According to some NPO's such as the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism and the Environmental Working Group:

Bottled water is constantly promoted as pure and natural, but research by the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism shows it undergoes an industrial bottling process that actually increases risks of contamination compared to tap water.

The article suggests that the fact bottled water companies are more business oriented than government-regulated water corporations may blur away the truth from consumers:

“It’s suggested that if the company finds any problems that they report the problems, but of course, if you are in business to make money, then you will try to alleviate the problem before you tell anybody about it”.

And this health site claims::

Bottled water is not the healthy option many people think it is. In fact, some bottled water is no less contaminated than ordinary tap water. The plastic bottle it comes in makes matters worse by leaching chemicals into the water, especially if it’s been exposed to heat.

I see no use to cite bottled water companies as they would say anything to sell more bottles. On the other hand, even filtered water is far from being risk-free:

In general, water filters remove only specific types of substances and are labelled for what they will remove, such as chlorine or lead. Water filters do not remove microorganisms; and, are intended for use with water that is known to be microbiologically safe. No single water filter can be used to remove all types of substances from water.


Being more specific, in order to clarify the question:

*but excluding the fancy flavored\vitamin-enhanced ones

Bottled water companies will never admit if your own house tap water is superior, but will pounce on it when it inferior.

  • 2
    This may depend on location. Obviously there are many third world countries that don't have clean tap water. In the US there are differences in water quality based on region (i.e. the tap water in Los Angeles is very low quality compared to other places in the US)
    – Muhd
    Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 4:43
  • 5
    The definition of bottled water is not obvious, for example Aquafina and Dasani, and most bottled water sold in US are purified tap water. On the other hand most bottled water sold in Europe is either mineral water or spring water. Also, the reason people don't drink tap water, aren't contaminants, but the taste. Same reason why "plastic leaching chemicals" is BS, you'd immediately notice that in the taste. That's why bottles for water are made of special kind of plastics, not the ones used for other soft drinks.
    – vartec
    Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 15:49
  • 1
    I would imagine it would vary depending on which tap water and which bottled water. The question is just to broad to give a useful response. If you said Tap water in location "A" and bottled water brand "B" we could compare, but without that who knows
    – Zachary K
    Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 18:33
  • 6
    Before answering, it should be noted that there may be more than one form of bottled water. In the UK, bottles labelled as "Natural Mineral Water" have a named source and consistent mineral content but will be untreated. Other bottles labelled as "Spring Water" are from a named source but may be treated in certain ways. Where as bottles labelled as "Drinking Water" or otherwise might filtered and have chemicals added or removed. Indeed "Drinking Water" might actually be bottled tap water. So when you say botled water, just which bottled water do you mean. Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 11:16
  • 2
    and define "contaminated". It usually means pathogens or toxins, for which there are strict guidelines as to the allowed levels in water (but possibly different limits for tap- and bottled water, I recall a similar story to the one OP mentions where bottled water in London was found to contain more heavy metals than is legal for tapwater there, but was still legal as bottled water).
    – jwenting
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 8:22

2 Answers 2


Speaking about Germany, the health regulations for tap water are somewhat tighter than for bottled water - specifically, they cover more contaminants. But of course both are intended to be perfectly safe to consume.

Some of the tap water regulations are tighter for non-health-related reasons, e.g. the Sodium limit is lower to prevent the water from corroding pipes ("Das Trinkwasser sollte nicht korrosiv wirken"), and the limit for Iron because it could stain washed clothes.

And it doesn't mean that tap water is necessarily superior - apart from the mineral content of mineral water (which is irrelevant if your diet isn't very deficient), sometimes the only way tap water can meet bacteriological limits is through added Chlorine - the amounts are harmless (max. 1.2mg/l) but can have a negative impact on the taste.

  • 1
    Can you add some references to what you say in your answer. 1: health regulations tap water vs bottled water in Germany. 2: That the amounts of added chlorine is harmless. 3: that the sodium limits are there to prevent water from corroding pipes. Those are like the main things you need references on.
    – Wertilq
    Commented May 31, 2013 at 14:52
  • @Wertilq: OK, done. Commented May 31, 2013 at 15:27
  • Great +1! Can you quote the relevant parts and translate them to English too, then your answer is like perfect.
    – Wertilq
    Commented May 31, 2013 at 15:54
  • @Wertilq: the relevant parts are mostly tables... Commented May 31, 2013 at 15:59
  • Copy the relevant values etc and then get the relevant text to it then, quotes are always helpful.
    – Wertilq
    Commented May 31, 2013 at 16:48

at least in italy, the definition of legally drinkable tap water is crushingly tight: bottled "mineral" water can get away with much more minerals and metals. In particular, some mineral waters would have too many dissolved minerals in them to be ok as tap water. Recent tests show that tap water is just as good as bottled water http://www.ilfattoalimentare.it/acqua-test-altroconsumo.html


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