Difference Between Bottled Water And Tap Water

Is it necessary to buy bottled water, and how safe is tap water? Drinking either tap water or bottled water is a great idea, but the two have distinct differences.

What is Tap Water?

Tap water is drinking water that originates from an interior tap that is part of the plumbing system of a home. In order to ensure the water is safe to drink, a sophisticated pipe network, a reliable water supply, and water filtering are all required. Most first-world countries have access to potable water from the faucet, while those in the poor world rarely do.

Processing − There are a number of steps taken to refine the quality of the tap water we drink. First, coagulation is used to get rid of any grime or other debris. We add alum and other chemicals to make the debris sink to the bottom, where it can be easily removed. Water was filtered through layers of sand, gravel, and charcoal to eliminate any remaining debris.

In order to prevent the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms in an enclosed tank or reservoir, a very small quantity of chlorine is added to the water. The water is then delivered to residences through pipes.

Cost − The average cost of a gallon of municipal water is less than 1 cent, but a 20-ounce plastic water bottle might cost more than a dollar.

What is Bottled Water?

Bottled water is defined as drinking water that has been carbonated, distilled, de-ionized, or mineralized before being packaged in a plastic or glass container. Because most of the world's water supplies have become contaminated in the last decade, their usage has skyrocketed.

Although some may argue that bottled water is safer than tap water, this is not always the case in industrialized nations. There, stricter standards are enforced for municipal water systems than for bottled water. In order to avoid contaminating customers, tap water must be treated to remove microorganisms like Escherichia coli.

Tap water is treated with beneficial minerals and fluoride, although certain bottled waters may include some of these substances. And whereas bottled water poisoning is often discovered at a

later date, any contamination of the public water supply is publicized immediately, making consumers apprehensive.

Processing − While some bottled water does originate from natural springs, most of them comes straight from the municipal system. The only permitted alteration to natural mineral water or spring water is the addition of carbon dioxide before bottling. However, some bottled water is sourced from non-natural environments, such as municipal supplies, and is treated with ultraviolet radiation to kill germs, filtration, and ion exchange to remove extra minerals. There is no residual disinfectant present.

Cost − Bottled water can be up to a thousand times more expensive than municipal water, depending on the state and the brand.

Environmental Impact

Water bottles are created from virgin petroleum, a fossil fuel, and the bottles are filled and distributed using fossil fuels. There are bottles that must be transported overseas. As reported by Food & Water Watch, manufacturing the plastic used in these bottles consumes upwards of 47 million gallons of oil annually. It's estimated that bottled water accounts for up to 1.5 million tonnes of annual plastic trash, and yet only 20% of bottles get recycled, per the Container Recycling Institute.

Regulatory Bodies

The Environmental Protection Agency regulates tap water, while the FDA regulates bottled water. However, FDA regulations do not cover water packaged and sold within the same state, so 60 to 70% of bottled water, including water-cooler water, is fairly unregulated.

Health and Safety

  • Bottled water is subject to looser standards than municipal water. This indicates it may be contaminated with germs or chemicals, maybe including carcinogens, over acceptable levels. In 1999, the NRDC conducted research that revealed two brands were polluted with phthalates, one of which was found to violate EPA guidelines for tap water.

  • Some researchers have also pointed out that keeping water in plastic bottles at a high temperature might cause the bottles to break down and release plastic particles into the water

  • To prevent the spread of disease, a small quantity of chlorine is added to the water supply and subjected to daily inspections.

The Popularity of Bottled Water

A staggering 8 billion gallons of bottled water was used in the United States in 2006. Another research conducted in 2010 estimated that annual spending on bottled water was between $50 and $100 billion.

A large part of bottled water's success can be attributed to the widespread belief that it tastes better than tap water. Some people may prefer tap water over bottled water, but in blind-tasting tests, most people cannot distinguish the difference.

Differences between Bottled Water and Tap Water

The following table highlights the important features of Bottled water and Tap water−


Bottled Water

Tap Water

Regulated by

FDA (Food and Drug Administration)

EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)


Water from natural springs or public sources goes through a purification process and is then bottled and distributed to retail stores.

Water is delivered through a system of pipes, pumps, and purification systems to homes and buildings in the developed and developing world.

Contains chlorine



Contains fluoride

Mostly not



Buy bottled water from a store.

Tap water is cheaper than mineral or bottled water. In some countries, it is not consumed due to fears of contamination.


Varies, including springs and municipal supply

Municipal supply


Costlier than tap water.

Cheaper than bottled water.


Less stringent

More stringent


In this article, we explained in detail how Bottled Water is different from Tap Water.

Updated on: 20-Jan-2023


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