The Canadian and American bottled water industries have been growing rapidly over the past few decades. A boom in consumption has led bottled water to become a staple in most North American households. We all know the negative impacts that single-use plastic bottles have on ecosystems around the world. But it’s important to remember that, not only are they bad for the environment, they’re also bad for your health. Bottled water companies want you to believe that their water is unique; however, they leave out key information such as where the water is sourced from and how it is treated. Most bottled water companies use municipal sources of water to fill their bottles, sometimes containing chlorine, and which are often highly acidic. Here at Santevia we set out to conduct an experiment that will show you how acidic the most popular bottled water brands really are.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) conducted a study to analyze the websites and labels of popular bottled water brands to see where the water came from, how the water was treated, and whether test results were published. Unfortunately, the study revealed that 18% of bottled water companies do not tell you where they source their water, and 32% of companies do not disclose anything about the treatment processes of their water.
We tested out 10 different brands of bottled water that we found in our local grocery store or gas station. Here is what we found:
Dasani was, unfortunately, one of the worst bottles of water we tested. With a pH of 6.4, Dasani is one of the most acidic bottles on the market. Not a big surprise, considering it is owned by the infamous Coca-Cola.
While Dasani’s product label does not provide information regarding its water source, it does indicate that the water is treated using reverse osmosis. That being said, if you visit their website to gather further information, it is rather sparse. Their Frequently Asked Questions page indicates that water is sourced from “the local water supply” and “a special blend of minerals” is added. They fail to specify what the “local” water supply is or what minerals they add to the water. They received an extremely poor rating on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) assessment of bottled waters.
If you are out and looking for an alkaline and transparent bottled water option, Dasani is definitely not our recommended choice.
Aquafina, owned by PepsiCo, had a yellow outcome with our pH test kit, indicating a pH of a mere 6.3. This makes Aquafina the most acidic bottled water that we were able to find in our local gas stations and food courts. In a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group, Pepsi’s Aquafina received a rating similar to ours. The company failed to provide any useful information regarding sourcing or treatment of the water. The label indicates that their water originates from public water sources and is treated with HydRO-7. However, public water sources cannot be identified, and there is no explanation regarding their treatment process.
Looking for more information regarding their sourcing and treatment processes? It may be hard to come by. Most of Aquafina’s bottles do not provide any contact information, and their website and customer service team fail to provide any additional information. Even though their label asks, “Product Questions? Call 1-800-432-2632” their representatives tell you that their water quality tests are not for the public. We would definitely remove this brand from the grocery list in the future.
8. Voss Spring Water From Norway
Not only did this 500mL bottle make a dent in our wallets, but it also made a dent in our alkaline lifestyle. Marketed as “spring water” this brand offered a low pH of about 6.6. While it isn’t the worst culprit, it is most certainly an example of why you can’t always trust what is on the packaging. And speaking of packaging, the label didn’t tell us much about how they treat this water – or how to contact them if we have any questions.
7. Smart Water
Smart Water may not be as smart as you’d think. 591mL of this water offers a yellow reading in our pH Test Kit, and our pH meters give us a reading of about 7.2. That being said, this brand does pass our transparency test. Smart Water’s website indicates that the water is procured from several different water treatment plants. They also reveal a fairly extensive treatment process which includes: VOCs, chlorine, additional impurities removal, ultraviolet light disinfection, re-mineralization, and ozone gas purification.
Like some of the other bottles we tested, Smart Water has a pH comparable to tap water. You would be better off carrying your own Tritan Bottle or Glass Bottle with you to obtain clean, alkaline water.
6. Nestle Pure Life
Although Nestlé wasn’t as bad as some of its other counterparts, we weren’t overly impressed with its 7.1 pH. In a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), it was the only one on our list that passed the transparency test. No other bottle on this list disclosed where their water came from, how it’s purified, and how many contaminants were found during testing. Nestle’s label indicates that their water is sourced from wells in Florida, Michigan, or California, or the public water supplies of Pennsylvania, Colorado, or Florida. This water is then treated with either reverse osmosis or distillation. Both of these treatment options render the water void of any contaminants. However, it also rids them of beneficial trace minerals like calcium and magnesium. Unlike some of the other brands on our list, Nestlé consistently includes contact information on their labels for consumers seeking additional information on water quality. If you would like to learn more about their water quality and testing, feel free to visit their website.
That being said, Nestlé received quite a lot of backlash last summer for continuous extraction of water from a drought-plagued California, even during their 5-year-long drought. The Swiss-based company was pumping tens of millions of gallons of water out of the San Bernardino National Forest annually and only paying $0.65 per 470 gallons. The company then turned around and sold the same water back to the California area at an astronomical markup.
While it might be a suitable, transparent, and affordable option, if you cannot find anything else, we definitely wouldn’t suggest consuming this on a regular basis. The low pH and morality of the Swiss-based company are all enough to stop us from adding this bottle to our shopping carts.
5. Arto Life Wtr
We had never heard of Arto Life Wtr before and were intrigued by its unique packaging and product claim of “purified, pH balanced, & electrolytes for taste”. After doing some research into this company, it became clear that pH balanced meant “pH between 6.6 and 7.4”. This brand was staying true to their product claim when we discovered a green colour and a reading of 7.05. While a pH of 7.05 is definitely better than some of the other bottled water in our test, it does not meet the standard for nutritious, alkaline water.
4. Evian Natural Spring Water
Water from the French Alps is definitely a romantic notion, but with only a pH level of 7.2, Evian barely breaks into the alkaline category. Moreover, since most tap water has a pH that ranges between 6.8-7.2, Evian water does not provide much of a competitive advantage over your local water source. Maybe take this one out of the shopping basket next time you’re at the supermarket.
3. Fiji Natural Spring Water
Fiji sounds like an exotic choice, right? While its website claims that the water comes from “tropical rain purified by equatorial winds” and “slowly filtered by volcanic rock,” its water quality report describes an entirely different scenario. The report states that the water is filtered to remove any particulate matter, micron-filtered to remove microbiological particles and that ultraviolet light is applied to ensure disinfection.
Despite the fact that its Bottled Water Quality Report indicates that it has a pH of 7.8, Fiji water results slightly blue in our pH Test Kit, with a pH of roughly 7.3. However, this doesn’t seem very impressive when you take into account that 500mL of this “spring water” cost upwards of $4 a bottle. Maybe opt for a Power Stick which will provide you with more alkaline water, at a fraction of the cost.
2. President’s Choice Natural Spring Water
This bottle surprised us: a low-cost option that also offered a relatively alkaline pH of 7.9. The being said, we were also surprised by the lack of information provided on the label, and via online sources, in regards to the sourcing and treatment of President’s Choice Natural Spring Water. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for an alkaline refreshment, PC Water is still a viable option if you find yourself without access to your Santevia Power Stick.
Eska surprised us by claiming their water had a 7.93 pH and then actually delivering on their promise; we tested an alkaline pH of about 7.9, which is a blue reading on our pH test kit. Eska also impressed us by offering an extensive, NSF approved Bottled Water Report on their website. The report indicates that their treatment process includes the use of filters to remove particulate matter from source water and the use of ultraviolet light for disinfection.
So if you’re ever stuck in a situation where you don’t have your Santevia Power Stick or access to alkaline water from your Gravity Water System or MINA Pitcher, this might be the right choice for you.
Santevia Alkaline Pitcher
Finally, we tested the pH of a Santevia Alkaline Pitcher so that we could use it for comparison. It came out with a dark blue colour with our pH test kit, and our pH meters indicated a pH of about 9.4, making this the most alkaline option we tested today.
In finish off, we ordered each of the bottles from most alkaline, to most acidic. Here’s what we got –