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Is Tap Water Better Than Bottled Water? [What You Need To Know]
Is Tap Water Better Than Bottled Water

Is Tap Water Better Than Bottled Water?

[What You Need To Know]

We all know that drinking water is vital for your health, but we don’t always know what water source is best. You are here because you want to know if tap water is healthier than bottled water. Luckily, the water experts at Crystal Clear Water have the answers to your question.

Sadly, the answer isn’t simple. Let’s quickly break down the advantages and disadvantages of each so you can answer the question, is tap water better than bottled water?


Pros And Cons Of Tap Water

Pros And Cons Of Tap Water

Tap water is also called municipal water and comes from surface water such as large lakes, rivers, wells, or reservoirs. This water passes through a water treatment plant before traveling through pipes into your home or business.

While contaminated tap water is an issue in some areas, it isn’t common. Overall tap water quality is well-regulated and considered safe, convenient, and environmentally friendly. Living in the United States, we are lucky to have one of the world’s safest drinking water supplies (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).


Who Regulates Tap Water? 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates our tap water. It identifies and sets the legal limits for how many potential contaminants enter our drinking water. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) regulates this. Currently, the EPA has legal limits on over 90 different water contaminants. These contaminants include heavy metal contamination, such as lead, and microbes, such as the dreaded E. coli. However, no system is perfect, and contamination in drinking water can still happen. For example, industrial pollutants or bacteria from agricultural runoff can contaminate water supplies. In addition, old pipes and natural disasters can temporarily pollute municipal water systems. 

While the EPA does set limits on what contaminants stay in our water supplies, several public health organizations claim that their current limits are not stringent enough. For example, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) argues that the water regulations in the United States haven’t been updated in nearly 20 years. As a result, certain toxins may impact vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and children.

You can review the contamination report for your local water supply at the EWG’s Tap Water Database to see what is and isn’t in your tap water.

Please note that the EPA only oversees public water sources. If your water source is your own private well, it is your responsibility to have it tested and continue testing it for safety.


Tap Water Taste

There is a stigma that bottled water tastes better than tap water. However, in blind taste tests, most people couldn’t differentiate between tap and bottled water. Generally, tap water tastes similar to bottled water. Yet, factors such as mineral content or the type and age of tap water in your home will impact your water’s flavor.


Environmental Impact Of Tap Water

Before traveling through the pipes to reach your home, water sits in a treatment facility. Here it undergoes several processes to remove all potential contaminants. This includes adding chemicals to kill off any remaining microbes and protect against germs. This typically includes adding chlorine to the water.

After drinking the water, you likely wash the glass. All of these steps use chemicals and energy that impact the environment. However, the overall environmental impact of tap water is less than bottled water. Not only is the process of accessing tap water better for the environment, but tap water doesn’t require disposable plastic containers!


Convenience and Cost

Tap water’s best benefit is that it is low-cost and convenient for you! It’s easy to fill up a reusable bottle with tap water before taking on the day. You can also get tap water at bars, public drinking fountains, and restaurants – all free!


Tap Water Summary

While tap water quality varies by region, the EPA does regulate it, making it a generally safe, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly choice.


Pros and cons of bottled water 

Pros And Cons Of Bottled Water

Bottled water often comes from ground sources, such as underground aquifers. Typically, the quality and taste of groundwater are less likely to vary than water from surface sources. In addition, water deep underground is less vulnerable to contamination than water on the surface. However, groundwater can still hold high levels of contaminants. In addition, contamination can occur during the bottling and/or treatment processes.

It is difficult to always tell the source of your bottled water. However, you can often read the label to understand where it originates. Below is a summary to help:

  • Distilled water is water that undergoes a process where the manufacturer collects steam from boiled water that is then recondensed and bottled.
  • Artesian water is water from groundwater, spring water, and well water. All these sources come from underground aquifers.
  • Mineral water is groundwater that naturally contains dissolved solvents such as minerals, salts, and gasses. Please note that mineral water is not always natural and is sometimes prepared synthetically.
  • Purified or sterilized water usually comes from any source but the US Pharmacopeia (USP) regulate the standards for purification and sterilization.

Bottled water labels need approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before selling.


Who Regulates Bottled Water?

The FDA regulates bottled water, unlike tap water which the EPA oversees. The FDA’s regulations for bottled water are less stringent than the EPA’s regulations for tap water. These are a few of the things the FDA regulates concerning bottled water:


  • Protecting water from contaminants, such as chemicals and bacteria
  • Using sanitary conditions for bottling, processing, storing, and transporting the water
  • Sampling and testing the source water and final product for contaminants
  • Implementing quality control to protect against microbial and chemical contaminants

Bottled water is generally considered a safe choice for your drinking water. However, some products may carry microplastics, tiny pieces of plastic untraceable by the naked eye. Studies conducted with animals suggest that microplastics disrupt your endocrine system, promote inflammation, and accumulate over time in your liver, intestines, and kidneys. A 2018 study testing 11 popular water bottle products from 9 countries revealed that microplastics are more common than one might think. The study showed that 93% of the 259 bottles tested held microplastics. This isn’t necessarily due to the water but the packaging and bottling process.


Bottled Water Taste

As we mentioned earlier, most people can not truly tell the difference between bottled water and tap water when it comes to taste. However, the taste of bottled water varies depending on the water source and packaging process. For example, mineral water has its own distinct flavor, and carbonated or flavored bottled water offers its own unique taste.


Environmental Impact of Bottled Water

One of bottled water’s biggest drawbacks is its impact on the environment. Treating and bottling the water, paired with transportation and refrigeration, makes bottled water a huge energy sucker. In 2016, bottled water in the United States used 4 billion pounds of plastic.

In addition, disposing of plastic is hard on the environment, especially because only 20% of plastic bottles in the United States end up in recycling. This poses another environmental problem, as plastic bottles release toxins when they degrade.


Expensive Convenience

Studies show that convenience is the biggest reason consumers opt for bottled water over tap water. Bottled water is an easy and readily available option when you’re out and about for the day or traveling. However, you pay for convenience. 

Just one gallon (3.8 liters) of tap water costs $0.005 in the United States. The same amount of bottled water, taken from single-serve water bottles, costs around $9.47. This means that bottled water is more expensive than gasoline and milk!


Bottled Water Summary

Bottled water is very convenient and usually safe to drink. However, it leaves a bigger environmental footprint and is considerably more expensive than tap water. In addition, microplastics pose several concerning health risks.


Which is better?

Which Is Better?

Both tap and bottled water are safe options for staying hydrated. But we think that tap water is usually the best choice! It is cost-friendly, environmentally friendly, and well-regulated. If you aren’t a fan of what is in your tap water, you can still save considerable money and control exactly what comes out of your tap with top-quality water filters. If you need an under-the-sink or whole-house water filtration system in Southwest Florida, call Crystal Clear Water today! We are happy to test your tap water for free and discuss the best option to get your water where you want it!

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Published: March 6, 2023
Author: Crystal Clear Water
Categories : Water Facts