What Does 'Bottled at the Source' Mean?

plastic water bottle

Bottled water companies use lots of marketing language to try and get their brands to stand out against their competitors. After all, despite the availability of inexpensive home filtration solutions, Americans will spend over $7 Billion on bottled water in 2021. And the more we spend on bottled water, the more marketers will spend chasing after thirsty customers. But in doing so many of them bend the rules by making confusing claims about the origins of their water, trying to dupe consumers about where their water comes from. Some of the most common misinformation found in bottled water messaging is about source or origin. Brands will pull water from a tap in Florida and call it ‘spring water’ just because it came from the ground, or add in some calcium and call it ‘alkaline water’. Or, in more of the more egregious cases, filling giant containers with well water and shipping it from Hawaii on a freighter to a bottling plant in Long Beach and calling it ‘Spring water from Hawaii’. This corner cutting is deceptive and bad for a brand’s reputation. As part of a compliance settlement with the California Department of Public Health, the Waikea brand was forced to change the labeling on its bottles. This is a heavy price to pay for making false claims about the provenance of water that is available from the tap to Islanders living on the Big Island and then bottling it in California.

Why it Matters

Water that comes from artesian aquifers has a unique provenance that contributes to its naturally occurring pH and preferred taste. The organic minerals found in natural artesian spring water, like magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium bicarbonate contribute to elevated levels of naturally occurring pH and make it taste better. So it holds that bottle water this special at the source where it comes out of the earth’s surface, preserves its high pH and great taste. This is why Fuji Water and Hawaiian Springs Water, which are both bottled at the source, taste so good. They come from natural artesian aquifers, which produce the cleanest, purest and best tasting water on earth. If you take water from an aquifer at the bottom of volcano and put it into a giant plastic container and ship it across the Pacific Ocean, the water will lose much of the characteristics that make it special. Changes in air pressure and temperature will adversely affect the taste and quality of the water, and the only reason to do it is to cut costs. The truth is, when you see ‘bottled at the source’ on the label of a mass produced bottled water brand, it only means it was bottled shortly after it was taken from the tap. But water bottled at a plant at the base of a volcano where the aquifer is, means something and you can taste the difference.

As consumers we have lots of choices, and this is especially true when it comes to drinking water. But the convenience of choice comes with the implied burden of educating ourselves about the choices we make. There is an endless supply of information about drinking water available on the internet, so why not use it?

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

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by Steve Jortsman