Home > Plastic > My Bottled Water Tastes Like Plastic

My Bottled Water Tastes Like Plastic

December 10, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Have you ever opened a brand of bottled water that you normally drink and found on a particular occasion that it tasted like plastic?

Bottled Water Tastes like Plastic

This most often occurs when you leave plastic bottled water in the car for long periods of time during hot summer days and decide to drink it one day.  The water tastes like plastic.  Or more accurately, what you are tasting is the chemicals that have leached into the water as the plasic “degrades“.  When subjected to high heat, plastic breaks down and melts – especially the kinds used in bottled water.  Besides the sun, another extreme temperature factor can influence bottled water.  One can sometimes taste plastic in the water after you freeze the water bottle to a point where its shape is deformed.  If you drink the water later, after the ice has melted, you may taste the chemicals as well.  This is due to the physical strain that has been placed on the plastic causing structural weakness and making plastic chemicals seep into the water.  In a related example, have you ever tried to destroy your credit card by bending it back and forth and noticed plastic residues scent on your hand afterwards?  This is further proof that physical stress on plastics will weaken its bonding structure.

You may say to yourself that your plastic tasting bottled water has never been sitting in the hot car or in the sun.  It has only been either sitting on the kitchen counter top or in the fridge.  Well, plastic tasting water can also naturally occur when the water has been in the plastic container for years and even for months.  Have you ever noticed that sometimes the water in a plastic container has the stamp “best used by” and a given date?  Most of the time there is a stamped date when the water bottle was produced.  Despite the recent date stamp, the water still may taste like plastic.  What also isn’t accounted for is this:  During shipment, the pallets of water may have been left out in the extreme heat awaiting shipment during the distribution processes from the water company to their ultimate destination in a retail store.

Is “plastic tasting water” safe to drink?  The Food and Drug Administration has given its green light on bottled-water safeness as has the International Life Sciences Institute.  However the American Chemistry Council has cautioned that products made with PET be used only as indicated by the manufacturer.

With this said, if the consumer had a choice between pure drinking water versus drinking water contaminated with plastic chemicals (which is still tested “safe” to drink), which water would you drink?  Or the more pressing issue for parents of young children is whether you would use the “safe” but plastic-tasting water in your baby’s formula.

Remember that this is the same FDA which only banned BPA from baby bottles and “sippy” cups in the summer of 2012 – a little late in the game perhaps – to err on the side of caution.  So which side are we talking about?  (Pardon the small personal rant.)

The unfortunate truth is that despite complaints of bottled-water-tasting plastic, as long as there are no studies showing toxicity from those plastics used in bottling drinks, plastic-bottled water is here to stay for many years to come.

As consumers what can we do?  First of all, we should become more educated on our use of plastics, and we should try to minimize our consumption of water bottled in plastic.  Obtaining a water purifier is an excellent choice, however it is important to buy one from a company who is well known and has “legitimate” water-purification certificates.  Meanwhile, glass-bottled water is indeed an expensive option.  And what can we say about tap water?  Tap water may be a good choice economically, but there are some concerns over its flouride and chlorine treatments.  Also, the regulations for water treatment facilities may be different for each state and even among different counties, which explains the discrepancy in water quality from region to region.  Furthermore, the infrastructure of water pipes is another concern.  A little footnote is that the EPA regulates tap water while the FDA regulates bottled water – and both agencies are underfunded but doing their best with what they have.

If plastic bottled water is the only reasonable and viable choice, one should choose water that has the latest manufacturing date to reduce environmental exposure.  And if one is able to find water still left on the pallet (ie. Costco & Sam’s Club), it is wise to avoid packaged water that is located on the top of the pallet and the sides.  Another telltale sign that your water may be compromised is the deformity in the shape of the bottled water due to extreme heat or physical means.  Lastly, purchase water in places where the turnover of “new” water is high.

The best position to choose packaged water is located in the middle of the pallet and right beneath the top layer.

The best position to choose packaged water is located in the middle of the pallet and right beneath the top layer.

Fortunately water has no flavorings to mask the plastic taste that sometimes affects bottled drinking water.  On the other hand it is more difficult to find out whether or not other flavored soda drinks have this plastic taste.  So to protect yourself from plastic chemicals in flavored sodas, purchase them in glass bottles whenever possible or buy sodas with the latest manufacturing date.

Here are other random thoughts about plastic.

Plastic is indeed convenient.  It is widely used in our society.  Some people say that milk in glass bottles taste better than milk stored in plastic.  Others say that sparkiling water in a glass bottle taste better than sparkling water in a plastic one.  Some even say that sodas in a glass bottle tastes the best.  (Check out the article on Are Colas Safe to Drink?)  Watch out for restaurants that place hot foods in styrofoam or plastic containers – when you see deformity in the plastic container, 10 out of 10 times plastic chemicals will be part of the food whether you taste it or not.  A solution – ask the restaurant to place a foil or parchment paper between the hot food and the styrofoam.  This is specially seen in Thai and Chinese restaurants where food is served very hot.  Also, try to store food in glass or stainless steel containers and use stainless-steel water bottles.  And please don’t reuse plastic water bottles.  It is difficult to clean them, and it is more likely bacterial growth will occur in them.  In addition, bottled water may be just filtered tap water and not the beautiful mountain-stream water as pictured on the label.  If not for yourself, think about your baby’s health since he or she is much less capable of handling toxic substances versus adults.  And please recycle!

All in all, trust your palate.  If something doesn’t taste like it normally does, you may say to yourself, “My bottled water tastes like plastic.”  In such cases, when in doubt always err on the side of caution and avoid drinking it.

References and Additional Readings:

1.  U.S. Food and Drug Administration. February/March 2002 Ask the Regulators — Bottled Water Regulation and the FDA.  http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/BuyStoreServeSafeFood/ucm077079.htm

2.  International Life Sciences Institute.  Packaging Materials 1. PET for Food Packaging Applications.  http://www.ilsi.org/europe/publications/r2000pac_mat1.pdf

3.  New York Times.  F.D.A. Makes it Official:  BPA Can’t Be Used in Baby Bottles and Cups.  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/science/fda-bans-bpa-from-baby-bottles-and-sippy-cups.html?_r=0

  1. December 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    To clear up some confusion. the plastic that is used with bottled water do NOT contain BPA nor does it contain any phtalates. BPA is found in some polycarbonates – which was previously used in baby bottles and some sports bottles. Bottled water uses PET plastics with a SPI (Society of the Plastics Industry) classification of “1”.

    However the real question lies whether “BPA-free” products mean that you’re plastic is safe some from other environmental hormones ie. chemicals that mimic estrogen?

    Check out Does BPA free or Phthalates free mean it’s Safe?

  2. December 20, 2012 at 11:38 am

    “The unfortunate truth is that despite complaints of bottled water tasting like plastic, as long as there is no studies showing toxicity from those plastics which are used in bottling drinks, plastic bottled water is here to stay for many years to come.”

    The above statement is somewhat perplexing… But another real question may be what is the FDA’a definition of toxicity which bans BPA from plastics and in the same way allows other chemicals in plastic which show estrogenic activity or other hormonal disrupters to be deemed “safe”? What kind of studies does it take for the FDA to recognize safe or toxic levels?

    • coopa
      February 2, 2014 at 1:23 am

      Still no real answer safe of not safe

  3. Sean
    March 27, 2014 at 3:37 am

    I just happened upon this page after tasting plastic in my Refreshe bottled water. I was buying Crystal Geyser bottled water, but it was making my mouth burn. The irritation was very slight, but i noticed it. It bothered me enough to stop drinking Crystal Geyser brand. I guess it has something to do with their filtration system? I e-mailed Crystal Geyser, but they didn’t answer. Now, i’m trying Refreshe purified water from Safeway, but notice plastic flavor. I have sensitive taste buds, so i can always taste contaminates in my food or drink. I taste plastic often. It’s in so many products we consume everyday. Advice: Drink out of cans of soda instead of bottles, and avoid those TV dinners in plastic trays. Also avoid polystyrene containers at all restaurants. And avoid polystyrene cups for coffee, too. I tasted plastic in my Hungry Man fried chicken TV dinner. Avoid those big bags of Monsanto brand chips at Smart&Final. If you have one in your area…i’m in California. I also tasted plastic in the toppings of my Round Table pizza. I guess they use plastic containers for their toppings. And i tasted plastic in the chopped onions in my taco at Baja Fresh (same reason, i guess). And i also tasted plastic in the Jalapeno peppers in my chicken sandwich from Jack in the Box. The acidic peppers cause plastic to leach more, i think. This was a strong plastic flavor that i tasted in the food, not something imagined. Don’t believe the studies that say the plastic isn’t there. They’re obviously not true, because i can taste the plastic in my food, and it’s strong.

    • March 27, 2014 at 11:30 am

      Although I lean more towards objective science and studies for verification. Subjectively, I have to say our taste buds are one of the most understated “tools” we have in protecting us from bacterial and chemical contaminants in our food. Although the levels of sensitivity varies between people, it nonetheless is able to differentiate between different things in a wide spectrum. Taste buds frankly protects us from eating spoiled food and guards the door to our insides.

      Maybe it was a typo.. but under your advice section, I believe you meant that drinking out of glass bottles is better than aluminum cans – “aluminum” is another subject for review. However, glass bottles are indeed proven to be better keeper of food nutrients than plastic containers.

      All in all, I agree with your experience. Thank you for bringing more attention to the plastic chemicals we inadvertantly consume.

      • Sean
        April 1, 2014 at 9:25 pm

        Yeah, i meant don’t buy soda in the plastic 2 liter bottles. The glass ones would be fine, of course. But even most of the 16 oz size bottles are plastic, unless you can find soda in glass bottles?
        Thanks for not thinking i’m crazy. :o) I just have sensitive taste buds. Maybe i could get a job as a food taster? LOL

  4. Sean
    March 27, 2014 at 3:50 am

    p.s. Also avoid meat stored on those polystyrene containers. I really tasted polystyrene in the chicken. And avoid those personal size frozen pizzas stored in plastic…some are really plastic tasting, i noticed.

  5. B A Steele
    October 12, 2016 at 8:40 am

    I have water delivered in five gallon size from Crystal Water (Florida) six at a time, I occasionally have one in same delivery that tastes of plastic. I drain it, try another bottle and it’s ok. I’m beginning to think they throw in a few older bottles in with fresher bottles.

    • October 12, 2016 at 9:41 am

      It very might be true or it could be that one of the bottles was out baking in the sun for a long time creating the plastic taste. (This could happen “prior” or “during” the delivery process.)

  6. Teri Harrison
    April 21, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Thank you for that information it was very informative. I purchased a few cases of Kirkland bottled water and this batch is undrinkable. My pregnant daughter asked me last night if I had had in in a hot car because it tasted like plastic. This morning I took a bottle and it did indeed tasted awful like plastic and chemicals. I wonder if anyone else out there has had this problem.

  7. Gerald ewing
    June 15, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    we just bought ” a Kinetico whole house water softer” system and I swear the tap water tastes like plastic. My wife says it is fine. It is non-electric, and uses big black plastic cylinders outdoors.

  8. October 29, 2017 at 11:32 am

    Well… i’ve been puzzeled during the past few years why is it that in the past 50 years there are so many cancer cases. I belive that the answer lies in the food people eat, the air we breathe, the watter we drink and the information we consume. Put a human or any other animal under this conditions and he will not make it to the end of his life. Be careful out there.

  9. Joe Pala
    March 4, 2018 at 2:28 am

    In finding this page, I guess I’ll put in my two cents worth of feedback. Year in and year out me and my wife have been drinking bottle water. Lately, say over the last year give or take. I’ve been noticing a strong plastic taste in the water, brand ‘Kentwood’. It seems all of our concerns have the same topic and can only hope this taste we’re encountering doesn’t hurt or causes any ill will upon us. I just hope that the FDA keeps PET and BPA In check, regularly.

  10. Donald Spiker Junior
    July 19, 2018 at 1:29 am

    I must say the article was very interesting and I do remember getting my case of water off the top of the palate one of the few times I’ve had my water tastes like plastic. Thank you Don Spiker

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