerals if you want mineral removal you have to go RO or distillation.

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