Is Bottled Water Tap Water in Disguise?

Is Bottled Water Tap Water in Disguise?

In the debate about bottled water, people usually land on one of two sides. Those who believe bottled water is nothing but repackaged tap water, and others who believe bottled water is the vastly superior choice. Are you on the fence about the legitimacy of bottled water? Let’s answer the question: Is bottled water really tap water?

While some bottled water brands source their water from other natural sources, at least 50% of manufacturers in the USA use filtered municipal (town supply) tap water. In blind tests, tap water and bottled water from all sources have proven to be indistinguishable in terms of taste, safety, and nutritional content.

There you have it. A huge percentage of all bottled water is really from the tap, and if you include foreign bottling companies, that number grows even higher.

Ready to learn more? Keep reading!

Check out my articles on the 9 types of bottled water and Eliminating PFAS from Drinking Water.

Are Tap Water and Bottled Water the Same?

There is no single answer to the question, “is bottled water tap water?” since it depends on each company’s individual sourcing practices and labeling policies. However, it’s fair to say that a lot of bottled water is tap water, including some of America’s best-selling brands like Dasani and Aquafina.

  • In the USA, around half of all bottled water manufacturers use tap water.
  • Studies show consumers cannot tell the difference between tap water and bottled water in blind testing.
  • Despite public perception, tap water is as safe to drink as bottled water in most places in the US.

Read my article on the brands of bottled water that use reverse osmosis.

Is Bottled Water Healthier than Tap Water?

Despite what the bottled water manufacturers would have people believe, drinking tap water is just as safe as bottled water.

Bottled water is often marketed as a healthier alternative to tap water and has become a popular choice for consumers. However, in many cases, bottled water is simply tap water that has been treated through processes such as filtration or purification. The health benefits of bottled water and tap water are the same.

In the US, the FDA requires companies to list their sources of bottled water on the label, so consumers can determine whether or not it is from a public drinking source.

It can be difficult for consumers to know what they are buying unless they research each company’s individual labeling practices and product information. Sometimes, however, the labeling may mislead or be unclear. Terms like:

  • Spring water or mineral water
  • Companies may advertise “spring” or “mineral” waters listing no specific sources– this often means that they are using municipal sources like lakes and rivers instead.
  • Purified
  • They may use terms like “purified,” which do not necessarily let the consumer know whether the source is from a municipal source– it could be from another type of a natural source like groundwater, or they simply may mean the water has been filtered.
  • Pure, clean, glacial
  • Without even making any claims, the descriptive language used can lead consumers to believe their water is from a source other than the tap.

Consumers should take time to understand where their bottled water comes from to make informed decisions about their purchases.

What are the Pros and Cons of Bottled Water?

Bottled water certainly has its uses, but it definitely has a few problems.

Generally, people enjoy the convenience and portability of bottled water, and it is essential in places where public supply is unsafe. However, the environmental damage of plastic waste and the elevated price of bottled water are significant issues for some consumers.

Here are some pros and cons of bottled water.


  • Convenience
  • Bottled water is readily available in stores, gas stations, and vending machines, so it’s easy to pick up a chilled bottle wherever you are.
  • Bottled water is portable
  • Bottled water is convenient to bring along during outdoor activities such as camping or hiking. There might not always be access to clean drinking sources, and bottled water can provide safe hydration when there isn’t a tap nearby.
  • Bottled water is essential in places the town supply is not safe
  • The water crisis, and the ongoing lack of a safe water supply in Flint, Michigan, proves that bottled water is essential for some communities.


  • The cost
  • It can be up to 2,000 times more expensive than tap water, which makes it an unaffordable option for many people.
  • Its environmental impact
  • Plastic bottles take hundreds of years to decompose and produce large amounts of non-biodegradable waste if not recycled correctly. This waste can then end up in landfills or oceans, where it contributes to pollution and damages natural habitats.

Is Bottled Water a Scam

Consumers are not only paying for something that costs much more than regular drinking water but also contributing to environmental waste due to plastic bottles ending up in landfills and oceans across the globe.

Some people believe that the bottled water industry is misleading its customers. Bottled water contains the same ingredients as what comes out of household taps and costs up to 2000 times more per gallon than regular tap water. Americans spend about $15 billion annually on bottled water, yet most have access to clean, cheap water at home.

This leaves consumers not only paying for something that costs much more than regular drinking water but also contributes to environmental waste due to plastic bottles ending up in landfills and oceans across the globe.

Bottled water is often advertised as being cleaner or healthier than tap water, yet no scientific evidence has been found to support the claim that bottled water is superior to tap in terms of safety and quality.

Whether or not you believe bottled water is a scam will depend on your own personal assessment; however, many people, including scientists and researchers, have concluded that it is.

Are There Any Better Alternatives to Bottled Water?

There are some excellent alternatives to bottled water.

Suitable alternatives to buying bottled water are drinking straight tap water or using a home purification or filtration system. Both are excellent ways to hydrate safely without the expense and environmental impact of purchasing bottled water.

Tap water may be the most economical and healthy option

  • Tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States and is subject to strict testing standards.
  • Tap water quality can vary depending on where you live, but it generally offers a cost-effective way to stay hydrated without having to worry about contamination or quality issues.
  • Opting for tap water over bottled help reduce plastic waste since it eliminates hundreds of individual plastic bottles from going into landfills each year.

Try a home water purification or filtration system

  • If you simply prefer the taste of bottled water, another option would be home-filtered or purified drinking water.
  • While there is an initial expense to setting up a home system up, the cost savings over time will reap benefits in the long run.
  • You can ensure your entire household is consuming tasty, purified water.
  • You can enjoy your water with no plastic waste and environmental awareness.

So, is bottled water tap water? Not in all cases. However, a lot of the brands repackage tap water. It’s time to take another look at the label before you make your next purchase or think about considering a bottle-free alternative!

Boch Richard

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.

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