There’s a new type of packaging you may see your water come in — a box. But is drinking water from a box healthier than drinking good old bottled water?
You can now find a brand called Boxed Water on store shelves nationwide. It claims to be free of chromium, arsenic, chlorine, fluoride and trace pharmaceuticals. It’s also free of methyl tertiary butyl ether, aka MTBE, which the Environmental Protection Agency is still investigating for potential health risks but which currently can be found in very small regulated amounts in drinking water.
Boxed Water is purified with ultraviolet, carbon and reverse-osmosis filtration. The BPA-free box is made of mostly paper (76 percent) and is the same sustainable material used to make coconut-water packaging. Further, the boxes are shipped flat, making the shipping more efficient and helping reduce their carbon footprint. If you can’t find Boxed Water in your area, you can go to the website and order online.
There are several cons about Boxed Water. First, fluoride is added into tap and some bottled water to help prevent deficiency, so you’re missing out on that with the boxed variety. Second, there’s currently no scientific evidence showing issues (positive or negative) about using boxed containers, so it is unclear whether they are 100 percent safe. Lastly, Boxed Water is rather pricey: A pack of 12 (500 milliliter) boxes, which can be ordered online, costs $21, bringing the cost per box to $1.75.
Different sources of bottled water include mineral, spring and municipal (also called purified water). Some companies fortify their bottles with fluoride, which is beneficial if someone doesn’t drink any tap water. Bottles are easy to find at any store or vendor that sells beverages, and can be purchased cheaper in bulk (about 29 cents per bottle).
However, a 2008 investigation by the Environmental Working Group tested bottled water and found contaminants in every tested brand and concluded that the purity of bottled water isn’t there. There’s also the issue of carbon footprint, where plastic bottles have a larger impact. However, some bottled water companies like Poland Spring take the initiative to have one of the lightest carbon footprints, compared to the same-sized bottled beverages.
Healthy Eats Winner: Between these two, bottled water is the winner. Boxed is tough to find and is expensive. Until research shows that there are no health issues with boxed, stick with what has been working (for now, that is bottled).
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.