What Retailers Don’t Want You to Know About Tap Water

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when it happened, but sometime over the past decade or so, the general population of this country formed a belief that bottled water is better than tap water—safer and healthier, too. It is not difficult to figure out where this idea originated. It was with bottled water suppliers. It was pretty ingenious to convince otherwise normal people to pay between 240 and 10,000 times more to purchase water in a bottle than to get it from the supply we’re already paying for that comes out of the taps in our homes.

Drinking water


These days a 16-ounce bottle of “spring” water goes for about a dollar, which works out to about $8.00 a gallon–twice the cost of milk, and about par with bottled soft drinks. Home delivery of water in those great big, heavy bottles is less per gallon but still around $40 a month, according to online averages.

The average household cost for town water in the U.S. is $.66 per cubic meter, which is 265 gallons, or 4,240 eight-ounce glasses of water—enough to last the average person 530 days (consuming eight 8-ounce glasses per day). Another way to price it: Sixty-two 8-ounce glasses of water cost about 1 cent.


This may startle you, but it is absolutely true: Tap water is safer than bottled water. How could that be? The reason is simple. The water supply in the U.S. is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under very strict guidelines and rules that are heavily enforced. Bottled water is subject to FDA rules, which are far less stringent. For example, tap water by law requires disinfection. Testing for bacteria must be conducted hundreds of times per month. Bottled water, on the other hand, is not required to be disinfected; the frequency of bacteria testing is fewer than five times each month.


Tooth decay in children is making a big comeback. The culprit? Bottled water. It’s not the water that’s causing the decay, according to the World Dental Congress. It’s the lack of fluoride. Parents believe they are giving their children a superior product in bottled water, but in fact they are depriving kids of the fluoride and minerals they need to build healthy teeth and bodies. Fluoridation, present in most public water supplies, has become recognized as a key intervention in tooth decay.

So, the next time you feel thirsty, don’t reach for a bottle. Instead turn on the tap. You’ll be drinking water that is just as safe, or safer, than bottled water and saving money, too. Get the kids to switch and you just might head off big dental bills down the road as well.

Tip: Don’t like the taste of your tap water? Invest in a filter pitcher or install an inexpensive faucet filter.

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  1. Tiana says:

    I concur with the others about the dangers of fluoride. Not good at all! Added to the chlorine that the cities put in the water as well and you have a brew that will negatively affect your health. We invested in a whole house filtration system and we also put a filter on our refrigerator that dispenses water. Nice, clean water at no extra price (beyond our initial investment). My family carries a steel, insulated water bottle everywhere and it is great at keeping ice cold water at the ready. I will not drink from plastic water bottles any more.

  2. David Larson says:

    bullshit , fluoride has been proven that it has nothing to do with the prevention of tooth decay , take magnesium thatll help your teeth better than a known carcinogen

  3. ABC says:

    I came to say that I love my Pur water pitcher (it takes the smell/taste and slimy mouth feel of chlorine out of our tap water), but then ran into the fluoridation issue also.

    I had read before that fluoride in tap water was not a good thing and thought of that when I read the column, but couldn’t remember any specifics. I’m not sure if our small town puts fluoride in the water or not. I do know that I’m too cheap to pay for bottled water….besides the cost, all those plastic bottles being thrown away really gets on my nerves!

    We drink mostly water around here, except for my son, whom we have not yet been able to convince to leave off the sodas. My daughter commutes to college and takes a lunch, so we keep a few purchased water bottles, put a little bit of filtered water in them, lay them on their sides in the freezer, then fill them with filtered water for her lunch. She then also has a bottle of water in her backpack all day, without having to buy any.

    I’ve found that the filters for the pitcher last a bit longer than the package says. I’m not sure how far over the date we go, but I just change them when the water starts getting a slight off taste again.

    re: glacial milk off mountains — where we used to go for vacations in Arkansas there was a spring that ran out of the mountainside. Someone had put a pipe in it and it was just running freely out of the mountain, 24/7/365. We once put some in a water bottle (had to use bottled water at the cabin since the well water had so much iron in it and was gross), brought it home, watched it for a month or so, and never saw one whit of sediment settle at the bottom! It tasted good also. If I lived in that area, that is where I would be getting my drinking/cooking water. There is also Mountain Valley Spring Water in Hot Springs, Arkansas: http://www.mountainvalleyspring.com/water/packaging-bottling/

  4. Jo Peckinpaugh says:

    Oh Mary, I love YOU and your column but you’re way off here. Not only has the addition of Hydrofluosilicic Acid (this is what the utilities call ‘fluoride’ and in actuality is a hazardous byproduct/ waste product of the phosphate fertilizer industry) DANGEROUS…there is much research out there now supporting this…BUT tap water also has a myriad of other toxins, pharmaceuticals, etc…the preponderance of which the EPA hasn’t and cannot classify what level constitutes SAFE. One of many ‘side effects’ is lower IQ testing in the target population.

    ‘ hydrofluosilicic acid 1.An unstable poisonous corrosive acid knownprimarily in the form of its salts (H2F6Si)’ … check out MOSAIC in Florida

    YES, bottled water is a major rip off; some of it is actually tap water. Most of it sits in plastic thru varying temps, causing toxins to leach into the water. There is so much more to this than I have time to discuss; the important take-away is that the ONLY really safe water (other than glacial milk off mtns HA!) is from reverse osmosis or distillation systems which take EVERYTHING out, then remineralization (your body needs minerals or will leach them from your bones). EVEN the radiation that is now so prevalent in our water can only be removed via this process.

  5. Just Me says:

    I agree with the previous posters regarding fluoride. Some of us actively AVOID it, and likely more of us should start. It is a terrible thing for people with thyroid conditions and neurological disorders. There is no clear evidence that it does anything beneficial for teeth.

      • Just Me says:

        There is just as much credible evidence stating that it does NOT do anything beneficial, and can be harmful. I have been a scientist for 23 years, and for every “proven” fact there is a study that disproves it.

  6. Honeywest says:

    I, too, have learned recently of the dangers of fluoridation. We’ve been misled on the safety of fluoride. It is actually one of the most toxic substances humans can ingest. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/07/01/water-supply-fluoridation.aspx

  7. Julie N says:

    Bottled water may be a $1 a bottle if you’re buying one bottle at a time, but it is possible to get it down to $0.10 per bottle when you buy a store brand by the case. Admittedly, that still is far more expensive than drinking tap water. And one has to handle bottles with care because of the toxins they can release at higher temperatures (hint: don’t store them in your car in the summer).
    As a family on well water in an area with potential mining and agricultural contamination, with a family member who has a compromised immune system, we’ve had to carefully consider which is lesser evil.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      What do you know about your bottled water? What’s in it? I think you might be shocked to discover it comes from a tap… just regular filtered tap water.

      • ABC says:

        She probably prefers that to well water with potential mining and agricultural contamination….but, Julie N, have you ever had your well water tested?

      • Julie N says:

        Yes. Positive for coliform bacteria at certain times of the year. We’re also in an area that has some radon, and ground water can pick that up. We haven’t tested the water for radon or agricultural chemicals — the E. coli and noticeable sulfur was enough to discourage us from drinking it. To do all the necessary purification systems isn’t in the budget yet, so we bring in water from a better well for most of us and buy for the immune-compromised member.

      • Julie N says:

        We’re quite aware of that, but the important thing is that it is consistent and much less likely to have multiple types of contamination than our well. We mainly buy for the person with the health issue who is sensitive to even small changes in minerals, etc., and obtain water elsewhere for the rest of us.
        What’s truly shocking in the world of drinking water is the disturbing evidence for many endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are
        now in our water and soil. They don’t break down! These include
        estrogens from birth control pills, BPA from plastics (used on receipt
        paper at cash registers, and elsewhere), DDT (in other countries),
        certain fertilizers, PCBs, phthalates (in plastic toys and other
        plastics to make them soft) etc.These chemicals disrupt many organisms’ development.

  8. Jeff Mauerman says:

    Dear Mary,

    I love your column, but felt the need to chime in on what I consider to be a very important subject.

    I wholeheartedly agree that bottled water is a huge rip-off, but your all-out plug for fluoridated water is troubling.

    There is considerable sound science and many studies both in the U.S. and abroad that while fluoridated toothpastes (applied topically, never swallowed) may have a beneficial effect for teeth, there is no evidence at all that fluoridated water helps children’s teeth. Fluoride itself has its own pitfalls, which I won’t go into here, but are worth looking into.

    The single biggest contributor to our current cavity epidemic is not bottled water at all, but that the average American’s diet is nutritionally poor, consisting largely of processed foods, so the enamel in our children does not develop properly, and is weaker than ours was, or that of our parents and grandparents. We have become a society that is overfed and undernourished.

    I would encourage you to look at this recent article from Newsweek about Fluoridated water: http://www.newsweek.com/fluoridation-may-not-prevent-cavities-huge-study-shows-348251

    Thanks for listening, and for your continued quest to help all of stay in the black.

    • tiffanyblitz says:

      Glad to see your comment… I was just coming to the blog to address this issue, since it was so disturbing to me when I read the email.

      • Mary Hunt says:

        Will your share your sources? There’s a lot of hearsay and uproar regarding fluoride, but I’m looking for the scientific white papers and the data that supports the widespread fears.

      • Gina says:

        Here’s some info on fluoride that we can’t ignore. Our children are exposed to billions of chemicals before and after they’re born. Aside from fluoride and vaccines, take a look at the back of your creams, lotions, soaps, shampoos, laundry soaps, and all other personal care and household products. Then take a look at the labels chemicals on food labels. Then question why our children are dealing with so many health problems, mental and physical. It’s not too hard to see what the problem is.

        The Lancet is a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal. It is one of the world’s oldest and best known general medical journals, and has been described as one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world.

        I think we can trust this source Mary.


      • PNW Jenn says:

        Did you read this article in its entirety? What do you think about its conclusion? What does it say about fluoride, specifically?

      • Gina says:

        Did you read the article? What do you think about its conclusion?

        Here’s my conclusion.

        Fluoride has been documented as Bering a developmental neurotoxicant since 2006.

        A meta-analysis of 27 cross-sectional studies of children exposed to fluoride in drinking water, mainly from China, suggests an average IQ decrement of about seven points in children exposed to raised fluoride concentrations.

        The problem with putting fluoride in our drinking water is that we are being medicated whether we choose to or not. The cdc has issued a safe limit of fluoridation in our drinking water, but how can they determine a safe level for every individual. Everyone is different and has different medical needs.

        In closing, fluoridation was originally added to our drinking water for the sole purpose of a means of disposal for chemical companies. It was then determined that because fluoride was beneficial as a Topical dental preventative, so it was allowed to remain in our drinking water at what was determined as a safe level. Fluoride has been documented as being a neurotoxicant, which can cause developmental problems in children. Nowhere can I find what happens when we combine all the different chemicals that are allowed at safe levels in our water, food, health and personal care products and cleaning products. So, even if all of these chemicals are safe at certain levels all found in our water, food, medicine, personal care and household products, who’s to say what happens when they’re combined.

        The fact is, there are billions of chemicals found in our food, medicine, health and beauty and household products that are not required to be tested for safety.

        Fluoride is just another chemical that when used topically may help with cavities, but when added to our drinking water, without our permission, knowing that it is a developmental neurotoxicant and has a safe level limit for every single person, our pregnant mothers, our babies, children, sick, elderly and everyone in between, well I call BS.

      • Gina says:

        Fluoride made the EPA list of chemicals with substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity. Imagine what these chemicals do to a developing fetus. Imagine what these chemicals do to growing children. I don’t understand how anyone can turn a blind eye to all of these chemicals and how they are affecting us. Look at all the health problems in our society. Autism, Alzheimer’s, ADD, AHD, obesity, diabetes, thyroid disease, celiac disease, and explain why all of a sudden these diseases and disorders are running rampant among our people. One word. CHEMICALS. There are no levels that are acceptable in our water, food, medicine and personal care and household products. Most chemicals are not even monitored. They’re being used by the billions by manufactures. Processed foods, fluoridation of our water, personal care and household products, medicine. Literally billions upon billions of chemicals accumulating in our bodies every day.


      • tiffanyblitz says:

        I don’t have the things I’ve read over the years all collected – perhaps I should. A quick Google of cities / counties / countries that prphibit fluoride in the water supply would probably be a good start.

        Your local hardware store has folks in the water treatment area who have plenty of good info on the topical effects, too.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Jeff … I understand your misgivings, but honestly? The article in Newsweek is not conclusive, based on proven testing and so forth. It’s a “might be” kind of thing. The documents I cited are of the type that I believe we can trust. More than that I trust my board-certified dentist, who’s been at this for 40 years. Dr. Oliver is a staunch believer in fluoride and he’s a major health guy, too. Seriously Biff (yeah, that’s what he friends and long-time patients call him because that’s his name) stays current on all applicable research and controversy. He assures me that fluoride is necessary for healthy teeth that will last a lifetime. I go with Dr. Oliver on this.

      • Gina says:

        Anyone who speaks the truth about big pharma and the corporations who feed everyone their lies, is quite controversial.

        The processed food companies, the overuse of pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, and chemicals in our food, water, medicine and personal care and household products are making people sick and slowly killing everyone. Why is it alright for our food, water, medicine and the products we use in our homes daily, to poison us but don’t speak up about it or you will be called “quite controversial.”

        Brainwashing society through the media, being bullied by doctors to take poisonous medications, and the FDA, and USDA are in the pockets of corporations, who profit from our diseases. Processed food companies know that their food causes health problems, pharma knows that their medicine is keeping people alive and sick. The health and beauty and household cleaning industry knows that their products are filled with toxic chemicals, but they don’t care if their products are making us sick.

        Dr. Mercola may be quite controversial, but that’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing. You made it sound like there’s something wrong with speaking up about the poisons we are being exposed to every day.

    • Anna Serena says:

      Another issue that affects how we spend our money for water happens at our airports each day. We are prohibited from bringing any water past TSA security. This means we have to fill our own empty containers with water from a bathroom faucet that often does not taste very good. Regular water faucets seem to have disappeared. I’ve tried using portable carbon filters, but they haven’t worked out very well. Or we have to pay excessively high amounts for the bottled water sold by concessions. ($4 or more!) We should ask our airport authorities to provide us with filtered bottle filling stations, like the one past TSA security in Missoula, Montana. Quick and easy and the price is right!

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