How to spot fake bottled water

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A person can live without food for about a month, but without water for no more than a week.

With the growth of large cities and the deterioration of the environmental situation, the issue of providing drinking water has become especially relevant. Despite the fact that tap water is technically potable, most of the population does not drink it without additional filtration or boiling. And those who have the financial ability buy bottled water in stores, assuming that it is of better quality. But it is not always the case.

Fake water

Fake water

30% bottled water sold in Russia (including mineral water) is a fake. Such statistics with reference to the data of the Federal Tax Service was announced by the Center for the Development of Advanced Technologies.

Public organizations give even more disappointing figures. Thus, the Anticounterfeit Association stated that an inspection of mineral and drinking water in 25 regions of the Russian Federation revealed a proportion of counterfeit 70%.

Read also: How to recognize fake Borjomi mineral water

Signs of falsification are determined taking into account the conformity of the characteristics of the goods with the information indicated in the label. Therefore, the concept of falsification does not always mean that, for example, our favorite artesian water was obtained not from a deep well, but from a nearby water supply. Although there are such cases. So, during the check, which was carried out by Roskontrol, in drinking water, positioned by the manufacturer as natural artesian, residual chlorine was found. According to the technical regulations of the EAEU, the treatment of natural artesian water with chlorine is prohibited, so the presence of this ingredient indirectly indicates that such water was obtained from the water supply network. 

Counterfeit water, officials assure, unlike counterfeit alcohol, does not pose a threat to the life of the consumer. But it can ruin your health. 

Buying drinking water in a store

How to choose drinking water

The quality of bottled water depends on many criteria: what category it belongs to, where it is extracted, what kind of purification it undergoes, whether it undergoes additional mineralization, in what container and where it is stored.

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Many manufacturers put on the labels of drinking water misleading information about the environmental friendliness of the product. The entrepreneur is guided by the fact that the buyer would rather choose a bottle that depicts an old source than a container with a reference to the number of the well, the water from which filled a particular bottle. 

And it works.

Studies have shown that not all consumers know how ordinary natural drinking water differs from, say, artesian water.

Bottled drinking water is divided into 2 types:

– from surface sources (from a lake, river or glacier);

- from underground sources (from an artesian well or spring).

According to the quality criterion, regardless of the source of receipt, two categories of water are distinguished: water of the first category and water of the highest category.

Both categories must be safe for health and meet the criteria for favorable organoleptic properties. But the water of the highest category according to GOST 32220-2013 has higher requirements in terms of composition and physico-chemical parameters. In addition, it must satisfy the physiological needs of a person in biologically necessary macro- and microelements, that is, it must be not only safe, but also useful.

Do you buy drinking water?


A lot of information about the purchased water can be given by its labeling.

As in the case of other products, the label must contain information about the manufacturer, its location, the expiration date of the goods, storage conditions, and certification data. In addition, it is mandatory to indicate in the labeling information about the category of water, the method of its disinfection, general hardness and mineralization.

On bottles with artesian and spring water, as a rule, information about the place of its extraction is indicated.

If tap water is used as the raw material, the manufacturer is obliged to indicate this on the container.

And to make an inscription about the healing properties of drinking water is possible only if this is confirmed by special studies.


Drinking water packaging can also greatly affect its quality.

The safest, but not practical container is glass.

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The plastic bottles we are used to, the volume of which can vary from 0.3 to 19 liters, are usually made of polycarbonate or polyethylene terephthalate. 

The first material is considered more durable (suitable for repeated use) and safer (because it does not react with water). But polyethylene terephthalate can enter into a chemical reaction with water when the temperature rises.

The material from which a particular bottle is made is indicated by a sign, in the form of a triangle with arrows and a number. If the number one is engraved in the center of the triangle, the container is made of polyethylene terephthalate, if the number is 7, polyethylene terephthalate was used in the production of the container. 

Drinking water bottle label

Chemical composition

Information about the chemical composition of water must be indicated on the packaging. The main allowable indicators are given in the table below:

Potassium 2–20 mg/l
fluorine 0.6–1.2 mg/l
Calcium 25–80 mg/l
Magnesium 5–50 mg/l
Iodine 0.06 mg/l
total mineralization 200–500 mg/l

In laboratory studies, specialists should check drinking water for the presence of other substances: toxic metals (aluminum, iron, lead, etc.); non-metallic elements - boron, ozone and arsenic. Their volume should not exceed the norms allowed for a particular category of water.

An indicator of organic water pollution is the presence of ammonia, surfactants, oil products, nitrites, formaldehyde, etc. in its composition.

The chemical composition of medicinal table water

Cleaning level

The list of permitted cleaning methods is regulated by GOST and TR EAEU.

So, to reduce bacterial pollution, water is ozonated, saturated with carbon dioxide, silver. For physical purification, multiple membrane filtration is used. Part of the water is purified using ultraviolet radiation, tap water can be disinfected with chlorine.

Drinking water purification methods

Mineral water

The category of mineral water includes water, the total mineralization of which is more than 1 g / l.

Mineral waters according to their purpose are divided into table, medical-table and medicinal. So fresh mineral water is considered to be table water. Exceptionally curative is water with high mineralization - 10 to 15 g / dm3. An intermediate place is occupied by a medical-dining room (for example, the well-known brand "Borjomi").

Table mineral water is suitable for daily use, medical table water is used for the prevention of specific diseases, and medicinal water can be drunk only on prescription, as it has a significant effect on the body.

According to the prevailing salts and therapeutic orientation, the following categories of mineral waters are distinguished:

  • hydrocarbonate;
  • magnesium;
  • sulfate;
  • chloride.

Magnesium mineral water has a sedative effect, hydrocarbonate is recommended for diseases of the genitourinary system and gastrointestinal tract, sulfate and chloride water is ideal for the gastrointestinal tract.

Mineral water

artesian water

Artesian is called groundwater, extracted from aquifers of rocks between water-resistant layers. The depth of the well, as a rule, is at least 100 meters.

Artesian water, which has found a natural outlet to the surface, is called spring water.

Artesian and spring water should be bottled at a minimum distance from the source.

Disinfection treatment of groundwater in any way other than UV disinfection and ozonation is not allowed.

To remove iron and sulfur compounds from artesian water, it is allowed to carry out its filtration and decanting. The only admissible additive is carbon dioxide.

artesian water

baby water

Children's water belongs to the drinking water of the highest category. The highest requirements are imposed on it, as it is intended for feeding children from 0 to 3 years.

In particular, it is forbidden to use chlorine, carbon dioxide and silver for its cleaning and conservation. It cannot be produced by the method of post-treatment of water from centralized water supply systems. At the same time, its conditioning is allowed (enrichment with macro and microelements). The composition and standards for the content of essential substances (bicarbonates, potassium, magnesium, calcium, fluorine) in such water are established taking into account the age characteristics of young children.

That is, children's water is not only pure water in a bright bottle with a convenient neck, it is also a liquid of a strictly defined composition.

baby water

Drinking water quality indicators

Indicator Units Maximum allowable quantity
Chroma degrees 20
Smell Points 3
pH 6-9
General hardness mg/l 7-10
Permanganate oxidizability mg/l 5
sulfates mg/l 500
chlorides mg/l 500
Iron total/dissolved mg/l 0,3
Copper mg/l 1
Lead mg/l 0,3
Total microbial count Number of bacteria in 100 ml 50

Glacial mountain and melt water

Glacial meltwater is water produced by melting ice. It is characterized by the absence of impurities, hardness salts and heavy metals.

It is believed that freezing water contributes to a change in its structure. It is indeed cleaner and healthier than, for example, water from rivers. Since ancient times, unique properties have been attributed to melt water. Also, like artesian, melt water should be spilled near the extraction site.

glacial water


How not to become a victim of a fake? To combat counterfeiting in the drinking water market in Russia, a system similar to alcohol control through the Unified State Automated Information System is being developed. It is expected that it will allow the buyer to obtain reliable data on the origin of water in each particular bottle. Documentation of sales volumes and water production will allow both to determine the discrepancy between the volumes of produced and sold products, and to find out if extraneous water sources were used in production.

While the system is being developed, in order not to become a consumer of counterfeit products, we advise you to pay attention to the following:

  1. Marking.

Artesian, spring or melt water is ideal for health. All of these categories are less artificially affected. But one must understand that artesian water from a well somewhere in Ossetia can differ significantly in composition from its counterpart, extracted from a well in the north of Crimea near a chemical plant. Also, do not forget that the place of production and extraction must match, or at least be close. And if a glacier from Ossetia has melted somewhere near Moscow, in front of you, most likely, the water is a fake.

  1. Price. High-quality water from an artesian well, and even more so from a glacier, cannot be cheap. 
  2. Storage. Pay attention to the storage conditions of water in the store: there should be no high temperatures and direct sunlight, otherwise even healthy water will become poison when interacting with cheap plastic.
  3. Own taste.

Some experts recommend choosing both drinking and mineral water for taste: the body knows better which water is optimal for you in a particular period of time.

Where to go if you sold a fake?


What kind of water do you drink?
I buy bottled in the supermarket
I pour water in street vending machines
Ordering bottles of water
I defend tap water
I boil tap water and cool
I use home water filters
I drink ordinary tap water without purification
Voted: 14
Andrey Kozhevnikov

Blog author. 7 years of experience as a Merchandiser. Specialist in the definition of quality products. Distinguished more than 5,000 fake goods. My motto: there is no limit to perfection!

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OriginalPoddelka - how to distinguish a fake from the original
Add a comment

  1. Tatyana Vladimirovna

    write more, I won’t check the cognac, I drive in the brand and no answer, no hello

  2. Michael

    I agree with the author especially with regard to the storage of water in the store. I also draw your attention to this: 1. In most cities there are local firms producing and selling water, as a rule, it is not in the interests of these producers to trade, and even more so to see counterfeit products on the market. 2. Pay attention to the delivery of water. Suppliers can also help in choosing high-quality water. 3. Ask your friends, neighbors where they get water and perhaps you will know the address of a popular spring, well, column, etc.

  3. Tanyusha

    In general, it seemed to me before that all non-carbonated water is the same, until they completely switched from tap water to bottled water. As a result, it turned out that this is far from the case. Cheap water is not very tasty, and really looks like a fake. But Aqua Minerale is expensive, but the water is beautiful. The problem is that in many stores, especially private traders, a clear fake of such water is sold ...

  4. When I was in Essentuki

    When I was in Essentuki, I saw water only in pump rooms, there were no bottling plants. Where is it bottled?

  5. Nicholas

    When I was in Essentuki, I saw mineral water only in pump rooms, there were no bottling plants in the vicinity, where is it bottled?

  6. Svetlana

    Да в наше время подделки это просто бич. Особенно это касается воды. Создалось такое впечатление, что подделок больше чем настоящего. Почему вода, да ее проще подделывать , не затратно. Наливай и наливай из под крана .Это реалии нашего времени.

  7. Ирина Чепель

    Даже воду подделывают? Не знала такое. Понятное дело алкоголь, но уже и до обычной воды добрались.

  8. Иван Кукушкин

    Ну, вы, Ирина, и наивный пост напечатали…
    В 2022 году не знать, что подделывают все… “Понятное дело алкоголь…”
    А все остальное непонятно?..
    Все, что сделано дешевле фирменного, а продается по его цене – все подделывается… Алкоголь, напитки, продукты, одежда, обувь – все…
    Все равно бараны купят!..