Tap, bottled or filtered water: Which should you drink?

Tap, bottled or filtered water: Which should you drink?

What’s the best way to get your eight glasses in?

Staying hydrated is good for you and has become a symbol of wellness. Water bottles are like fashion accessories and apps that track H2O consumption abound. Water is an essential nutrient that aids in digestion, protects organs and provides a natural energy boost. But what’s the best way to get your eight glasses a day? Tap, bottled and filtered water each have their benefits and drawbacks. Discover the best choice for you.

Tap Water 

Old pipes can leach lead into the water in older homes. But beyond what’s in the pipes, there may be residual pharmaceuticals, hormones and chemicals present in public drinking water. In Toronto, water is treated with chlorine, ammonia, fluoride and phosphoric acid, which is used as corrosion control to protect water drinkers from lead-contaminated pipes. Chlorine by-products have been linked to a higher risk of health issues including cancer but Health Canada protects public water supplies by establishing guidelines for safe trace amounts of these chemicals.

Bottled Water

With so many varieties on the market, it’s hard to rate the quality of bottled water. In some cases, bottled water is tap water that has been filtered and has had minerals added to it. Other high-quality options, like Fiji Water come from clean, natural sources, and the alkaline water being sold by brands like Essentia may have additional health benefits. But, as with all bottled water, you may be drinking microscopic traces of plastic. And regardless of the quality of the water, plastic is harmful to the environment and fewer than half of the more than two billion water bottles used in Canada ever get recycled.

An empty plastic water bottle lies on a beach.

Filtered Water

Filtered water is convenient, environmentally friendly and often a very healthy choice but not all filters are created equally. Water pitchers with carbon filters or the built-in filters on refrigerators remove chlorine, mercury, lead and a short list of other harmful substances but may leave some substances behind and can lead to increased bacteria in your water.

Reverse osmosis (RO) filters are better. They offer a water purification process that uses a partially permeable membrane to separate ions, unwanted molecules, and larger particles from drinking water. RO is a good option, provided you choose a quality provider like Kinetico, Sorso wellness water or Culligan. But shop smart as many cheaper options can waste a lot of water and need frequent replacing. The RO process takes out most contaminants like heavy metals (lead), pharmaceuticals, fluoride, PFAS, hormones, Chromium 6, Pesticides, and many others. 

But RO is not without its issues. First, the process can waste water. More importantly, the RO process causes the water to become acidic, meaning that it has a pH of about 6.5. In Canada, the acceptable range for water pH is seven to 10.5.

Image: Sorso Water

The best filters go beyond just RO and add minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium to the water, and increase the pH level to around 8.5. Some companies, like Sorso wellness water, add natural minerals and ionize the water, which some people believe will result in H2O that is more easily absorbed, and will help distribute nutrients more effectively to your cells and hydrate you more quickly. Sorso also hydrogenates the water, which may increase its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Not only is this water cleaner, but it may be healthier, and many would agree, it’s better tasting.