Bottled water is now one of the largest industries in the world. Studies indicated that over half of all Americans drink bottled water, spending a lot more on the bottled water than for the tap water due to the misconception that bottled water is safer or healthier than tap water.
Bottled water is now the most profitable business, the fastest growing multi billion dollar segment of the entire beverage industry. However, studies show that most of these bottled water also comes from municipal sources and is treated before it is bottled.
Bottled water may undergo several forms of treatment. The most popular of these treatments is the distillation, where the water is turned into a vapor so that minerals too heavy to vaporize are left behind before the vapors are condensed into water again. Reverse osmosis, where the water is forced through membranes to remove minerals and absolute 1 micron filtration, where the water is sent through filters to remove particles that are sized more than a micron are also popularly used treatments. The treatment that almost all the bottled companies use is ozonization, wherein the ozone gas is sent through the water for disinfestations.
Bottled water, even though as much as 240 to 10,000 times more expensive than the tap water, is still very popular because it is perceived to be comparatively safer and of higher quality than tap water. Expensive imported water sold in smaller bottles is even more expensive. However, scares about contaminated municipal water have even many low-income families opting for bottled water. Also, many people drink bottled water as a healthy alternative beverage to soft drinks and alcohol.
The bottled water industry boosts sales by frequent advertising the fact that bottled water is pure or entirely free of contaminants. Also, bottled water does not contain chlorine or other harmful chemicals. However, this is only in the case when the bottled water has been really taken from a well or a spring and not just advertised that it is.
More and more people are choosing bottled water as it is marketed and viewed as a light, clear, caffeine-free, salt-free, and sweetener-free healthy alternative to soft drinks. Others prefer it mostly out of concern about the quality of the tap water. Either way, the main reason for the explosion in bottled water sales is public perception, fueled by heavy industry advertising.