When you buy bottled water, are you really getting what you're paying for?

Real Simple magazine estimates that 48% of bottled water is actually filtered municipal tap water. If you want to get bottled water that isn't tap water, try looking for the words "natural spring water" on the bottle.

How much will bottled water cost you?

I have talked for years about the enormous waste of money that drinking bottled water can be. One historical figure I've seen suggests that a dedicated drinker can blow as much as $1,400 a year on bottled water. That is big bucks for you to throw away!

But the reality is bottled water is getting cheaper. When you buy it in a case, you can pay about 8 cents per bottle at places like Costco and Aldi. At Sam's Club it costs about10 cents a bottle. Even at traditional supermarkets, you can typically get it for around 15 cents a bottle in a case. 

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Explore these alternatives to bottled water

As for me, I'm a filtered tap water guy. I have a Contigo bottle that holds about a liter and a half. It's BPA-free. I typically refill it three times during my broadcasts. I'm saving money everytime I do that.

Now I've been reading how industry is adjusting to the increase in people drinking more water. One of the first industries to transition has been the water fountain business. The Wall Street Journal  reports more water fountains are being built with automatic sensors to trigger the water to start filling up your plastic bottle without you having to touch anything.

I know there are scares from time to time with the safety of tap water. But I continue to believe tap water is safer than bottled water because it's tested many times a day in most municipalities. Bottled water, on the other hand, is only tested several times a year in some facilities.

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The health argument against bottled water

Recently, I heard a new health argument against bottled water that I want to bring to your attention. An Australian study cited by The Washington Post found that kids who don't drink fluoridated tap water have a more than 50% higher incidence of cavities.

I recall back when fluoride was first introduced into public water supplies in America. At that time, there were opponents who said it was a Communist plot to poison the kids of America. But in reality fluoride in our drinking supply just reduces dental decay. And it's really dentists who deserve all the credit for getting fluoride in the water because they believed in it so strongly, even though it ultimately reduced their income.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drinking fluoridated public water can reduce cavities in kids by as much as 37% and in adults by as much as 47%. If you still insist on drinking bottled water, talk with your dentist about other ways (such as a fluoride rinse) to preserve your family's dental health.


Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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