How to Choose the Right Bottled Water

Two Parts:Purchasing Bottled WaterConsidering Other Sources of Water

When shopping for bottled water, it can be difficult to figure out which one to buy. This is especially true if you're unsure of the meaning of the marketing terminology on the packages or bottles. Many bottled water companies have been promoting their products as more natural, healthier, or superior compared to tap water.[1] However, a little research can help when you're browsing a large variety of bottled waters. Some basic information can help you purchase a brand or type of water that's best suited for you.

Part 1
Purchasing Bottled Water

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    Purchase natural bottled water sources. Companies offer a wide range of water types. However, you may want to purchase water that was bottled from a natural source — like a spring or artesian well water. Try:
    • Artesian well water. This is water that is bottled from a well that contains either sand or rock that acts as an aquifer.[2] Aquifers are important as they are a natural filter for the ground water.[3]
    • Mineral water. This type of water contains no more than 250 parts per million of dissolved solids — it contains both minerals and trace elements. No minerals or other elements that are not already present can be added to the product at any time.[4] Common minerals found include: calcium, magnesium, and potassium.[5]
    • Spring water. This must be collected from an underground source that flows naturally to the ground's surface. This type of water must be collected only from the spring or a tapping system that's directly accessing the spring.[6]
    • Sparkling water. This type of water contains carbon dioxide naturally. After treatment, companies may add carbon dioxide back into the carbon dioxide content.[7]
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    Avoid bottled water from municipal sources. Some companies sell bottled water that is considered "tap water" or comes from a municipal source. If you're looking for an all natural or artesian water, bottled tap water should not be purchased.
    • Purified water must meet the standards laid out by the US Pharmacopoeia. It must go through either distillation, reverse osmosis, or deionization prior to being bottled.[8] However, this is often collected from municipal sources and is generally the same as the water that comes from your tap.
    • You may see these labeled as "Distilled Water," or, "Purified Drinking Water."
    • Bottled purified water is generally not thought to be inferior to other forms of bottled water, however it should be known that it does not come from a natural spring source and is not considered artesian water.
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    Read the packaging labels. If you look at the bottom of the bottle or on the back of the bottle, you will see a label that refers to the type of plastic used in the particular bottle. Many bottled waters use a plastic known as PET. This particular type of plastic is used in a variety of plastic packaging and is considered safe by the FDA.[9]
    • The chemical Bisphenol A (also known as BPA) has come under a lot of scrutiny lately. As with PET, you will see this labeled on products that contain any BPA.[10] However, the FDA has reviewed multiple studies and has stated that BPA is safe for consumers.[11]
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    Calculate your estimated budget for bottled water. Some bottles can be quite expensive — especially those that have unique packaging or claim to be artesian waters.
    • When thinking about purchasing bottled water, you need to consider how many bottles of water you drink daily or plan on drinking. This daily count will help determine how much you should purchase each week.
    • It might be more cost-effective to purchase bottled water in bulk. Many stores give discounts when you purchase larger quantities.
    • You may also want to consider a home bottled water delivery system. Some companies will send large jugs of water and a dispenser that you can use in your home to fill reusable bottles.
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    Store bottled water appropriately. Bottled water, like many foods and beverages, should be stored in the appropriate manner to maintain the quality and safety of the product.[12]
    • Keep bottled water out of the light and heat. It's ideal to store it in a cool, dark location.
    • There is no expiration date for bottled water as long as it's stored still sealed in a dark, cool location.[13]
    • Keep in mind how the bottles of water were handled or stored. You may want to consider washing off the top or lid, especially if it doesn't have an outer protecting film. The top and lid could have bacteria or other contaminants on it from it's handling process.[14]

Part 2
Considering Other Sources of Water

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    Purchase a home water purification system. Home water purification systems may be more cost-effective long-term and cut down on the disposal of large quantities of plastic water bottles. There are two types of purification systems: whole house systems (these treat all water entering a household and are typically more expensive) and point-of-use systems (which treat water at the point of use — like a shower head or kitchen sink faucet).[15] Many people choose the point-of-use systems as they are less costly. These include:
    • Personal water bottles that have a built in filter. Great for on the go people who might not always have access to purified water.
    • Pitchers that have a built in filter and purify water as it drains through the filter.
    • Faucet purifiers that attach directly to the kitchen sink. However, many times specialty faucets are not compatible with these.[16]
    • Refrigerator/freezer purifiers. These are usually built into your appliance and allow you to have purified water and ice cubes that are frozen from purified water as well.
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    Purchase BPA-free reusable water bottles. If you decide to use or consume tap water or you have access to a purified water dispenser, you may want to consider purchasing a reusable water bottle to be more environmentally friendly.
    • Using a reusable water bottle can help cut down on the amount of trash and plastic bottles discarded.
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    Drink tap water. Although tap water or city water may not have the appeal that some bottled waters have, it's a healthy and low-cost alternative to bottled waters. Most tap water is completely okay to drink. If you're worried about it, just purchase a filtered pitcher that sits in your refrigerator so that you have an extra level of filtration.
    • Tap water is tested more frequently and for more bacteria and chemicals than bottled water.[17] In addition, it's required to go through a disinfection process prior to consumption.[18]
    • Up to 1/4th of bottled waters are actually just bottled tap water (this is why it's important to read and understand the labels and marketing terminology).[19]


  • If bottled water does not fit into your budget or if you cannot find a brand that fits your desired quality, you may want to consider a water filter.
  • Some bottled water companies may make false claims on their bottles or in their advertising about the source of their water. Be sure to get your information from unbiased sources.
  • Bottled water can become quite expensive, even if you are purchasing less expensive brands. Remember to calculate your monthly budget for drinking water and stick to it.
  • Be wary of selling phrases such as "natural, glacial water" or "pure, spring water." These phrases might mean nothing more than purified tap water.

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Categories: Nutrition and Lifestyle Eating | Water Ice and Sports Drinks