The estimated price of bottled water
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Can you drink the tap water in India?
The US Center for Disease Control's travel advisory recommends avoiding tap water and drinking bottled or disinfected water in India (source). Like all countries though, water accessibility, sanitation, and treatment vary widely from location to location, so we encourage looking for specific city information.
What do people in India think about the tap water?
- Never drink tap water.
- Bottled water is generally safe – check that the seal is intact at purchase.
- Avoid ice unless you know it has been made without tap water.
- Be careful of fresh juices served at street stalls in particular – they’re likely to have been watered down with tap water or may be served in jugs/glasses that have been rinsed in tap water.
- Avoid fruit that you don’t peel yourself as it will likely have been rinsed in tap water. Alternatively, rinse fruit yourself in mineral water before you eat it.
- Boiling water is usually the most efficient method of purifying it.
- The best chemical purifier is iodine. It should not be used by pregnant women or those with thyroid problems.
- Water filters should also filter out most viruses. Ensure your filter has a chemical barrier such as iodine and a small pore size (less than four microns).
- In tourist areas some guesthouse’s cafes and restaurants use water filters; use your own judgment as to whether you think this water will be safe to drink.
As for bottled water, make sure that the cap's seal has not been broken, otherwise, it is a tell tale sign of tampering or that unscrupulous vendors reuse old bottles and fill them with tap water, which is generally unsafe for foreign tourists to drink without prior boiling. Bottled water brands like Aquafina (by PepsiCo) and Kinley (by Coca-Cola) are widely available. Local brands like Bisleri are also acceptable and perfectly safe. Tastes may vary due to the individual brands' mineral contents. Avoid most locally sold soft drinks and soda's, they are known to have strong dyes and chemicals and can lead to nausea, diarrhea, and headache.
Tap water is generally not considered safe for drinking at many installations, even by local populace. However, many establishments have water filters/purifiers installed, in which case the water may be safe to drink. Packed drinking water (popularly called "mineral water" throughout India) is a better choice. Bisleri and Kinley among others are some of the more popular and safe brands. However, please check for whether the seal is intact or not as on some occasions, if the seal has been tampered, it could be nothing but purified tap water or worse, unfiltered water. On Indian Railways, a particular mineral water brand is generally available known as "Rail Neer", which is considered to be safe and pure.
Fruits that can be peeled such as apples and bananas, as well as packaged snacks are always a safe option. As is the practice with the native population, always wash the fruits and vegetables prior to cooking, with water. Municipality provided running tap water is generally considered safe to do so and this should not pose any later harm.
How do People In India Rate The Tap Water?
Travellers and residents of India have rated the water quality and pollution as follows, according to subjective survey data. A score of 100% is considered very high, and a score of 0% is very low. Please be cautious that "moderate to very high" water pollution is bad and the higher the rate of water quality the better.
Tap water ratings
- Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility 56% Moderate
- Water Pollution 73% High
- Drinking Water Quality and Accessibility 44% Moderate
- Water Quality 28% Low
Always take extra precautions, the water may be safe to drink when it leaves the sewage treatment plant but it may pick up pollutants during its way to your tap. We advise that you ask locals or hotel staff about the water quality. Also, note that different cities have different water mineral contents.