Water is essential for life, but what if you can’t trust the source of your tap water?
Bottled water is a great alternative when the purity of your tap water is in question, whether because of bacterial contamination, heavy metals, or organic toxins that slip by the waste water treatment process.
If you want a reliable source of safe, pure, and healthy drinking water, read on—our research team has ranked the ten best brands of bottled water on the market right now.
Last updated: March 28, 2023
Bottled water brands considered: 31
Hours of research: 28
Experts reviewed: 4
Scientific papers referenced: 15
1. Penta Ultra Purified
If your number one concern is purity, Penta is the way to go. It is extremely pure water, without electrolytes or trace elements added for taste.
It is tested and certified free of pesticides, heavy metals, pharmaceutical traces, and BPA, all of which can contaminate tap water.
The total dissolved solid content—meaning anything but water—is less than one part per million. For the health conscious consumer, it’s our number one choice.
2. Fiji Natural Artesian Water
Fiji has been a long-time favorite of choosy water drinkers thanks to its well-balanced and crisp taste. Harvested from natural water springs in Fiji, this bottled water is highly pure and very refreshing.
3. Propel Electrolyte Water
Propel solves a problem for the diet-conscious athlete: how do you get electrolytes during and after a workout without the high sugar content of a traditional sports drink?
Propel provides a small amount of electrolytes along with a range of B-complex vitamins for energy and sports performance. Athletes and gym buffs should opt for Propel if they want to fuel up their workouts without the drawbacks of a sugar-laden sports beverage.
4. Boxed Water
If you want the benefits of bottled water but less of an environmental impact, Boxed Water is the way to go. It uses BPA-free paper to make the cartons, which are in turn 100% recyclable.
The actual water is purified through reverse osmosis and disinfected with ultraviolet light treatment, making it well-suited both for daily drinking and emergency preparedness.
5. Evian Natural Spring Water
If you want bottled water with the natural minerals present in spring water, Evian is one of the best choices. It is sourced from glacial runoff in the French Alps and includes trace minerals like potassium and magnesium that balance out its taste.
6. Essentia Ionized Water
Essentia makes bottled water that is subjected to ionization to increase its pH, making it more alkaline.
It has electrolytes added to support this higher pH, which gives it a sharper and more distinct taste than most other bottled waters. If you want some of the reputed health benefits of alkaline water, such as decreased heartburn, it’s a good option.
7. Acqua Panna Natural Spring Water
Acqua Panna derives its spring water from Italy, and it’s a favorite among people who care about the taste of bottled water.
The naturally-included minerals give it a light and airy taste, and its taste is a lot cleaner than many other bottled waters on the market.
8. Glaceau smartwater
Smartwater starts out as a highly purified and distilled water, then Glaceau adds a small amount of electrolytes for taste.
This way, you know that it is free from any possible contaminants, but still has the benefits of trace minerals in the water. If you are conscious about water purity but want trace elements too, smartwater is the way to go.
Voss is a high-end artisanal water that you’ll often find at fine restaurants. It’s drawn from deep wells in Norway and packaged in a thick, BPA-free PET plastic bottle. If taste is your top priority, definitely consider Voss.
10. JUST Water
JUST Water takes the environmental impact of bottles seriously, and uses recycled and recyclable paper to make its bottles.
It pays attention to taste, too—this naturally-sourced spring water has trace minerals for taste and electrolytes, and is packaged at a pH of 8.0, making it a good choice for those seeking a more alkaline water.
Best bottled water overall: Penta Ultra Purified
Penta is super-pure and tastes great. What more can you ask for from bottled water? As long as you don’t want any special additives, Penta should be your go-to choice.
Best alkaline bottled water: Essentia Ionized Water
Essentia uses an ionization process to raise its pH (a measure of alkalinity) to over 9.5. If you are specifically looking for alkaline water, for dietary or health considerations, Essentia is the perfect option.
Best natural spring bottled water: Evian Natural Spring Water
Evian, sourced from the French Alps, has a fresh, cool taste that’s attributable to the trace minerals that are left in the glacial runoff where this water is sourced. If you want bottled water with minimal processing, Evian is the way to go.
Best filtered bottled water: Penta Ultra Purified
Penta’s purity is measured in parts per billion—that should tell you something about its purity level. Penta’s 13-step purification process is the best in the industry, making it an easy winner if you are looking for filtered bottled water.
Best-tasting bottled water: Fiji Natural Artisanal Water
Fiji has long made a name for itself for its excellent-tasting bottled water, and there’s a good reason for it. Fiji tops all its competitors with its clear, crisp taste.
Best bottled water with electrolytes: Propel Electrolyte Water
Designed with athletes in mind, Propel is great if you need electrolytes for exercise but don’t want the sugars that come with traditional sports drinks.
Who should buy bottled water?
Bottled water is particularly handy in a few specific circumstances.
People who want to stay hydrated with high-quality water while on the go. Bottled water makes it easy to bring purified water with you wherever you go, even if you aren’t sure if good tap water will be available.
People who have untrustworthy local water supplies. If you don’t have consistently high-quality tap water, bottled water is a good fix, especially as a way to tide you over until you can get a water filtration system for your home, especially for people who are concerned about bacterial, heavy metal, or endocrine disruptor contamination in their water.
People who want to be prepared for disasters. Even if you have good tap water now, stashing some bottled water away in case of a disaster is a good idea. A well-stocked emergency shelter should include both bottled water and long-term food storage.
How we ranked
When formulating our bottled water rankings, purity and quality were of the utmost importance. Here are the specific criteria we used:
Third-party tested for contaminants. We sought out products that had been tested by third party or independent laboratories for purity and quality, focusing on two metrics: the presence of trace metal contaminants like lead, cadmium, or mercury, and the presence of organic contaminants like bisphenol A (also known as BPA) and traces of pharmaceutical drugs.
Close analysis of filtration method. We also carefully examined the type of purification used to filter the water, with reverse osmosis being the preferred method.
Excellent sourcing of water. In addition to purity, we looked at where the water was originally sourced from. Highly pure natural sources, such as the glacial runoff in the French Alps used to make Evian bottled water, were good candidates for bottled water sources in this category.
Careful consideration of any extras like electrolytes. Next, we selected the best bottled water that contain extra electrolytes, like Propel Electrolyte Water. If you aren’t quite ready for a sports drink or an energy drink, a bottled water with a little bit of electrolytes can help you perform better when you exercise, without the added sugar of the alternatives.
Minimum plastic consumption for minimum environmental harm. Finally, we also considered high-quality bottled water products that were conscious of their environmental consequences. Here, Boxed Water was the clear winner, with post-consumer recycled paper used to make their cartons (which are also recyclable).
The clear winner in this category, Boxed Water also had the benefit of being BPA-free and disinfected with UV light, so it’s a favorite among survivalists and others who maintain emergency water rations.
Q: Which bottled water is the safest to drink?
A: When it comes to safety, you want to opt for a brand that uses high-quality filtering methods such as reverse osmosis filtering.
Our current favorite is Penta Ultra Purified, thanks to its extremely rigorous filtering and purification procedures that you can count on to remove all kinds of contaminants, from bacteria and protozoa that cause disease to heavy metals and traces of organic compounds from pharmaceutical drugs that may contaminate tap water.
If you are looking for a bottled water for emergency preparedness, we like Boxed Water Is Better thanks to its innovative BPA-free packaging and ultraviolet light disinfection procedure.
In terms of safety, you really need to consider three possible angles: first, bacterial, viral, or protozoa contamination that can cause disease; second, heavy metal contamination with compounds like mercury and lead; and third, organic contamination with endocrine disruptors like BPA or traces of pharmaceutical drugs. Our top-rated bottled waters are free from all three.
Q: Is bottled water worth it?
A: The cost to benefit analysis of whether bottled water is worth it is going to depend a lot on the quality of tap water that’s at your disposal.
If you live in a location with great tap water that’s regularly tested and proven to be high quality, then bottled water might not be worth it. However, if you’re in a city that is having problems with its water supply quality, then bottled water might make sense if you’d rather not compromise on your health.
Bottled water is almost always worth it in two cases: when travelling to locations with poor water quality, and in your emergency preparedness supplies. Travelling to less-developed locations is a great way to get away, but it’s also a great way to pick up an acute infection thanks to the bacteria, viruses, and protozoa that can contaminate local water supplies. Americans traveling to Mexico are infamously vulnerable to infections from E. coli, shigella, and other waterborne infectious agents, for example.
Along with long term food storage, bottled water is always a good idea to keep on hand in case an emergency or natural disaster strikes and tap water becomes unreliable.
Q: What is in bottled water?
A: While this might seem like a silly question (“water” would be the obvious answer), it’s worth a closer look, because where that water comes from, and whether it contains anything else, varies from brand to brand.
Purified bottled water, like our top pick of Penta Ultra Purified, goes through a rigorous process of chemical purification that removes any potential contaminants. Mineral or spring water, like Evian, is all natural, and may contain dissolved traces of elements like sodium, potassium, and calcium.
Finally, enhanced water like Propel or Smart Water contains electrolytes and sometimes vitamins as well that are added to water after it’s purified, with the aim of enhancing your health beyond what you’d get with just plain water (though whether this is even necessary is up for debate: there are plenty of other ways to get electrolyte sin your diet).
Q: How long does bottled water last?
A: In terms of safety, bottled water will last more or less indefinitely. The United States Food and Drug Administration does not require a shelf life to be on a bottle of water like it does for foods and other beverages, like milk (12).
However, many manufacturers will put a shelf life on their bottled water because they believe that the taste may be negatively affected after a certain amount of time due to changes in the packaging.
Nestle, for example, recommends bottled water remain on the shelf for no more than two years (13). If you are drinking bottled water for the taste, it’s worth paying attention to these guidelines, but if all you care about is water for emergency preparedness, your water supply should stay good indefinitely if it’s properly sealed.
Maintaining good hydration is important both for performance and for overall health, but unfortunately, tap water doesn’t always meet safety and purity standards.
Heavy metal contaminants, like lead, can make their way into drinking water supplies thanks to inadequate water treatment and bureaucratic mismanagement, as happened in Flint, Michigan. Up to 45 million Americans could be exposed to harmful drinking water, according to some research, so for many people, bottled water is a good alternative to potentially contaminated tap water if they are trying to stay hydrated.
Rural water supplies are particularly vulnerable to bacterial contamination due to outdated treatment equipment, and even some of the best wastewater treatment systems can’t remove pharmaceutical compounds and endocrine disruptors. The long-term effects of these biologically active chemicals are unknown, but the odds are they are not good for your health.
If you are concerned about water purity affecting your health or a lack of pure water in your local supply, getting a high quality bottled water is the best way to avoid organic, inorganic, and bacterial contamination in the water you drink.
For BodyNutrition‘s #1 bottled water recommendation, click here.