Which Bottled Water Is the Least Bad?



“Water ball” by @Doug88888 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Mei Aguon, Reporter


Let me get a few things out of the way. One: You must be lying to yourself if you say water “just tastes like water” or “it’s all the same.” What does water even taste like to you? Water has no flavor. It’s all the other things added in–the minerals, the alkalinity, et cetera–that give it a distinguishing taste at all. Those things matter, especially to a picky connoisseur like me. Two: Before you wonder why I’m taking such a firm stand on this particular hill, really consider it. Our lifeblood is water. Literally, our blood is mostly water. We are so dependent on water that our shrivelly human bodies can’t last three days without it. That one Spongebob episode was just how humans are without water, but slightly faster. So the question you REALLY should be asking is, why haven’t MORE people weighed in about the quality of the precious lifeblood going into their bodies daily? That’s something to think about. But don’t think about it too long, because I’m about to quench (water pun) that wonder. This list is ranked from worst to best, and it only includes ones I’ve personally tasted.

Nestle PureLife 

I’m ranking this last not necessarily for taste. For Nestle, that taste is regular old tap water. This is mostly due to the fact that Nestle is such a shady company, it deserves to be last. Also, is it just me nitpicking, or are the bottles weirdly misshapen? Nitpicking is the whole point of this article. Anyway, Nestle gets a 0/10; do better. 


Arrowhead claims to be spring water from the mountains. I think when the company extracted the water from the mountain springs and sent it to be cleaned and bottled, they accidentally picked up a big chunk of mountain and ground that up with it. Along with some rust scraped out of someone’s old pipes. Now that I think about it, Arrowhead might be lying about where their water comes from. Maybe it comes from a factory. Maybe all of the bottled Arrowhead water passes through the same 70-year-old rusty pipe and that’s why it tastes like that. Awful aftertaste, 0.8/10.


This is going to be a long one.

Surprisingly low on the list, considering how this may be the most bougie of all waters. The bottle says it comes from Fiji, but then again, no one actually checks if water companies are telling the truth. Please ask yourself if you knew the geographical location of Fiji before the water came around. 

Fiji Water itself says that it is “artesian” and takes pride in its “soft mouthfeel.” I think water companies have too much allotted time to prepare slogans for their labels. None of these words make any sense. I had to look up “artesian”; if you wanted to know, it’s a special way of drawing water at an angle. I bet Fiji put that on their site because it sounds like “artisan” and people never read water bottle labels with their dictionary at the ready.

As for the actual quality: we save this water “for guests.” The reason it’s for guests only is that you would never actually want to drink this water at home, by yourself. It has a dull metallic, salty undertone. (That must be the electrolytes that they brag about on their site too.) They were right about the mouthfeel; it is definitely soft. I feel like the wrong demographic for this water. I’ve never drunk other bottled water and said, “Hmm, it would really enrich my water-drinking experience if my mouth felt downy afterward, like a baby goose.”

The consistency of the water is what puzzles me the most: it’s slightly viscous like you could make Orbeez with it.  But while it most certainly acts like a liquid, it’s simultaneously dry. When it’s refrigerated, drinking it seems to actually leach all the moisture off of your tongue. I don’t think water is supposed to do anything listed above. Overall, very weird and pretentious. 3.2/10, still way ahead of Arrowhead.


This water tastes like something aliens would drink. Scratch that. If genius aliens from a planet devoid of water took us captive and stuck us in alien ant farms to study us, and they had the Wikipedia definition of what water was, this is the kind of substance they’d synthesize and drop down to us in little alien pipettes. This substance can sustain life; that much is true.

Reviews say it tastes like sulfur, but to me, it tastes blue; not sure how to explain otherwise. This is the bluest water ever bottled. There’s a blue tinge about the bottle itself to further add to the blueness. They made this water more watery than any water I’ve had before. It tastes so much like water I’ve forgotten what water actually tastes like, and it terrifies me. This water made me go insane. I have only drunk it three or four times.

Back to tangible measures: when cold, it has the same moisture-sucking quality as Fiji water and the same weird viscosity. Like Fiji but a little bit better, save for the existential crisis it comes with. 4.7/10. 


You’ve seen this water before. At Disneyland, the mall, the airport, the zoo, and the movies. The packaging is intended to look refreshing and clear. like an oasis in a desert, and for good reason. I have always been immensely thirsty when I come across it.

I think this company had a ploy: strategically place it so it’s the only water you see for your whole venture into the mall/Disneyland/zoo/whatever; somewhere you have to do a lot of walking. In fact, it could be the only water for miles and miles. Picture this: you’re delirious, parched, and lost in the middle of Toy Story Land. You see the Aquafina water bottles sitting neatly in rows in those outdoor fridge trough things, their price tags gleaming in the scorching California sun. Do you drop dead at the feet of a Jessie cosplayer, or do you fork over the money? If you’re still alive reading this, you know what you had to do.

The exception is the movies, so maybe the company had a different psychological trick in mind then. You’re not allowed to (not supposed to, at least) take outside food and drink into the movies. You panic. “How will I survive two hours without a delicious refreshment in my hand?” you cry.  You have a choice again, and you really don’t want the cleaner guys to find you decomposing in the theater. Especially not in the Minions: Rise of Gru theater. You pay.

The taste is all right. It’s mineral-y. It doesn’t have the problems that Fiji has. The bottles they sell you in public spaces are enormous and stupidly narrow at the bottom. Once you’ve rescued yourself from the throes of death, you realize you have no idea what to do with all that water. You’re alive, but now you might pee yourself. 5.6/10


You probably don’t know about this brand. It’s not sold where there’s outdoor foot traffic. You have to get it at Costco or Sam’s Club, and it’s in big heavy bottles, but you can pour them into glasses. You aren’t forced to buy them, so the fact that they are huge and come in packs of 24 doesn’t really matter to me. The water is alkaline, more basic than regular water thanks to some fancy process at the factory, and it tastes good. I don’t think about water pH much–as long as I’m drinking actual tasty water and not fake alien liquid, I’m fine–but the extra process is nice.

Unfortunately, this water was linked to cases of non-viral hepatitis, so I can’t rate it that high. 6/10.


I am lumping two Kirkland waters into this rating: Kirkland regular and Kirkland alkaline water. I like them both. The best part about the regular water is that it is regular. Not mediocre; regular. That is a very big difference. It tastes like normal, not-tampered-with water. The labels don’t talk about their “state-of-the-art electrolytic technology” or “spungulous mouthfeel.” It has nothing to hide. The best part is that it’ s sold in big packs and it isn’t kept one degree above freezing in stores, so I can drink it at my favorite temperature: just below room temp. The bottles are nice and cylindrical, ergonomically designed to hold the perfect amount of liquid. On the other hand, the alkaline water comes in tall bottles for pouring and has a pretty good taste. Less sweet than tap water and the regular water, but not gross. Apparently better for your health, and for opening up your blood vessels, but I haven’t noticed any major life changes yet. When I grow up, I’m bulk-buying Kirkland water instead of buying a Brita filter. This water leads me to bad financial decisions. 7.2/10.