The official bottled water power rankings (2024)

The official bottled water power rankings (1)

We have a lot to get to, so let’s jump right into the official Bottled Water Power Rankings.

First: Everyone should have access to safe drinking water. This piece is not an endorsem*nt of bottled water. Plastic bags, bottles and takeout containers are all an enormous detriment to the Earth. Get yourself a reusable bottle and, when buying water, look for nonplastic containers (most of the waters in my top 10 come in more environmentally friendly glass bottles).

Bottled water is a booming, multibillion-dollar industry: Global sales from 109 countries grew 73% between 2010 and 2020, making it one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, according to the United Nations. If you’re over a certain age, you likely remember when the concept of bottled water was fairly laughable. Well, those years are long gone. The market is now drowning in bottled water brands, and it can be a mind-numbing endeavor to parse them out. That’s why I’m here.

For these rankings, I evaluated brands of still water by taste and ranked them, from best to worst. There are no sparkling waters. Bottled water is also a blanket term: I tried canned waters and boxed waters, even a water that comes in a bag. I went to six grocery stores, two drugstores, a liquor store and two convenience stores to find as many commonly available waters as possible, but I’m sure I missed a few. Nonetheless, I tried more than 70 different waters for this piece. Please clap.

To prepare, I had a fun chat with a water sommelier (yes, a water sommelier!), Martin Riese, who gave me some helpful water pointers, some of which I’ll try to quickly summarize (Riese did not participate in the rankings): First, water is interesting and has varying flavors and textures, like any other beverage. (“I’m just amazed how different water can taste,” said Riese.) Secondly, there’s no need to buy bottled water for the purposes of hydrating; just get a good filter. Lastly, when buying water, look for natural spring water instead of purified water. Riese called it shocking that some companies can make money selling what is essentially purified tap water.

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I learned some valuable things while writing this: 1) Waters absolutely do not all taste the same. 2) There are too many varieties of bottled water. 3) Drinking water is good. But don’t overdo it. Now, let’s get drinking, shall we?

The official bottled water power rankings (2)

1) Mountain Valley

Mountain Valley, spring water from Arkansas, takes top marks. It’s light and clean, barely sweet. As you drink, the velvety texture yields to just a suggestion of a mineral aftertaste, like a sip from a good water fountain on a hot day. I’m not really weighing the attractiveness of packaging in these rankings, but Mountain Valley’s, a dark green bottle, is one of the best.

2) Aqua Carpatica

I found Aqua Carpatica, spring water from Romania, to be a very good water. It’s opulent, smooth and rolls off the tongue with little aftertaste.

The official bottled water power rankings (3)

3) Castle Rock

This is a good spring water with a crisp flavor, like a morning hike in the mountains. I didn’t detect much aftertaste.

4) Acqua Panna

Acqua Panna is an Italian spring water bottled by San Pellegrino, which you may know from its sparkling waters and fruit-flavored drinks. I couldn’t find any faults with this water, which drinks smoothly and has a refined finish.

5) Fiji

You will either love or hate Fiji, which has a taste you could pick out of a lineup from a mile away. It’s grassy, almost fruity. Fiji, from a “sustainable ancient artesian aquifer,” according to its packaging, borders on spa water. You say it tastes like sunscreen; I say it’s refreshing and delicious.

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6) Starkey

This is the curveball at the top of my list — it was the most interesting-tasting water I tried and will be the most divisive. It’s thick, with an almost savory flavor. There’s a late sweetness that lingers and a vaguely sulfuric smell, like bathing in an actual hot spring. It’s not for everybody. But if you see this in the store, give it a try. I wouldn’t necessarily make coffee with it, but I could see it going great with a burger or plate of pasta.

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7) Hawaiian Springs

An excellent water with a distinctive flavor. Has a slightly baked, petrichor-like taste, like water on hot asphalt.

8) Tahoe

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This is a very good water from a “protected artesian aquifer” — there’s a light, soft sweetness with some minerality. It comes in what looks like a wine bottle, so you feel extra fancy.

9) Antipodes

You’ll see the word “aquifer” a lot when you’re sampling bottled waters, so, despite getting a D in the geology class I took in college, I’ll try to describe what that means. An aquifer is basically a layer of underground rock or rock-like material that allows water to pass through it. (There will be a quiz later.) Antipodes water, in a tasteful glass bottle and with a high price tag (I paid $7 for a liter), comes from a New Zealand aquifer. The water is very good, though — simple and light, with just a hint of minerality.

10) Icelandic Glacial

Icelandic is rich and full on the tongue, and lightly alkaline. Overall, very good.

11) Solán de Cabras

Spring water from Spain. It has an almost chilled flavor even at room temperature, like it’s been stored in a clay pot.

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12) Evian

This spring water from France is one of the original status-symbol waters. Very clean and crisp on initial taste, but there’s a distinctive finish that veers slightly sour.

13) Erewhon

Spring water from Erewhon is, as you might predict, good. Very light and inoffensive, without much aftertaste or lingering flavor.

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14) Waiakea

Described by the company as “pure Hawaiian volcanic water” from the Big Island of Hawai’i. There’s a slight sweetness with a clean finish.

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15) Arrowhead

Arrowhead spring water is probably the best of the common, inexpensive waters I tried. It’s light, crisp, with a slightly astringent finish. It’s pretty nice.

16) Hawai’i Volcanic

Described as a “sustainably sourced and lava filtered” water, this is gentle on the tongue and light going down.

17) Tru Alka

A purified water with a flat, grounding alkalinity. It feels stable. There’s a hint of sourness, but it’s nowhere as bothersome as in some of the waters further down the list.

The official bottled water power rankings (6)

18) CanWater

This spring water from Alberta, Canada, is interesting: There is almost a butteriness, or slight caramel or burnt sugar quality to it. This comes in a can, as you maybe guessed from the name, and the pop-top splashed water everywhere when I opened it.

19) Purely Sedona

Good spring water from Arizona with a slight lingering dryness on the finish.

20) Flow

I liked this water, which tastes full but with a fairly sharp mineral note on the tail. Comes in a box and, to its immense credit, does not taste like a box.

21) Path

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I liked Path, one of the few purified waters to make it into the A-tier. There was a faint, crisp sweetness to it, which didn’t cross the line into cloying.

22) Origin

This is an interesting spring water from Maine that’s tasty but a little on the heavier side. A slightly hoppy smell with a faint sulphuric taste.

The official bottled water power rankings (7)

23) Liquid Death

Look, I dislike the post-hipster, five-panel-hat-wearing marketing as much as you do. I have no desire to murder my thirst, whatever that might entail. But this certainly isn’t a bad water. It has a pleasing roundness with an initial metallic hit on the palate, I’m assuming from the can it comes in. No major aftertaste but a slight stickiness on the tongue.

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24) Mananalu

It was during this tasting process I learned that Jason Momoa, he of the untamed locks and smoldering eyebrows, has his own bottled water. The verdict? Decent — marginally dry aftertaste and manages to avoid too much of that canned metallic flavor.

25) Whole Foods Italian Still Mineral Water

It coats the tongue and has a slight minerality near the finish.

26) Voss+ Aquamin

Is it bad that I actually liked this better than regular Voss? Whereas Voss is a Norwegian artesian water, the first ingredient on Voss+ Aquamin is purified water. But overall, I thought this was better — crisp with no aftertaste.

27) Cirro

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This Californian spring water is not overly alkaline, but there’s a very slight baking-soda-like note to this. It’s decent.

28) Kroger

Not a bad spring water for the price ($1.29 per gallon). It’s crisp but is slightly undone by a plasticky taste.

The official bottled water power rankings (8)

29) Cascade Mountain

There’s a slight mustiness to this Oregonian spring water, like at an old bookstore or attic. Who knows? You may like that.

30) Alkaline88

This is one of the better purified waters with added electrolytes — and there are a lot of them. A light, sweet taste that yields to salinity.

31) Crystal Geyser

This is another common spring water along with Arrowhead — but, with a lightly skunky taste and dry finish, I didn’t like it as much.

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32) Richard’s Rainwater

This canned water felt a bit tannic on the tongue, like catching raindrops in your mouth. As advertised, in other words.

33) Trader Joe’s Natural Mountain Spring

There was a bit of that tangy electrolyte quality to this ubiquitous spring water and slight dryness on the aftertaste. Like the bottle of Crystal Geyser I tried above, this water came from a spring in Olancha, Calif. They tasted similar in some ways too. Coincidence?

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34) Big Chill

A perfectly fine water. It has that slight sourness and a saccharine tail but it’s not as bad as some of those further down the list.

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35) Simple Truth

Simple Truth is a Kroger brand. This spring water, sourced from Michigan, has a dull sweetness, a little like burned sugar.

36) Eternal

There’s good body to this spring water, but it has a chalky aftertaste.

37) Zenwtr

Zenwtr is vapor-distilled, which is just a fancy way to say it’s purified water. It’s not bad — smooth with a slightly dry aftertaste.

38) Skyra

Not a bad water — bright but does have that slight Smartwater-like quality that I don’t care for (I’ll explain further when we get to Smartwater).

39) Just Water

A little treacly on the back of the tongue, and the sweetness lingers just a touch too long. This comes in a box and manages to not taste like a box — extra points for that.

40) Lifewtr

LeBron James is a spokesperson for this purified water — I wonder if he drinks it? It’s unctuous on the tongue but leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste.

41) Voss

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Norwegian Voss water, in its attractive cylindrical packaging, strikes me as the ultimate status water — the water you’d see on an influencer’s Instagram Story or what would accompany bottle service at Avalon or Exchange L.A.

But was there a little bit of a plasticky taste to this? I kept sipping, once, twice, to make sure I wasn’t imagining it. But I kept picking up on it. Otherwise it’s a decent water.

42) Ice Canyon

An OK spring water with a slightly metallic finish.

43) The Well

There’s a slight staleness that mars an otherwise crisp Armenian spring water.

44) Talking Rain AQA

This one was alkaline-forward; it reminded me a little of a baking soda toothpaste.

45) Ophora

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I had big expectations for this, the most expensive water I purchased ($14 for 750 milliliters). The bottle is covered in wellness mumbo-jumbo: “Nano pure.” “Re-structured.” “Hyper-oxygenated.” I liked it on an initial sip, but a cheap, plastic undertone followed that was not what I expected for that price.

46) Weird Water

I like the marketing on Weird Water, a canned water that says it donates all profits to charity. You’ll see a kind of inner monologue from the anthropomorphic can on the back, wondering why you’re reading it. Sound weird? I guess that’s the point.

I liked the water itself fine — it’s good, not great. Crisp but with a slightly musty aftertaste.

47) Open Water

Extra points for being in a can, but some of that tinned flavor has leached into the water, in a slight “I’m in my bunker waiting for doomsday” kind of way. Some sweetness to this otherwise decent water.

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48) Pure Life

It’s interesting to me that even though Pure Life is strongly associated with the Nestlé brand, the word “Nestlé” doesn’t actually appear anywhere on the bottle. Is it trying for a rebrand? An otherwise solidly average water with a slightly chalky mouthfeel.

49) Defy

This water, co-founded by ex-NFL running back Terrell Davis, is solidly middle-of-the-road. It has that slight sourness common to many purified waters that tastes almost chloric.

The official bottled water power rankings (10)

50) Augi

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Augi is a purified water from the Leesburg, Va., municipal water supply. There was a slight sulphuric taste — not a bad thing, per se — but it bordered on fishy.

51) Glacier Isle

A decent but unremarkable spring water from Iceland I picked up at Rite Aid. It had a clean initial taste but left a slight dryness in the throat.

52) Core Hydration

Comes in a cute, ergonomically shaped bottle to fit your hand. This purified water with added electrolytes and minerals had an odd sports-drink-like quality to it.

53) Smartwater

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We finally arrive at Smartwater, a vapor-distilled product owned by a Coca-Cola subsidiary. Smartwater has a very identifiable flavor that I’d describe as an artificial sweetness that transforms to a tongue-coating sourness. I’ll draw a parallel to Gatorade: There’s the initial fruit flavor of whatever color you’ve picked out of the refrigerated case, but then the sodium kicks in, turning the drink a little more sour, more saline.

I don’t mind that in a sports drink — but I don’t want it in my water. Bottom line is: I don’t love Smartwater, nor its lingering aftertaste.

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54) Refreshe

Refreshe is a purified water that has some of that sourness I described above, as well as a vague chloric undertone.

55) Smartwater Alkaline

This is similar to regular Smartwater but has a higher pH level. I find the sour flavor to be more pronounced.

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56) Whole Foods 365

This is technically a spring water but tastes a lot like some of the more average purified waters in the group: sour with a dry aftertaste. Not my favorite but, at 69 cents per bottle, a nice price.

The official bottled water power rankings (12)

57) 1907water

This water from “an ancient artesian source” in New Zealand has that similar mouth-coating sweet-sourness as Smartwater. Many of the waters further down the list taste like this.

58) 7-Select

Purified water from 7-Eleven. See taste notes for 1907water.

59) Big Win

Purified water from Rite Aid. See taste notes for 7-Select water.

60) BodyArmor

This water, made by reverse osmosis (which seems like a fancy way to say “purified water”), has that Smartwater-like taste but with a slightly bitter finish.

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61) Boxed Water

I wanted to rank this higher because it comes in a box and is better for the environment. But folks … this just tastes like a box. It tastes like a wet box. It’s hard to taste much else. And as we’ve seen from other boxed waters further up this list, that doesn’t have to be the case.

62) Kirkland Signature

Has that signature purified taste. Slight saccharine flavor.

63) Crystal Lake

A premium brand of water put out by Rite Aid. The packaging and taste are similar to that of Smartwater. A note on the name, though: Couldn’t this make drinkers think about hockey mask-wearing maniacs?

The official bottled water power rankings (13)

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64) Action

Has that familiar sports-drink sourness. This even comes in what looks like a Gatorade bottle. Not a fan.

65) Dasani

Dasani, owned by Coca-Cola, was disappointing. The bottle actually popped when I opened it, like a soda would. There is that familiar sports-drink sourness, but it has an astringent quality on the finish that leaves you oddly parched. Is it possible to finish a bottle of water thirstier than when you began?

66) Proud Source

There was an unfortunate manufactured taste to this spring water from Idaho. It tasted almost like wet paper, which is strange considering it comes in a metal bottle.

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67) Ramona

Ramona is a California spring water. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really taste much more than the plastic jug it came in. The bottle I purchased had a “best by” date in 2025, so that wasn’t the issue.

68) CBD Living

I’m not saying the CBD lifestyle market is a grift, but I’ve never personally felt a benefit from any CBD product I’ve tried. On a pure enjoyment level, this water had a slight packaged taste with a lingering bitterness. Not my favorite.

The official bottled water power rankings (14)

69) Perfect Hydration

There’s an almost metallic skunkiness to this water, which turns bitter at the end.

70) Essence pH10

Sort of stale and bitter, with a dry finish. Tasted a bit like a vitamin.

71) Essentia

This had a strange skunkiness to it with a lingering sourness. I tried it, and now you don’t have to.

72) HFactor

This had a long, sour-milk-like taste with an equally long, bitter finish. On the packaging of this hydrogen-infused water, which is a bag, the company recommends you consume it within 30 minutes of opening the package. You mean this could taste worse?

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73) Blk

Oh no. Oh my gosh, no. I realized upon buying this black-colored water, “infused with fulvic,” that it wasn’t going to taste like regular water, but it tasted and smelled like dry erase marker. Bitter and sour. No thanks.

74) Aquafina

I’m mixed on the entertainment merits of Awkwafina, who helped bring us the transcendent “The Farewell” in 2019 as well as the somewhat less transcendent “The Scuttlebutt” earlier this year, but I do have one question: Will Awkwafina be known forever as Awkwafina? Will she be a 90-year-old grandmother who goes by Awkwafina? These are the thoughts that occupy my brain space.

But I digress. Aquafina (no relation) lets out a slight “pff” gassy noise and actually smells like a soda when you open it. That’s the first red flag. What follows is a co*ke Zero-like cloyingness (even though Pepsi makes Aquafina) and a chemical-wash-like taste. You can and should do better.

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The official bottled water power rankings (2024)
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