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Filtered Vs Bottled Vs Tap Water

Published by: Maria Kelley • Updated: February 2, 2024 • Checked By: Chef Matty Riedel

Water is life. Without water, all life dies. According to doctors, drinking clean water is paramount in maintaining optimal health. Moreover, clean water is the only sure way to guarantee healthier living and a decent cup of tea from your electric kettle or coffee machine!

However, due to the recent growth in technology and industrialisation, the quest for clean water has become increasingly difficult. If, like most people, you find yourself stuck between the available alternatives to get clean and safe water in your home, you have three major categories to choose from. 

These are filtered water, bottled water, and tap water. Like any other thing, there are many misconceptions about what type of water is safest and healthiest for consumption. On the positive side, all these types of water have minerals, either naturally occurring or via intentional addition. These minerals include;

  • Calcium (Ca)
  • Sodium (Na),
  • Zinc (Zn)
  • Magnesium (Mg) and
  • Fluoride (F)

Below is a breakdown of the three significant drinking water categories available.

Filtered Vs Bottled Vs Tap Water: Which Is Best?

Tap Water

It is the most widely available water source in any country.

Most of the water is supplied by local authorities. Tap water is highly regulated and has to be filtered at the source. Tap water in the UK has an overall quality performance of 99.96%, making it suitable for public water supplies.

thirsty dog drinking water from a pipe

Drinking water has to pass strict standards to guarantee its safety. The standards encompass chemicals such as pesticides, metals, microorganisms, appearance, and taste. The bodies that regulate water in the UK include the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) and the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat).

Nonetheless, due to the area of coverage of supply routes, tap water can easily be compromised, for instance, during an emergency such as floods, tornados, hurricanes, or fires. Besides, since pipes are rarely replaced, it’s possible that they can wear out or corrode with time, contaminating the water. 

Bottled Water

Bottled water is water from the springs or tap water after being purified to meet safety standards. Even though most water brands claim their water originates from natural sources, most is filtered tap water.

Numerous studies have been conducted to ascertain this claim. Many of these research findings found that minerals in bottled water were healthier than not in the water itself. Minerals such as magnesium, chloride, bicarbonate, sulphate, and iron have positive health benefits. Many people think that bottled water is the perfect drinking water. Even though there is a certain degree of truth in that thought, there are other facts that you should consider, too. It’s a paradox that tap water is often tested more frequently than bottled water in some cases. On many occasions, bottled water has been found to include impurities such as cancer-causing chemicals, nicotine, E. coli, fertilisers, etc.

thirsty young boy drinking water from a plastic bottle

Harmful Impacts Of Bottled Water

1. Plasticizers And EDCs

Plasticisers are compounds added to increase the flexibility and handling properties of different plastics. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have a proven record of interfering with the endocrine system. These chemicals get transferred from the bottles to the water, which makes it unsafe. However, once the substances enter the human body, they have devastating consequences. 

2. Environmental Hazards

Scientifically, a plastic bottle can last up to 1,000 years before decomposing. The millions of bottles discarded improperly thus cause a vast challenge. What’s worse is that if the wastewater bottles are burned, they produce toxic fumes to the environment. 

Some may argue that recycling plastic water bottles is a solution, which is not the case. The production of these bottles releases a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere. Plastic water bottles are also becoming a leading polluter in waterways. 

Filtered Water

There is a range of techniques used in water filtration. They range from simple mechanisms to complex ones. Since each filtration method is uniquely designed, they all work differently. Therefore, you must deploy a combination of filtration techniques to get the safest water for drinking. Depending on your preferences, you can choose among the following major types of filters;

1. Carbon Filters

Carbon filters are designed to remove organic compounds such as chlorine. Therefore, it does not remove organic compounds such as lead, fluoride, and mercury. As a result, carbon filters improve water’s taste and appearance.

2. Reverse Osmosis

These filters use pressure to filter out contaminants from the water. The system contains a semi-permeable membrane where water molecules pass through while larger molecules (impurities) are left behind. This method effectively removes more contaminants but is less effective against smaller contaminants such as chlorine.

3. Activated Alumina Filter

This system comprises ceramic filters, eliminating fluoride and arsenic compounds from local tap water supplies. It’s widespread in water pitchers and reasonably cheap.

4. Water Distillation

Although it’s probably the oldest water filtration technique, it’s still one of the most effective methods. This process involves boiling tap water and cooling the steam into a container. This process kills the bacteria and ejects all contaminants available in the water. It is, however, less efficient because it takes a lot of time to distil a substantive amount of water, especially for an average family.

5. Ion Exchange

Technically, this is not a filtration technique but a water-softening method. It replaces calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions via ion exchange. This process removes the hard water-causing minerals. 

You can, therefore, choose to install a water filtration system that will handle all the filtration work for you. The majority of the systems combine several mechanisms to increase efficiency. The most common ones include;

  • Faucet filter
  • Water filter pitcher
  • Under sink water filter
  • Countertop water filter and
  • Whole house water filter system.
  • Tap Water

    Bottled Water

    Filtered Water

  • Source

    Accessible anywhere

    From the springs or tap water after being purified

    Tap water that has been filtered done in your homes

  • Regulation

    Highly regualted by diff regualtory bodies

    Needs to meet safety standards

    Needs to meet safety standards

  • Cons

    Can easily be compromised

    Found to include impurities such as cancer-causing chemicals, nicotine, E. coli, and fertilizer

    Cost in installation

Filtered Vs Bottled Vs Tap Water: Summing Up

When you look at the three types of drinking water, you might wonder which option is better. Inherently, almost everyone has access to tap water. It is considered safe, though it’s riddled with potential contaminants along the way. Rationally, most people use tap water for household chores and seek a safer alternative for drinking water for making a cup of tea, in your coffee machine, washing vegetables, etc.

As you’ve seen, the only difference between bottled and filtered water is that the former is available in the store while the latter is available at home. Why would anyone pay more to have the same quality as the one available at home (via a water filtration system) – even better tasting while burdening the ecosystem?  

Lastly, tap water and bottled water face enormous challenges with contamination due to ageing infrastructure and the massive scale of the supplies. However, as long as filters inside filtration systems are frequently changed, filtered water is safer, convenient, inexpensive, and has zero environmental implications. 

Maria Kelley