We learn early on that water is H2O. In other words: hydrogen and oxygen. But when you buy a bottle of water, you often get more than just good ole H2O. Turn that bottle around and you’ll see that the list of ingredients is often above and beyond a simple listing of “water.” There can be magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride, potassium bicarbonate and salt, all part of some of the common additives in big brands of bottled water.
So why does bottled water have more than just water in it? First off, none of these ingredients are cause for health concerns. According to TIME, “the additives being put into water are those naturally found in water and the quantities of these additives are likely too small to be of much significance.”
It’s a question of flavor. “If you had pure water by itself, it doesn’t have any taste,” Bob Mahler, Soil Science and Water Quality professor at the University of Idaho told TIME. “So companies that sell bottled water will put in calcium, magnesium or maybe a little bit of salt.”
In other words, to sell bottled water, companies have to ensure that the water tastes like the stuff we get out of the tap. Which raises the question: shouldn’t we just drink water from the tap?
Our bottled water addiction is an expensive one, which is of course why the bottled water companies stay in the game. A glass of tap water costs a few pennies. A bottle of water, however, is going to run you a few dollars, and about 90% of that is going to the packaging, cap, label, etc. In other words, you’re paying mostly for the bottle and not the water itself. And while the marketing claims of a bottle of water may lead you to believe that the water comes from a pristine spring, chances are it’s the same stuff that’s coming out of your tap, just more expensive.
According to the NRDC, “Government and industry estimates indicate that about 25 percent to 30 percent of the bottled water sold in the United States comes from a city’s or town’s tap water — sometimes further treated, sometimes not. One IBWA expert reportedly estimated in 1992 that 40 percent of the bottled water was derived from tap water. The percentage of bottled water derived from tap water may be rising, because some major bottlers have begun to sell new brands of water derived from city tap water.”
In other words: save your money and reach for the tap instead.
Photo Credit: liz west
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