Popularized by Perrier in the late 1970’s, bottled water is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States and is still growing each year. But with the market being saturated with over 700 different brands of this über
popular drink in the United States alone, it’s hard to know what you’re getting each time you grab a bottle. And considering Americans down more than 80 billion gallons of the bottled stuff a year, you should know what you’re buying.
The FDA regulates this industry and classifies it into four separate (but not equal!) categories:
Artesian well water is sourced from a confined rock or sand aquifer that runs into a well. The rock or sand acts as a natural filter as the water comes to the surface. Fiji Natural Artesian Water actually originates in Fiji from the Yaqara aquifer, which evolved from a volcano over millions of years.
Mineral water is from a spring that contains minerals such as salts and sulphur. These minerals are naturally occurring and the FDA prohibits them from being added later. Calistoga Mineral Water is a U.S. brand of mineral water out of Napa Valley, California.
Spring water comes from a natural underground source and flows to the Earth’s surface. You’ve seen the bottles that boast “natural spring water,” and some are truly from springs—but they might not be the springs you pictured. For example, Glacier Mountain Natural Spring comes from New Jersey and Glacier Mountain Bottled is born in Ohio.
Well water comes from dug or drilled holes that contain water from an aquifer. What makes this category different from Artesian well water? Artesian wells are much deeper and the water is filtered naturally.
Bottled Tap Water?
The rumors are true: some bottled water brands are really just tap water. Anywhere from 25 to 45 percent of the water you purchase in the United States is actually tap water. Brands such as Aquafina, Dasani and Glacéau Smartwater bottle up tap water to sell it to you; some may or may not contain added minerals or have been filtered.
You also may be startled to learn that the FDA’s “standard of quality” sets regulations for the maximum level of contaminants allowed in bottled water and this list is over 90 different contaminants long, ranging from chemical to microbial to radiological. To boot, this list and the set levels are nearly identical to the Environmental Protection Agency’s max levels for tap water systems. Paying the extra money when you choose bottled over tap might not be a better choice, it might actually be the same choice.
Think About Alternatives
Most experts agree that using a filter for your taps will minimize or eliminate contaminates. Consider purchasing a filter for your home and a glass water bottle to have on hand when you’re on the go. When choosing bottled water, try to stick to the safest brands like Gerber Pure and Nestle Pure Life. Check the label of your favorite brand of bottled H2O and see how it measures up by the Environmental Working Group. Cheers!