Water bottles
My throat should not feel dry after drinking water. Image: Dasser Kamran/Fulcrum.
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Not to call out names or anything, but Dasani and Aquafina have disgusting, non-hydrating water

This past month, I had the wonderful opportunity to drive across Canada to help my mom move from Halifax to Vancouver. When I hopped in the car, I had my reusable bottle ready to go and I was prepared to drive off and enjoy life on the open road. But there were two things I learned quickly; driving across the country isn’t nearly all it’s cracked up to be when you’re driving for over eight hours a day, and you’re going to be relying on bottled water to stay hydrated.

I threw my reusable water bottle in the back of the very loaded car in favour of water bottles we picked up from gas stations we stopped at for breaks. Now, I really haven’t had bottled water in a while because I prefer drinking from my personal water bottle, but I kind of remembered the brands that I liked and those I hated. But when you’re driving through rural Ontario and Saskatchewan, sometimes options are limited. The point of all of this is to say I was forced to drink Aquafina and Dasani for the first time in years. And may I say, they need to go out of business today.

Water is meant to hydrate you, refresh you, and help you be healthy. Both brands do the opposite. They taste awful, weirdly chemically, but also like nothing. I feel even thirstier afterwards, like I just drank from a pool or something. And I always feel bloated and gross after drinking that water. I’d also like to say in my personal circles, almost everyone agrees that Aquafina and Dasani suck. So, how are they still in business if people feel these same effects?

There are a lot of conspiracy theories and posts about why they are bad. In these posts, people use scientific and chemical terms to prove their hatred of water. I don’t know if they’re true, and many of my favourite water brands have some sort of additives aside from water. There are a couple things on the label that could be reasons it’s bad. The first is a little thing called magnesium sulfate. You may have heard of it when you’re sore, because it’s a common ingredient in epsom and bath salts. This, when consumed, can cause dry mouth. Dasani also adds salt, not an uncommon ingredient in standard bottled water. But as anyone who’s accidentally drank ocean water can attest to, salty water is not the best for hydration. 

For the most part, water has natural minerals and alkalis (iconic salt) that are good for you to drink, but Dasani filters water through reverse osmosis which eliminates all of these but purifies the water. By only adding back in magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride and water, you’re missing out on those tasty and hydrating minerals. For example, one of my favourite brands of bottled water uses magnesium chloride, calcium chloride and potassium bicarbonate which they use, and I quote here, “FOR TASTE” (but also electrolytes to stay hydrated but mostly taste). Aquafina’s water is similar to Dasani water in terms of the process, but in addition to poor water quality the bottle design is weak, it keeps bending in as soon as you drink it. Two strikes for them.

So why are they still in business? Because the biggest names in the drink industry own them; Pepsi and Coca-Cola, our favourite sugary drink corporate entities. They’re both at the top of the bottled water industry, because despite the terrible taste, many establishments partner with the parent company. Stadiums and movie theatres are a good example, they sell these bottled waters alongside their delicious assortment of fizzy drinks. 

Now, in the most ideal world, we get rid of all plastic bottles and we only have reusable bottles which is something I strive to do as much as possible. But in the interim, if we have to have bottled water, can we buy sustainably sourced, biodegradable one-use water bottles and put Aquafina and Dasani out of store shelves? It would make my day, truly.