Why does water taste different depending on the brand?

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Why does water taste different depending on the brand?

In: Chemistry

It’s called mineral water because it has various minerals in it. Different brands take theirs water from different sources, and these have different minerals from each other

If you’ve ever tasted distilled water, it tastes “funny”, kind of flat.

The flavor of water mostly comes from dissolved minerals and gases in the water. Bottled municipal water may have some filtration/treatment/sterilization at the bottling plant, but it will most likely taste like whatever the local municipal water tastes like. Fancier brands will be from springs, or wells that have a unique mineral composition, and possibly natural or added carbon dioxide. The CO2 creates carbonic acid which gives it a slightly sour taste.

Others will treat the water through distillation and/or reverse osmosis and then add minerals to give it a desired flavor profile.

Different brands of water will come from different sources (lakes, rivers, whatever) and will be filtered/purified in different ways. Some brands may or may not even add in more things after this (quite a few seem to add trace amounts of sodium).

The combination of all of this means that different brands have water that is measurably different. Band A might have more calcium in it, Band B might have almost no potassium. The collective result; some may taste slightly different.

It would actually be weirder if all water brands tasted the same. Only “pure” water is easy to manufacture, and although humans aren’t amazing with our sense of taste, we can certainly pick out important salts.

Water is Water. What makes one water taste different from another is the difference in the mineralal content of that water.

Our taste for water is a refinement of reptilian tastes for sanitary water. Those tastes are instinctual. No one teaches taste when it comes to water, but we all agree on what tastes bad.

I like clean, clear, mountain spring water. That description should sound good to you too. And there is a reason. That water is cleaner and free of surface water algae, insect larvae and fecal coliforms.

A spring is where an underground water source surfaces. It is flowing because more water is pushing it up to the surface. And that continuing flow over millions of years has washed the underground source of that water so much that the mineral content is very, very low. That underground flow has also filtered out most organics too. But you didn’t need to know all that. You knew from the original description that you’d like it.

Back to water companies. Water is just water, except for the minerals, so bottlers find a good source of water and modify it through known puriification methods to subtract and/or add minerals in order to improve the taste and purity of their products.

Finally, big brand names establish standards for their product water that all of their bottlers must meet. That means X brand water in California will taste like X brand water in Iowa.