Tap water vs bottled water: Study reveals which is better for you

Brands Pump and Mount Franklin were most acidic. Source: Getty.

Scientists have finally provided an answer to the age old debate of whether tap or bottled water is better for you – and it seems you’re better off filling your glass at home.

The Australian market isn’t short of bottled water brands claiming that their products are filled with minerals that you can’t get from a glass of good ol’ tap water, but a new study has shown that those claims just aren’t true.

Popular water brands, such as Fiji, Mount Franklin and Pump, were put to the test against Gold Coast tap water in a study by Griffith University, for ABC series War on Waste.

Tap water in Australia is subject to stringent testing and regulations to ensure it’s safe to drink but bottled water is classified as a food product and not subject to the same controls which means quality and mineral content can vary depending on the brand.

Scientists assessed the mineral levels of the different brands, including how much fluoride and calcium they contain, as well as the acidity levels of the water as low pH levels can lead to damaged teeth enamel.

Water scientist Dr Fred Leusch said that a reading of seven is neutral and the lower the reading, the higher the acidity. The lab tests revealed that Pump and Mount Franklin’s sparkling brand had pH levels which would actually cause them to fail against the stringent standards placed on tap water. Pump came in at 4.6 while Mount Franklin’s sparkling water recorded a pH level of 3.7

“Below four is something that does damage your enamel,” said Dr Leusch, as reported by News.com.au. “We’re in the range of Coke and coffee — we know these are not great for our teeth. Tap water should really be marketed as mineral water.”

The programme also revealed that one brand customers are paying out for, Nature’s Best, is actually just treated tap water that has been bottled, despite claiming to be “pure, safe, Australian water”.

Dr Leusch added: “I find the name ironic — Nature’s Best, pure, safe Australian — it’s an acknowledgment that tap water’s safe. In the end, I reckon when you’re buying this, most of the cost is the plastic container. What’s inside is just worth 0.1 of a cent.”

Many people avoid tap water because of the fluoride it contains, over fears too much it could damage teeth, however Tuesday night’s show also revealed that all bottles examined also contain it, with Nature’s Best actually containing more fluoride than the tap water available to Gold Coast residents.

“It’s a natural element, it’s found in some of our groundwaters as well,” Dr Leusch said. “It’s a chemical found in rocks and so if that groundwater has been in contact with fluoride containing rocks, it will have naturally higher concentrations of fluoride.”

What do you think? Do you drink tap or bottled water?

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