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Abstract

 The worldwide consumption of bottled water has experienced an annual increase of 5.5% since 2004 and different authors have speculated that this is due to beliefs of superior flavor and health qualities of bottled water over tap water. The content of certain minerals varies by 2 to 6 orders of magnitude between bottled water brands. The major cations Ca, Mg, Na, and K can be found in concentrations up to 730, 450, 1900, and 270 mg/L but are usually below 100 mg/L; higher concentrations have only been found in some European and North American bottled water samples. The dominating anions are HCO3, Cl, and SO42−. Sensory evaluation and description of water strongly depend on personal preferences and sensitivities. The major cations can be detected by taste in concentrations down to 2 digits in the mg/L range; however, the intensity depends on which anions are present. Most cations add different degrees of salty, sour, sweet, and bitter tastes to water depending on their concentrations. Al, Ca, Cu, Fe, Mg, and Zn may introduce metallic, astringent, and irritative sensations and for Fe and Cu also retro-nasal odors may influence the metallic sensation. Drinking water with total dissolved solids in the range of 100 to 400 mg/L results in good sensory quality. Known off-flavor problems originate from by-products of ozonation and leaching of organics from bottling material which may also be enhanced by ozonation, and microbial by-products from the source water such as geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol, lubricants, or cleaning agents used in the bottling industry.