The Best Bottled Waters
At Retego Labs, we spend a lot of time talking to people about their water. In general, we run into two different groups of people. One group is typically the older generation who has been drinking water from the tap their whole lives. They don’t typically worry about the water they consume, because they’ve been “fine so far.” The other group is typically younger, and has no trust in tap water at all. They seem to think that tap water is poison, no matter what, and they only drink bottled water. Meeting so many different people who generally fall into these two categories, brought us to question:
What makes good water?
This led us down a rabbit hole on Google. We discovered an article published by Consumer Reports titled “What’s Really In Your Bottled Water?” They had tested 47 different types of bottled water, and for each product they tested, they took two to four samples. The test focused on four heavy metals; arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. They also tested for 30 different PFAS chemicals - which pose special concerns because they linger in the environment forever. Learn more about PFAS. We wanted to take the Consumer Reports article a little further, so we conducted our own tests!
Bottled water generally comes in three varieties. The first one is just natural water that comes from a spring or other natural source. The natural water gets thrown in a bottle and sold. This type of water typically has enough minerals to control the pH and alkalinity even after it’s been transported for many miles in a truck or through pipes. The second is purified water. This is water in which they’ll usually use a filtration method or other purification method to make sure the water is safe to drink. Sometimes during this process, there is a loss of minerals, or an addition of different kinds of chemicals to aid in the purification process. The third variety is where the water is highly treated. It’s usually demineralized and sometimes there are minerals added back in to control the pH and the taste. Occasionally this variety is carbonated. The labels on these bottles will usually read “Purified by Distillation” or “Reverse Osmosis.”
You can have bottled-water quality in your home. All day. Every day.
How do we know bottled water is actually safe? If it comes from a natural source and is unpurified, could it have things in it that are naturally occurring? Short answer - yes. Bottled water is regulated by the FDA. So they have to make sure that there are no heavy metals, contaminants or bacteria. But the water that comes to your home from the municipalities is regulated by the EPA. The FDA doesn’t require the water to be tested for bottled water nearly as much as the EPA requires the municipalities to test the water that comes to your home. The EPA regulations are much more strict for water safety. Typically the EPA requires municipalities to test multiple times each day, where the FDA may require tests as few as once per year. Water that comes to your house typically has chlorine in it to kill multiple kinds of bacteria and other contaminants. Bottled water doesn’t have that. Now once the water gets to your home, you don’t want to drink the chlorine, so having a filtration system in your home is ideal. Bottom line here - bottled water is generally safe. It’s simply regulated differently than the water that comes to your home.
So, what makes the BEST drinking water?
Is my tap water better than bottled water? Is bottled water better for me than tap water? Is it all just about taste? Well, if you’re going to be drinking the water, taste is probably the most important factor. That usually means that the pH is pretty close to neutral, and you’re looking for some of the hardness minerals and some of the other anions that contribute to the alkalinity of the water. A lot of that changes for different people and it can also change depending on your situation. Are you drinking while you’re eating? Are you drinking purely for pleasure? Or are you drinking because you’re very thirsty after a good workout at the gym? Are you hot? Your individual perception of what you want in the water changes a little bit. But generally, what you want is a good balance of minerals. Basically, when you choose bottled water, you are choosing taste.
All of the different brands of bottled water make some sort of claim that their water is the best because… the pH is at a certain level, it’s natural and untouched, it’s remineralized. All claiming to be the most healthy. Let’s talk a little about pH. Alkalinity is usually a big sell for bottled water. Some of the bottled water that we tested claimed to have an alkalinity of 8.5. When we tested the water, some of them actually did maintain their pH level of 8.5, while others actually measured a pH of 4 or 4.5. That’s because, even though as the water left the factory and the pH was 8.5, things can happen in transport that change the pH. The temperature of the water changes and can affect the pH. The water can be exposed to certain gasses that change the pH. Also, When you take a lot of the minerals out of the water through Reverse Osmosis, you have removed the water’s ability to buffer its pH. So, the water leaves the factory with a pH of 8.5, but since it has no ability to maintain that pH, it’ll take on the pH of whatever container it’s in. Water is always trying to balance itself - it will take in whatever it can around it if it’s “hungry,” or it will leave behind what it doesn’t need (scale). Another factor to consider is, what does our body do with Alkaline water? Are there real health benefits? Interestingly, our esophagus is designed specifically to not leak water, minerals or nutrients. This is to protect our bloodstream from things that haven’t been digested properly. As soon as the water hits your stomach, the large reserve of gastric acids changes the pH almost immediately to 2.5 - 3 to help aid in the digestion process.
It would only be fair to add here that through all of the testing we did, even though the water didn’t meet the pH claims, about half were good and very balanced waters. We found no biological contaminants or issues in the way they were treated in the plants. It’s most likely very rare that there would be biological contaminants in bottled water. However, we did find that the water that went through all the treatment and reverse osmosis processes, there’s no actual benefit to your body. Sure, it will hydrate you. But you won’t get any of the minerals that you get from nature. The best water to drink is balanced water.
Another thing to consider is that we use water for MANY different reasons - most of those reasons are not for drinking. If you’re spending money on bottled water or any other drinking water solutions, why not spend the same amount of money to balance ALL of your water? If you like a certain kind of bottled water - Smart Water, Fiji, Poland Spring etc, we can make your water taste like that - plus have the added benefit of having all the minerals and nutrients your body needs.