Bottled Water vs. Filtered Water: Which Is Better for Drinking?

Finding the right kind of water seems like a bit of a silly task, doesn’t it? Surely water is water! Unfortunately, that is not the case. There are many different types of water: bottled, purified, distilled, ionized, filtered, and more. Bottled water and filtered water are two of the most popular and most commonly used forms of water, but they each pose different benefits and different challenges.

Understanding Water: What Water is Best?

The human body is over 60% water and requires that amount to be replenished daily to survive. To provide the body with the most possible nutrients it needs to succeed and thrive, the type of water you drink is very important. Each subtype of water provides different benefits or advantages depending on the way it was prepared and the nutrients contained inside it.

  • Tap Water

Tap water is the classic water that comes out of your faucets when you turn on the tap. This is usually controlled by a local authority, or through private sinks or pumps. Tap water can vary widely in quality and be heavily tainted by local groundwater or other soil or chemical compounds. Tap water is, therefore, best for cooking, cleaning, and laundry but perhaps not for drinking. A recent report (published in 2019) cautions homeowners that drinking tap water could expose them to cancer due to the heavy presence of carcinogenic compounds.

  • Bottled Water

Bottled water is easily available and portable which makes it a great option for most people. You can easily pick it up at stores or gas stations or even buy bottled it in bulk for home use. The convenience of bottled water is unparalleled but the price can stack up over time. Overreliance on bottled water is also one of the biggest contributors to plastic waste that is wreaking havoc on our beloved environment.

  • Filtered Water

Filtered water is water that has been run through some kind of filtration system that is designed to remove pathogens and other contaminants. There are different types of water filters ranging from pitcher filters (for filtering small amounts of drinking water) to whole-house filters (for filtering all the water that enters your house). Different technologies are also employed by the different brands but reverse osmosis is the most commonly used technique. For instance, Starbucks uses a 3-stage RO system to filter their water which is the secret behind its sweetness.

  • Distilled Water

Distilled water is a type of filtered water but it differs from filtered water in that in addition to removing the contaminants, minerals are removed too. It is therefore the purest form of water. However, it has a flat taste (owing to the removal of all minerals). It might not be a good idea to drink water that has no minerals in it because some minerals like calcium and magnesium are essential for the body. Also, the lack of minerals in the distilled water gives it a high affinity for these minerals so it might suck some important minerals from your body.

  • Hydrogen Water

Hydrogen water is specially formulated water that has additional hydrogen molecules added to it. Some studies have shown that adding the extra hydrogen molecules increases the water’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Hydrogen water comes in two forms – you can buy bottled hydrogen water or you can buy hydrogen water tablets which you then drop in your water bottle for the addition of the hydrogen molecules. Here is a link to some good hydrogen tablets that we found on Amazon.

  • Alkaline Water

Alkalinity has to do with the pH of the water. Normal drinking water has a pH of 7 which means it is neutral (neither acidic nor alkaline). It is believed in some quarters that raising the pH levels of water to make it alkaline can help neutralize the acidity in the body. The research on alkaline water is still scanty so it might be better to stick to normal filtered water for the time being. Besides, according to EPA guidelines, the pH for drinking water should be in the range of 6.5-8.5.

How does water get filtered?

Filtered water is one of the most common types of water choices, and can be found in homes thanks to home filtration systems and even sometimes in bottled water. The following are some of the ways water is filtered.

  • Activated Carbon Filters

Activated carbon filters are some of the most common household water filters available in homes today. These types of filters rely on activated carbon granules (known as active carbon or AC) and charcoal to filter out impurities. The water is run through these activated carbon granules, and any impurities or are absorbed by the carbon, leaving filtered and purified water. These filters are regularly replaced to ensure that they’re clean and allowing the most possible water to flow freely.

  • Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis is a technique that forces water through a fine membrane under high pressure. The water passes through the membrane while the contaminants like pathogens and other harmful substances are trapped by the membrane.  It’s the same idea as running sand through a sifter to find the shells inside, only here the sand is actually purified water that can then be safe for human consumption. Reverse osmosis filters are very popular because they eliminate 99.9% of bacteria as well as other impurities.

  • Ion Exchange

Ion exchange is another type of water filtration system that purifies water by removing “hardness” or limescale from the entire water system. Ion exchange filters are built to split atoms to form ions. These ions are trapped and later transformed into pure ions, which are released back into the water. The bad chemicals or compounds are absorbed and remade into good chemicals thereby purifying your water and filtering out the hard lime that can trickle into your water source.

  • Distillation

Distillation is one of the simplest ways to purify water. The process of distillation entails boiling water down into pure steam and then capturing the steam in a cool container to turn the steam back to water. Because of the different boiling and evaporation points of water and the contaminants therein, the steam captured will be pure water while the heavy metals and other contaminants will be left behind in solid form. The result is pure water that is safe for drinking. The main demerit of this method is that it will also rid the water of essential minerals like calcium and magnesium.

Is it cheaper to buy bottled water or use a filter?

One of the reasons why people fear installing a water filter is the costs. But all factors considered water filtration systems are actually very affordable. If you are on a budget, you can just use a pitcher filter which goes for well under $50 but if you have some more wiggle room, you can install a whole-hose filtration system which shouldn’t cost you more than $1,000. Besides, installing a water filter might be cheaper than relying on bottled water. For instance, the average person spends $100 a year on bottled water. For a household of 5, that comes to $500 each year. You can easily find an inexpensive filtration system that will cost less than that (Here is a link to a buying guide with the best inexpensive water filters for any budget). Buying filtered water systems is definitely the cheaper choice here.

Is drinking filtered water better than tap water?

Filtered water is safer and better than tap water because it ensures a more thorough standard of contaminant removal. While the treatment facilities do a great job of treating water, it has to travel through plumbing before it gets to your tap. This exposes it to all sorts of contamination. Studies have shown that piped water could easily get contaminated with sewage water before it gets to your house. Additionally, water could also get contaminated by bacteria, led, and other contaminants in your plumbing. If you want to be absolutely sure of your water quality, it is best to pass it through a water filter.

Bottled Water vs. Filtered Water: Final Verdict

Bottled water has its advantages. It’s convenient and easy to handle. But the bottled water is only as good as the company bottling it. Most bottled water is usually purified through reverse osmosis systems or some other mechanism. However, you have to confirm because not all bottled water is equal. But as we have seen, you can install your water filter at home and have great tasting water that is 100% safe for only a fraction of the cost. So, all factors considered, filtered water is indeed better than bottled water