Home Water Treatment vs. Bottled Water – The Final Argument

While I’ve been on this rant about bottled water, it’s been pointed out to me that many people prefer bottled water because of its taste. Well, as any water treatment professional would tell you, the taste of all water has to do with the way it is treated and the quality of its source, including its natural mineral content. Most bottled water comes from a ground water source, where water quality varies less from day to day, or is treated and immediately bottled. Bottled water from a dedicated source or plant may have a more consistent taste than tap water, which mostly comes from surface sources and must travel through pipes to reach homes.

One of the key taste differences between tap water and bottled water is due to how the water is disinfected. Tap water that does not run through a home water treatment system may be disinfected with chlorine, chloramine, ozone, or ultraviolet light to kill disease-causing germs. Public water systems use these disinfectants chlorine and chloramine because they are effective and inexpensive, and they continue to disinfect as water travels through pipes to homes and businesses.

Bottled water that is disinfected is typically disinfected using ozone or other technologies such as ultraviolet light or chlorine dioxide. Ozone is preferred by bottlers, though it is more expensive than chlorine, because it does not leave a taste and because bottlers do not need to worry about maintaining disinfectant in water sealed in a container. Untreated water, whether from a bottle or from a tap, will have the characteristic taste of its source.

Some bottled waters contain fluoride, and some do not. Fluoride can occur naturally in source waters used for bottling or is frequently added to publically treated water, now a bit controversial. Most bottled waters contain fluoride at levels that are less than optimal for good oral health so I wonder why it’s added anyway.

Now here’s the questions I always think to consider.  If it’s just the taste you care about and you don’t use the bottled water for cooking, maybe it is worth the cost because bottled water is definitely cheaper than soft drinks. Usually that’s the choice of drinking water instead of Coke or Gatoraid. Smart choice.

However, if you are concerned about the quality of the water as well as taste, don’t fool yourself on the quality or long-term economics of using bottled water.  Your body absorbs water (and all the chemicals, minerals, and contaminants therein) whenever you brush your teeth, wash your hands, take a shower or bath.  Hard water can wreak havoc on your water-use appliances such as the washing machine and dishwasher. If your home water quality is not what it should be, sometimes it is much more than a matter of taste. It’s your health and the health of every member of your family that suffers from poor water quality.

I know I’m beginning to sound like a zealot, but just call me your friendly, and concerned, water treatment professional and friend. One call is all it takes to schedule a free water quality testing and consultation.  We’ll figure out what is in your water and what it might take to get it to the safest, and tastiest, state for all the family to enjoy.

What will it cost?  There are so many factors and options that I can’t really answer that. I will say installing a home water treatment system will cost you more than one year of buy 40 gallons of bottled water.  However, over time, the investment pays for itself in daily health, taste, and grocery