There’s more to water than what comes out of your tap. It’s big business, and that’s why it’s essential to know the best bottled water from the worst.
Sales of bottled water are on the rise, according to market researchers. But if you’re going to pay for a product that you could get for free, it helps to know what you’re actually buying. We’ve put together a list of the top brands and their products, with a short buying guide and glossary to help you make an informed decision about the kind of water you’re drinking.
What Are The Best Bottled Water Products?
Best Overall: Essentia Ionized Water
Essentia Water’s ionized bottled water is an excellent product. It’s safe, clean, tastes great, and has all the right certificates. It’s a supercharged and ionized alkaline water that’s filtered through a proprietary process that purifies Essentia’s water, making it 99.9% pure. This process eradicates contaminants including metals, chlorine, fluoride, bacteria, and other microorganisms.
After the filtration and purification process, Essentia Water is blended with alkaline electrolytes and ionized. The result is an energizing drink with pure alkaline electrolytes that meets EPA, FRA, and IBWA drinking water standards. Each bottle has a pH balance of 9.5 or higher.
Essentia Water’s bottles come in a variety of sizes with different caps. The most popular option is the 12-ounce bottle with a twist top. It’s a great size for throwing into your picnic basket, lunch sack, or gym bag. All of the company’s bottles are BPA and Phthalate free.
It’s certainly not the cheapest water in the world, but the price is fair considering the high quality of the product.
- Great tasting water
- No acidic ion taste thanks to supercharging
- Exceeds EPA, FDA and IBWA standards
- 9% pure composition
Best Budget: Aquafina Purified Drinking Water
Aquafina drinking water is available almost anywhere. It’s cheap, effective, and tastes great. There’s a very good chance that you’ve already had a bottle of Aquafina at some point in your life. It’s almost inescapable.
Every particle of water that ends up in Aquafina bottles undergoes a thorough 7-step purification process that uses reverse osmosis and other filtering methods. This procedure effectively removes salts, chlorides, bacteria, and other substances. As a spokesperson for Pepsi Co (Aquafina’s parent company) was keen to point out: it’s not tap water.
Though you can find Aquafina almost anywhere and for an economical price, it’s not without its negative points. Some water-aficionados aren’t crazy about the taste. Others aren’t particularly pleased by just how ubiquitous and readily-available this brand is. And the packaging is poor in quality and has little re-use value.
Some of these negative points are justified and you should take them into account if you’re looking for a more environmentally-friendly product. However, we’re giving Aquafina top honors in the budget category: it’s cheap, hydrating, and widely available, which makes it a good option for those looking for a cheaper option: especially if you’re buying in bulk.
- Cheap and affordable water
- 7-step purification process
- Available in a wide range of bottle sizes
Best Premium Bottled Water: VOSS Artesian Still Water
VOSS water isn’t cheap, but it is incredibly good. It’s a popular water choice for high-end restaurants and bars, and other premium customers. It’s even endorsed by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and that kind of Rock-filtration is exclusive only to this brand.
VOSS’s water comes from an artesian source in Southern Norway. It’s extracted from an underground aquifer that produces naturally pure water that’s can rehydrate your body in a sharp and sophisticated way.
It’s not all about appearances though. The brand is committed to green practices. It operates with 100% carbon neutrality. The company even sponsors its own foundation, the Voss Foundation, which provides access to clean drinking water in Sub-Saharan Africa.
One thing that we love about VOSS water is the fact that it can be bought in a variety of packaging. It’s most commonly bought in high-quality BPA-free PET bottles, but all of the brand’s products can be purchase in glassware, or aluminum cans. The option of buying a reusable glass container makes this quite an environmentally-friendly choice. Albeit an expensive one.
- Pure artesian water
- Stylish and sophisticated branding
- 100% carbon neutral company
- Environmentally-friendly packaging
Best Flavor: FIJI Natural Artesian Still Water
Next, we have FIJI Natural Artesian Still Water. This is the best bottled water in terms of flavor. It has a soft and smooth taste that will quench your thirst and keep you hydrated, with water directly from a natural source.
That source is an underground artesian aquifer in the Fijian Islands, in the middle of the South Pacific. Tropical rain slowly filters through the island’s volcanic rock before settling in the aquifer. The journey through the rock naturally imbues the water with natural silica and electrolytes, making it ideal for serious rehydration.
The natural filtration process also gives FIJI Water its unique and smooth taste. It has a pH level of 7.5, natural minerals and electrolytes, and comes from an incredibly pure source. That’s why we rate this water so highly. But if that wasn’t enough, it’s also available in BPA-free bottles, and in a wide range of different sizes.
There’s a bottle size for every kind of situation, and each bottle comes filled with some of the best tasting water on the market.
- Pure artesian water
- Naturally electrolyte-enhanced
- Available in BPA-free bottles
- Available in a wide range of bottle sizes
Best Eco Option: JUST Water Premium Pure Still Spring Water
If you’re looking for the most eco-friendly water out there, then the best bottled water for you has to be JUST Water. The company has a very green approach to conducting business, delivering a quality product that keeps customers hydrates in an eco-friendly and sustainable way.
JUST’s source is an alkaline spring located in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. This natural water is fresh and pure, with a pH of 8.0. It’s good old-fashioned, unadulterated water! It’s only gently filtered with Ozone and UV to filter out any contaminants, without removing the naturally occurring minerals.
Plus, the company pays a premium for the privilege of using this natural spring, paying 6x the municipal rate for use of the spring.
The most exciting part of JUST Water’s ethos is the brand’s approach to packaging. Shunning plastic, the company uses eco-friendly boxes to package their water. It’s made from plant materials, and it helps the company reduce carbon emissions by as much as 74% when compared to regular plastic bottles. It’s also fully recyclable, which makes it an attractive green option.
- Pure, natural spring water
- Eco-friendly packaging
- Low carbon impact
- Ozone and UV natural filtration process
Best Carbonated Water: Perrier Carbonated Mineral Water
Perrier is one of the most famous water brands in the world, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s out top choice for the best carbonated water. This French brand’s water is famous thanks to its naturally carbonated water, which is bottled directly at the source in Vergèze, in France’s Gard département. Oh, and it’s famous for those classic Perrier green bottles too.
Aside from being fresh and pure, Perrier’s carbonated water is particularly revered due to its zero-calorie and zero-sweetener nature. It offers all of the texture and feel of other carbonated waters but without any excess ingredients.
Perrier’s water comes in a wide range of flavors. While most buyers opt for the brand’s signature, high-carbonated original flavor, Perrier also offers their water in flavors such as watermelon, apple, orange, strawberry, peach, lime, and more! This wide range of flavors makes it an excellent choice for cocktails.
This water is available in Perrier’s distinctive BPA-free green bottles, which are sold in a variety of sizes to suit different requirements.
- Classic Perrier green bottle
- BEP-plastic container
- All-natural carbonation at the source
- Wide range of flavors
Best Spring Water: Poland Spring Origin 100% Spring Water
Contrary to what the name suggests, this water doesn’t come from Poland. Instead, it comes from a natural spring in an undisclosed location in Maine. Where is this spring? The only information that the company gives away is that it’s surrounded by pine trees and hidden in the woods of Maine. And you can’t get more natural than that.
It’s 100% natural spring water that has a pH balance of between 6.6 to 7.7. It’s boosted with naturally occurring electrolytes which are great for rehydration, and they also improve the taste, making it crisper and more refreshing.
Poland Spring wraps their water in an environmentally-conscious bottle. While the bottle is still made from plastic, it’s made from 100% recycled plastic to help the environmental cause. The bottle is also fully recyclable too, so nothing will have to go to a landfill after use.
It’s not that cheap though. The premium source and the recycled packaging do push the cost up a little, but if you’re worried about the state of the planet, then it’s a small price to pay. Poland Spring water bottles are available in a number of different sizes, but the 900 ml is our favorite.
- 100% natural spring water
- Sourced from a spring in Maine
- The bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic
- Packed full of naturally occurring electrolytes
Best Natural Water: Icelandic Glacial Natural Spring Water
If you want truly pure water, this one is as pure as you can get. Sourced directly from Iceland’s legendary Ölfus Spring, one of the world’s purest ecosystems, this water has a low mineral content and a naturally alkaline pH of 8.4. There are no harmful minerals, silica, or heavy metals, and no bacteria either.
Not only is the water completely natural, but Icelandic Glacial was officially the first bottled water company to be given the Carbon Neutral certification for all aspects of its production: from the actual product itself to the entire company operation. If you’re looking for a green choice, this is definitely one to consider.
The packaging is as environmentally-friendly as possible. Customers have the choice of buying BPA-free bottles, or glass options. It’s available in a wide range of different sizes to suit your needs.
Other cool features of Icelandic Glacial’s natural spring water range is the variety of flavors. It’s available in Elderflower, Tahitian Lime, and Sicilian Lemon flavors too. However, we recommend the unflavored pure water for a truly authentic natural taste!
- Sourced from the famous Ölfus Spring
- 100% Naturally pure water
- The bottles are made from BPA-free plastic or glass
- Low mineral content
Best Alkaline Water: Perfect Hydration Electrolyte Water
Our top choice for the best alkaline bottled water is this electrolyte water from Perfect Hydration. The Perfect Hydration brand is owned by the Stratus Beverage Group in California. It’s an all-American business with a history of delivering innovative and healthy natural beverages. Their water follows this trend too!
This water has a pH balance of over 9.5, making it one of the most alkaline bottled water products out there. This level of alkali is reached by using an innovative 9-stage filtration process. As it’s filtered, it’s enhanced with minerals and electrolytes, before being ionically charged to remove any bitter taste.
Despite being enhanced with minerals, there are no harmful additives in this water, such as added sodium, chlorine, or fluorine. The combination of electrolytes, minerals, and the alkaline nature of the water make it an ideal choice for those who need real hydration, like athletes or physical laborers.
The bottle is 100% recyclable and BPA-free. What’s more, the shape of the bottle is sculpted perfectly to fit into your hand, or into any cup holder.
- 9-stage filtration process
- pH balance of over 9.5
- 100% recyclable and BPA-free bottle
- Ergonomically designed bottle
Best Sports Water: Glaceau Smart Water
Glaceau Smart Water is a mainstay on lists that rank water brands. Why? Because it has a great taste, comes from a natural source, and has plenty of electrolytes. For those who like a hydrating and refreshing drink when they’re at the gym or out on the pitch, Galceau’s Smart Water is one of the best bottled waters you can get.
This was water is bottled at the source, at a spring in the United Kingdom. The spring, located in Morpeth in the north of England, produces naturally sweet water which is then enhanced using a vapor-distillation process, with added electrolytes thrown into the mix.
We like this water, but we also have a few issues. It’s had a rocky past, with allegations that the water is nothing more than tap water. But it’s managed to overcome the negative press and is still one of the most popular bottled water products on the market. It’s also owned by Coca-Cola, a company that could do more to reduce carbon emissions.
Still, this excellent water is available in 100% rPET recycled plastic and comes in a wide variety of flavors. Aside from classic, it’s also available in Sparkling Green Apple, Lemon, Berry & Kiwi, plus new combination flavors Cucumber Lime, Strawberry Blackberry, Pineapple Kiwi, and Watermelon Mint.
- Wide range of flavors
- Added electrolytes
- Vapor-distillation process
- 100% recycled plastic bottle
All You Need To Know About Buying The Best Bottled Water
Below you’ll find a “water label glossary” with some standard definitions of label terms from the FDA. Along with that information, note that if you see terms on bottles, like “glacier water” and “mountain water,” there’s no standard definition for those terms.
Although bottled water, often advertised as a “pure” and “natural” alternative to tap water, is generally safe, it’s actually less regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) than municipal water supplies. The EPA is responsible for regulating the safety of tap water (municipal or public water supplies), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for the safety of bottled water.
Bottled-water makers aren’t required by the FDA to disclose where their water comes from, how it was treated, or what contaminants it might contain. Disclosure is purely voluntary (except in California). And the bottled stuff is subject to a less stringent safety standard than tap water.
Whatever the bottle says, don’t be misled by crisp blue labels and pictures of mountains. Purified tap water is the source of much of the bottled water produced in the U.S., according to industry data. Many consumers could cut out the middleman (and produce far less plastic waste for municipal landfills) by investing in a water filter and reusable water bottle to tote when they’re on the go.
If you’re concerned about the water quality in your area, but don’t want to pay for bottled water, check out these recommended water filters.
Bottled water label glossary
Water obtained from a well that taps a confined aquifer, an underground layer of rock or sand that contains water.
Example: Fiji Natural Artesian Water.
Water that has been boiled and then re-condensed from the steam that the boiling produces. Distillation kills microbes and removes minerals, giving the water a flat taste.
Example: Glacéau Smartwater.
Groundwater that naturally contains at least 250 parts per million of dissolved solids. All minerals and other trace elements must be present in the water when it emerges at the source.
Public water source, also known as municipal water supply, or tap water.
Fact: Aquafina, one of the top 10 selling domestic brands, used to say “P.W.S.” on its label, but changed that in 2007 under pressure from Corporate Accountability International to make clear that the water came from a public supply and not some pristine mountain spring called P.W.S.
Water from any source ( including from the tap) that has been treated to remove chemicals and pathogens according to standards set by the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP). Must contain no more than 10 parts per million of dissolved solids. Distillation, deionization, and reverse osmosis are all purification methods.
Examples: Aquafina, Dasani.
Water that contains carbon dioxide at an amount equal to what it contained when it emerged from its source. Carbon dioxide lost during the treatment process may be added back. (Carbonated waters such as soda water and seltzer are considered soft drinks, not bottled waters.)
Water derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the Earth’s surface. Springwater must be collected at the spring or through a borehole tapping the underground formation (aquifer) feeding the spring.
Examples: Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water (Nestlé), Evian.