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Is store-bought mineral water better than tap water?


Some people drink it conveniently from the tap, others lug it home in crates: water! But which water is healthier and which is more climate-friendly and sustainable? Find out how we can best quench our thirst in this article.

Origin and treatment of our drinking water

Our drinking water is treated by the waterworks. Of this, 70% comes from groundwater and spring water, 13% from lakes, rivers or reservoirs and 17% is a middle ground. Degradation products of pesticides and pharmaceutical residues can be detected in groundwater – but so far in such small quantities that they do not pose a health risk. For example, there is too much nitrate in arable farming regions, which is why water suppliers in these areas have to switch to groundwater at great depths. Some pollutants that enter the soil today will not cause us problems for decades, as they only spread slowly. It is therefore essential that we treat our environment with care so that the groundwater is not unnecessarily polluted. This includes, for example, not flushing medicines down the toilet or other drains, but disposing of them in the residual waste or taking them to the pharmacy or recycling center. Factors in the home that can influence the purity of tap water must also be taken into account. These are, for example, the quality of the water pipes – an issue in houses built before 1972 -, the aerators or strainer attachments on the taps, which must be cleaned regularly.
taps, which should be cleaned regularly, or stagnant water, i.e. water that stands in the pipe and should be drained before drinking water from the tap.

Contamination risks for mineral water sources

Mineral water, on the other hand, must come from underground deposits that are protected from contamination. In contrast to the waterworks, the mineral water company is hardly allowed to treat it and it is bottled directly on site. There are more than 500 active mineral water springs in Germany, which are bottled by around 150 mineral springs nationwide. This means that German consumers can choose between 500 different mineral waters and 27 medicinal waters. Selters, for example, is extracted from a spring up to 300 meters deep in the Taunus mountains. However, mineral water sources can also be affected by impurities, such as pesticide degradation products or uranium and boron, which occur naturally in the soil and rock strata.

Mineral water is available from 13 cents per liter, while we pay an average of just 1 euro for 1,000 liters of tap water. That’s just 0.1 cents per liter.

Sustainable water supply

Our water supply is based on the principle of disposability. This means that drinking water is taken from nature and disposed of in a sewage treatment plant after use. Although it is returned to the water cycle by being discharged into a body of water, it is not used directly. In view of climate change and increasing water scarcity, this supply system is no longer fit for purpose. The future therefore lies in the reuse of water, which is already technically possible today.

Drinking tap water is better from an environmental point of view, as there is no need for transportation or packaging material. If you do want to drink bottled mineral water, it is advisable to choose water from the region, as it has only been transported over short distances. Glass bottles are also preferable as, unlike plastic bottles, they can be refilled more often and have little to no microplastic contamination. The mineral water industry is aiming to become climate-neutral by 2030 and thus effectively avoid and reduce CO2 emissions throughout the entire mineral water process and supply chain.

Choosing tap water over bottled mineral water is therefore highly recommended from a health perspective – at least in countries where the EC Drinking Water Directive applies. If you don’t like the taste of tap water yet, you can simply make your own sparkling water at home to improve the taste. Otherwise, it’s simply a matter of getting used to it.

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