Bottle vs. Tap: Which Water is Better?

Bottle vs. Tap: Which Water is Better?

Did you know tap water meets stricter quality and safety parameters than bottled water? In this article, we are going to explore bottle vs. tap water and provide information to help you make a more informed decision. We will focus on where your water is sourced, the quality and safety regulations each type of water must adhere to, the cost comparison, and environmental concerns.

Water Source

In many cases, the bottled water you drink may originate from a tap. Consumer Reports maintains a list of many bottled water quality reports by brand name. You will be surprised to find that most of the water labeled as “purified” or “drinking” is sourced from a municipality, AKA “tap” water. “Spring” water originates from a natural underground source. Your water bottle label should provide the source of water used.

Environmental Concerns

You may hop into your electric vehicle and feel good about your responsible environmental choice against fossil fuels, but if there’s bottled water in the cup holder, think again. Earth-policy.org reports that it takes 17 million barrels of oil to produce enough plastic water bottles to meet America’s annual demand.  Also, according to the Container Recycling Institute, 86 percent of plastic water bottles used in the United States end up in the garbage or roadside as litter.

Health and Safety

Bottled water marketing portrays a message of purity, freshness, and health. Bottle labels feature snow-capped mountain peaks and gentle streams printed with words like smart or life. True, bottled water may be safe to drink, but is it safer or better than tap?

Bottled water is regulated as a food product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA does not require bottled water companies to use certified laboratories for water quality testing or to report test results. The FDA does require bottled water labels to list ingredients and nutritional information.

The table below from safewater.org shows the disinfection, filtering, and testing frequency regulations for bottle and tap water.

Water Comparison


There is little dispute that tap water is cheaper than bottled water. Some figures have the cost of bottled water 2000 times greater than tap.


Tap water is better from a financial and environmental standpoint. Plastic bottles don’t pile up in the landfill, instead money piles up in your pocket by saving 2000 times the cost of bottled water. Tap water is also at least as clean and safe as bottled water and must adhere to more strict and rigorous testing and regulations than bottled water.

Bottled water still has its place, though. In instances where safe water supply is not available or has been restricted due to natural or manmade causes, bottled water is a convenient, readily available alternative. Just don’t be confused to think that bottled water is far superior or a smarter choice than tap water. It’s hard to feel smart paying 2000 times more for a resource that is marketed as convenient and healthy when a source that is just as good is as close as your kitchen sink.