Nearly 64% of bottled water in the U.S. comes from municipal tap water sources. Which means we often pay for water that we could drink for free from our tap. Companies that sell bottled tap water, collect the water and treat it before bottling.
However, your tap water is treated by water treatment plants and must meet a high standard of water quality, as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Bottle water companies do not have to meet these water quality standards.
So, while bottled tap water has been treated, your tap water has been treated and tested to meet a high standard of water quality – and is FREE!
Overall, most brands of bottled water that contain tap water also add minerals, electrolytes or flavoring to improve the taste of the water.
Brands of Bottled Water That Are From Tap Water
The following brands of bottled water contain ‘purified’ or ‘drinking’ water obtained locally from tap water sources. Click on each image to view more information regarding their product on Amazon.
Aquafina water is purified at more than 40 locations across the U.S. and Canada. Aquafina uses an extensive purification process that includes reverse osmosis. In fact, Aquafina says their water “exceeds the purity standards set by the federal government“.
So, while their water is collected from tap water sources Aquafina make sure the water is purified and of good quality before bottling.
Core water is definitely more than just water from tap water sources. This water is subjected to 7 stages of purification that include reverse osmosis, micron and carbon filtration, ozonation, and even ultra-violet exposure.
So, while Core water may come from the same place as your tap water, you can be sure that 99.9% of contaminants have been removed. However, Core water also doesn’t contain fluoride – an important mineral for our oral health (read more about why fluoride is in our tap water here).
Dasani water is purified by reverse osmosis, with a special proprietary blend of minerals added for a pure, crisp, fresh taste.
The water is originally sourced from municipal tap water supplies all over the U.S., including Arizona, Colorado, California, Michigan and Minnesota.
Essentia is water purified by reverse osmosis, with an added blend of ionized alkaline electrolytes to improve its taste.
Kirkland water is actually sourced from another bottled water company (Niagara Bottling LLC). Their water is sourced from springs, wells and municipal water (tap water), but there is no way of knowing which water has ended up in your Kirkland bottle. Although, odds are it contains tap water.
Like many other brands, Kirkland water has minerals added to improve the taste.
Lifewtr is sourced from municipal reservoirs (tap water sourced) and purified using reverse osmosis. Electrolytes are also added to improve the taste of the water, including Magnesium Sulfate and Potassium Bicarbonate.
Nestle Pure Life
Nestle Pure Life water is not necessarily all from tap water sources. According to Nestle, the water is sourced from wells or municipal supplies (tap water).
Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing which water has gone into which bottle.
Propel is Gatorade’s version of water. It is sourced from tap water supplies and purified using reverse osmosis. Propel water has electrolytes added to it – sodium bicarbonate, magnesium sulfate and potassium bicarbonate to be precise – for enhanced hydration.
Propel water comes in a range of flavors, such as watermelon, lemon and grape, but can also be bought unflavored.
What Contaminants Are In Bottled Water?
Bottled water that is not purified, such as spring or mineral water, can contain bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Several brands of bottled water have tested positive for the parasite cryptosporidium and the bacteria E. coli in recent years. However, microplastics is the most prevalent contaminant in bottled water.
In fact, a recent study of 259 bottles of water found 93% contained microplastics(Ref 2).
However, unlike municipal water facilities, bottled water companies do not have to notify the public if their water contains contaminants. Even if the contaminant is dangerous, or in excessive concentrations.
Which Bottled Water Is Safest To Drink?
In general, bottled water is safe to drink. Bottled water must meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations for identity (water source), water quality, and good manufacturing practices. Water must be sampled and tested to meet these standards. The FDA also inspects bottling plants to confirm they are safe and sanitary.
While bottled water does not have to meet the stringent water quality guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it does have to be safe to drink.
Any water you drink from a bottle must have low (or no) chemical, microbial, physical or radiological contaminants. There is no ‘safest’ bottle of water to drink, because they should all be safe.
However, tap water is likely safer to drink than bottled water.
Not only does tap water have to meet the high water quality standards set by the EPA, it is not stored in plastic – which can degrade and enter the water as microplastics.
In fact, a recent study(Ref 3) found 325 microplastic particles per liter of bottled water!
Meaning tap water is safe to drink and free. The same can not be said about bottled water.
Bottled Water Labels – and what they mean
Bottled water are required to display the source of their water on the labels. We can use this information to help us choose what type of water we are buying, and drinking.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are 5 types of bottled water:
- Natural Mineral Water
- Spring Water
- Artesian water/artesian well water
- Well water
- Purified (or Drinking) Water (tap water sourced)
1. Mineral water comes from underground sources and is naturally high in minerals – usually calcium and magnesium. The water must contain at least 250 parts per million of total dissolved solids (mineral ions).
2. Spring water is, as the name implies, water that comes from a spring – which may be underground or at the Earth’s surface. For spring water to be sold as ‘spring water’ in the U.S it is subject to protection and with a few exceptions cannot be modified or treated.
3. Artesian water is water collected from a well that taps an aquifer. The water rises naturally to the surface because of pressure underground.
4. Well water is extracted from a hole bored or drilled into the ground.
5. Purified (or Drinking) water is water that can come from any source, but typically comes from TAP water. It can be treated in any way that will make the water meet chemical or microbiological standards, such as reverse osmosis or distillation.
Read more about bottled water brands in these great articles:
REF 1 Food & Water Watch. “Bottling Our Cities’ Tap
Water: Share of Bottled Water From Municipal Supplies Up 50
Percent.” August 2010 at 1; BMC. “Bottled Water in the U.S.” 2010
Edition. July 2010 at 255; CAI (2011) at 4 and 5; Gleick, P. H. and
H. S. Cooley. “Energy implications of bottled water”.
REF 2 Tyree & Morrison. Plus Plastic: Microplastics found in global bottled water. Orb Media.
REF 3 Mason, S. A., Welch, V. G., & Neratko, J. (2018). Synthetic Polymer Contamination in Bottled Water. Frontiers in chemistry, 6, 407. https://doi.org/10.3389/fchem.2018.00407