There’s nothing like ice cold water to quench your thirst, but with so many bottled water options on the market, how do you know which is the best? Sip a few different brands of bottled water, and you can tell they aren’t all created the same. The flavor, after taste, ability to quench your thirst and feeling in your mouth is different from one type or one brand of bottled water to another.
Sorting out the differences can take a little skill and some attention to your own personal preferences. Knowing the differences in types of water and the distinct characteristics of certain brands can help you narrow down the options. Whether you’re looking for the healthiest bottled water, the cleanest bottled water or just one that tastes great, we’ll help you find just the right bottled water for you.
Spring, Mineral, Purified: What’s the Best Bottled Water?
Have you ever wandered through the bottled water aisle and wondered what the difference is between purified and distilled, spring or artesian, sparkling or mineral? It can all be confusing. After all, water is water, right? Not necessarily. Each type has distinct differences that can greatly affect the flavor.
Knowing what the different types of water are can help you determine what the best bottled water is for you. Some people prefer spring water, while others drink only artesian. Some like the mineral-free flavor of purified water. It’s often a matter of personal taste.
Let’s take a closer look at the different types of bottled water you might see. Some labels refer to the origin of the water, while others describe the process of cleaning or preparing the water. Here are some common options:
- Spring water: As the name suggests, spring water comes from natural springs that form underground. The water then flows naturally to the Earth’s surface, where it is collected for bottling. Another collection option is to tap into the aquifer underground that feeds the natural spring. Spring water typically contains lots of minerals, which gives it a distinct taste. It is filtered multiple times, and spring water doesn’t contain chlorine, so it often has a crisp, clean flavor. Some brands of spring water rely on natural filtering through the ground, which may include volcanic rock, granite or other types of rock. Brands that are considered spring water include Evian and Mountain Valley Spring Water.
- Artesian water: This is another word to describe where or how the water is collected. Artesian water comes from wells that collect water from a confined aquifer, underground rock or sand that contains water. Some people believe artesian water has a lower risk of contamination because of the confined aquifer source. Fiji Natural Artesian Water and Voss Artesian Water fit into this category.
- W.S.: This three-letter abbreviation stands for “public water supply” or municipal water supply. In other words, this type of bottled water comes from the tap. The water is typically filtered and treated through various processes to improve the flavor and ensure the safety of the water.
- Purified water: Instead of referring to the source of the water, this term describes how the water is prepared. It can come from any source. What sets it apart is the treatment it undergoes to remove chemicals and pathogens. Methods used include deionization, reverse osmosis and distillation. No matter what process is used, the water must have no more than 10 parts per million of dissolved solids to meet the standards for purified water. With most minerals removed, this type of bottled water often tastes very refreshing and has a light feeling to it. Purified water is a good option when you want to feel very hydrated, and two brands in this category are Aquafina and Dasani.
- Distilled water: Distilled water is also processed to kill microbes and to remove minerals. It is a type of purified water distinguished by the specific method of removing things from the water. The water is boiled so it turns to steam, leaving behind the impurities. The steam is then recondensed into water and bottled. Distilled water may have a flat taste to it because of the lack of minerals. An example is Glaceau Smart Water.
- Mineral water: This type of bottled water naturally contains minerals, which are left in the water instead of being removed. To qualify, the water must be from a groundwater source and naturally have at least 250 parts per million of dissolved solids. The minerals and trace elements must naturally occur in the water when it comes from its source to qualify as mineral water. Found Still Natural Mineral Water and Hildon Water are examples of mineral water.
- Sparkling water: You may think that sparkling water is just regular water with carbonation added, but it actually must come out of its source with natural carbonation to qualify as sparkling water. Some natural carbonation is sometimes lost during processing. The manufacturer can add more carbon dioxide to the water after processing to equal the amount it had when it came out of its natural source, but the amount of carbonation can’t exceed what the water naturally had. Perrier is a popular brand of sparkling water.
It’s a Matter of Taste
Finding the best tasting bottled water is often a matter of personal preference. Just like with a favorite bottle of wine or with the best type of chocolate, you won’t always agree with everyone else. You may even have multiple favorites in each category. Your best friend may swear by the flavor of Evian while you prefer the flavor of Aquafina. For this reason, it’s nearly impossible to crown a winner in the best tasting category that everyone would agree on.
Sometimes choosing the best bottled water all comes down to a taste test. You may find you have a preference for spring water, purified water or mineral water, each of which has a distinct flavor. The amount of total dissolved solids, another name for the total amount of all the minerals in the water, affects the flavor.
A bottled water with very low amounts of total dissolved solids has a crisp flavor with a sharp edge. It may also be described as a clean flavor. Purified water is a type of water with a low number of total dissolved solids. If you prefer little flavor, this is the way to go.
Higher amounts of total dissolved solids add more flavor to the water. Spring and mineral water tend to have this increased flavor due to the minerals they contain. High sulfates in mineral water also contribute to the distinct flavor.
But even different brands within a certain type of water taste different, so don’t expect all spring water brands or mineral water brands to taste the same. Everything from the source of the water to the processing can affect the final flavor. Here are some top-rated bottled water options based on flavor:
- Voss Artesian Water: Voss often ranks high on the taste scale. Sourced from an artesian well, this water has a strong mineral flavor.
- Mountain Valley Spring Water: Gathered from a spring in Arkansas, this bottled water option is a popular choice with many famous people, including presidents and athletes. It also has a strong mineral composition, with a rich and refreshing flavor.
- Fiji Natural Artesian Water: The mineral composition of Fiji water includes high levels of silica, which lends softness to the smooth flavor. It doesn’t leave a heavy feeling or aftertaste in your mouth like some bottled water brands. It also goes untouched by human hands.
Source Differences: Why It Matters Where Your Water Comes From
The source of the water often has a strong impact on the flavor, especially if you prefer spring or mineral water. The mineral makeup of the spring location might change the flavor, for example. The prevalent minerals in the ground near the spring source leach into the water, leaving behind a distinct flavor or feel of the water because spring and mineral waters don’t filter out the minerals.
Here are a few brands where source plays a role in the flavor and often helps create the signature taste:
- Hildon Natural Mineral Water: Popular in the UK, Hildon water comes from rainfall that filters through chalky hills in Hampshire. The chalk naturally filters the water and leaves behind high levels of calcium. The water is low in sodium with a balanced, pure flavor. The underwater aquifer where the water is collected is located at the Hildon estate.
- Saint Geron Mineral Water: This water comes from the Auvergne region in France and is known as “the queen of mineral waters.” It has naturally high levels of magnesium and calcium and has a light quality to it.
- Waiakea Hawaiian Volcanic Water: Hailing from Mauna Loa in Hawaii, this water filters through volcanic rock, resulting in an alkaline water naturally high in electrolytes and minerals. The resulting flavor has a hint of sweetness to it.
- Evian Natural Spring Water: Evian is another French-sourced bottled water, this time hailing from a mountain tunnel, which keeps the water at 52.88 degrees Fahrenheit. Melted snow and rain travel through glacial sand surrounded by clay, reducing pollution. This natural filtration also creates a mineral flavor in the water.
- Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water: This German bottled water filters through volcanic rock, picking up minerals and carbonic acid along the way, offering a good source of minerals your body needs. Despite the mineral content, Gerolsteiner has a relatively neutral flavor and a refreshing quality. The company follows strict protocols to ensure the purity of this sparkling mineral water.
Just like the flavor of different bottled waters, the price point varies as well. You’ll often pay more for bottled water from a remote or exotic source. For example, high-end spring waters collected from specific springs often come with a higher price tag. In many cases, more expensive waters have a better flavor than cheaper bottled water. However, some less expensive brands also rank high on the flavor and quality charts, so don’t base your decision on price alone. Instead, choose a bottled water that fits your budget and also pleases your taste buds.
Drinking Your Personal Beliefs
To some people, water is water. A bottle is a bottle. It doesn’t matter where it came from or how it was produced. But others have certain beliefs or standards that can help determine the best brand of bottled water for the individual.
If you don’t like the idea of plastic bottles, several bottled water brands use glass bottles or have the option of either plastic or glass bottles. A few examples include:
- Mountain Valley Spring Water
- Hildon Natural Mineral Water
- Evian Natural Spring Water
- Panna Spring Water
- Rocchetta Naturale
- Saratoga Non-Sparkling Water
- Badoit Sparkling Mineral Water
- Pellegrino Sparkling Mineral Water
Another issue with bottled water is the sustainability practices of the company. American Summits is an example of a bottled water company that pays attention to its impact on the environment. The company collects water in a way that minimizes the impact on the surrounding area. The water is sourced and bottled in Wyoming. American Summits water also comes in glass bottles made in North America that are completely recyclable.
Waiakea is another brand that has a strong commitment to protecting the environment. It is certified carbon neutral, the first Hawaiian bottled water to achieve this status. Waiakea also donates water to communities in Africa and other areas that don’t have easy access to clean water.
Water is a healthy beverage choice, no matter what type. It benefits the body from head to toe. Just a few of the benefits include:
But some types and brands of water have an extra edge when it comes to health benefits. The pH level and the amount of minerals in the water are two measures of potential health value of bottled water.
A pH level between 7.4 and 7.6 offers a fairly neutral water that matches the pH of human blood. Poland Springs, Fiji and San Pellegrino all fall within this pH range. Other water varieties have higher pH levels, and some people believe these alkaline water types with a pH of around 8 or 9 offer additional health benefits. Essentia Water and Evamor Natural Alkaline Artesian Water are examples of alkaline water. Water with a lower pH level is considered acidic, which some people discourage, as acidity may have a negative effect on the body.
Mineral content is another factor. The body needs minerals for optimal functioning. Choosing a mineral water, which naturally contains minerals, is a smart choice if you want the benefits of minerals while you hydrate your body. Perrier and San Pellegrino are two examples of mineral water with high levels of calcium, magnesium and other minerals your body needs. Spring water often contains minerals as well. Purified water generally has low mineral content because the minerals are removed during purification.
Which Water Should You Sip?
Finding the best bottled water for you all comes down to your preferences. Taste is a big factor. If you don’t like the flavor, you’re less likely to drink the water and enjoy the benefits it brings. But the source, purification process, health benefits and price all weigh in on the decision to varying degrees.
If you’re still not sure or you want to explore the options for each type, check out our selection of bottled waters. With an assortment of artesian water, spring water, mineral water, sparkling water and more, we can keep you hydrated without the need to run to the store.