Water, Water, Everywhere but Only Evian to Drink!
October 18, 2011 8:03 AM   Subscribe

Getting tap water to taste like Evian?

I have a horrific bottled water habit, to the tune of $200/month (and so much plastic damage to the environment, even though I recycle!).

I grew up with delicious well water and Evian is the closest I can get to that.

For optimal health (and great skin) I like to drink about 5 liters of water per day. This is easy with Evian; with Brita or Pur I can barely drink a quarter of that and can tell the difference in my energy levels. I do not think that bottled water has any additional health benefits, I'm just addicted to the taste of Evian. I am one of those pple who can totally tell the difference in water brands in a blind taste test. I can even tell the difference between NY tap and LA tap. I cannot even stomach Aquafina, Dasani, Arrowhead, Safeway brand, etc. I cannot drink restaurant water unless it is freezing cold, filled with ice, and I am super thirsty. I am not ever picky or a supertaster at ALL except when it comes to water.

With Evian, water is my beverage of choice; otherwise I slide down a slippery slope into sodas and juices. :(

Is there some sort of cool, unique filter that specifically over mineralizes tap to add 'flavor'? Or some other roundabout way that I can stop filling up my recycling bin every other day with 1.5 liter plastic bottles? I often wonder, too, if there's some sort of mouthfeel issue at hand. Evian has always just felt 'thicker' and 'heavier' in my mouth for some reason (this aspect of my water issues very well may be all in my mind).

Considering how much money I'm spending each year I'm willing to consider expensive concepts.

Note: I am not looking for advice on how to wean myself off of the taste, but for ways to substitute for flavor/mouthfeel only. I also am able to purchase it at a great discount so my costs are as low as possible already. If push comes to shove I'll just go to my Evian-soaked grave as-is, but I figured that if any group could help me replicate whatever it is that I'm craving in Evian, it's this one.

Thank you hive mind!
posted by citystalk to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
They put mind-control drugs in their water. Obviously. (Evian is "naive" spelled backwards! Think about it! Also, how come we call them "fingers" if we've never seen them fing?!)

Seriously, though: could you try flavoring your tap water? If you have another water dimension to obsess over, maybe the other, more intangible ones will fall to the wayside. A few slices of cucumber, a slice of lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit, a few pieces of melon, a mint leaf or two, some slices of ginger root...etc. Focus on the flavor of the flavoring, and not the flavor of the water itself.

Is there some sort of cool, unique filter that specifically over mineralizes tap to add 'flavor'?

Yes, these things exist. I know I've seen them advertised before. (But, unfortunately, I have no idea what they are or what they're called. Sorry.)
posted by phunniemee at 8:11 AM on October 18, 2011

Evian has something like 5 to 10 times the bicarbonate content of most still spring waters - it's comparable to something like Perrier in that respect, although lacking the carbonation.

So maybe you could try putting in more bicarbonate. Adding a tiny amount of bicarbonate of soda might do it, although you'd need to keep the amount very low to avoid the sodium making the water taste noticeably salty.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:15 AM on October 18, 2011

Leaving water out overnight or bringing it to a boil will remove the chlorine.
posted by goethean at 8:16 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Get a few five gallon buckets that are food grade or a water cooler and take a weekend drive out of the city to someplace that has good well water. Fill the buckets and experiment with mixing this with your tap water until you get the ratio that gives you the desired flavor.

Some cities even have publicly accessible artesian wells so check around
posted by JJ86 at 8:18 AM on October 18, 2011

Seems like the solution would be to either search out or get a chemical analysis done on Evian to see what the mineral content actually consists of and then go about finding a local source of well water that's similar or use some additives to come up with your own version.
posted by pappy at 8:43 AM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

I find a standard Brita filter pitcher improves the taste of municipal water just fine. There really is no scientific basis for there being any significant difference in metabolic effect between any two forms of drinking water.

Also, recycling plastic is only modestly more energy efficient than throwing it away in many cases. In many situations, it is less efficient. That doing so absolves us of environmental consequences from using plastic is a common misconception.

By the way, there really is absolutely no truth to the claim that drinking that much water has health benefits, for your skin or anything else. Pure myth. The Mayo Clinic has a good page of advice on water intake and health. The average intake recommended ranges from 2.2L for women to 3L for men, per day.

posted by spitbull at 9:00 AM on October 18, 2011 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Not a filter, but you can try adding minerals yourself. Then you're only importing bags of powdered rocks from the Alps, rather than gallons of water! Plus it looks like it would cost you about $150 a year instead of $200 a month.

Some of the other options can get kooky.

FWIW I don't think the mouthfeel is all in your mind. There is a definite difference in feeling between hard and soft water to me.

When I google "water hardener" the options that come up are principally related to aquaria, and also involve additives rather than filtration.
posted by looli at 9:06 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, it is not entirely safe to consume excess amounts of sodium bicarbonate either, although I don't know how close to the safe limit 5L per day of Evian provides. You are significantly increasing your sodium consumption, which has many health risks in the long run, at a minimum.

And increasingly there are reasons to worry about the health risks of plastic packaging, very definitely including the leaching of estrogenic compounds.
posted by spitbull at 9:07 AM on October 18, 2011

So I can think of two situations where people do this sort of thing.

First off, some beer styles depend on water with a high mineral content. Homebrew supply stores often sell Burton salts, which you add to regular old soft water to imitate the groundwater around Burton on Trent. This article talks mostly about the effect of water chemistry on beer but has some useful information on how to tweak water chemistry by adding small amounts of chalk, baking soda, etc.

Also, apparently some bottled waters add potassium bicarbonate to affect the flavor profile. (If I remember right, for instance, Dasani does this.) If La Morte de Bea Arthur is right about bicarbonate being the dominant flavor in Evian, that seems to be the professional way of getting that flavor in.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:09 AM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

Have you looked into an undersink filter. I had one when I lived in a town with almost undrinkable water and it made it taste like expensive store bought. They work much better than those little pur clip on filters or the brita jugs too IMO. Now weather it would make it taste like mineral water that's a different story.

Though here is what is in Evian, and the site also has a list of similar waters that you might find interesting. No mention of how to make your own though.
posted by wwax at 9:13 AM on October 18, 2011

Response by poster: there are so many fantastic options already - i will be marking multiple best answers! thank you everyone and i will be certain to update this question with my experiments. please don't stop with suggestions - we're going to have fun trying everything possible!

@spitbull - yours is the type of debbie downer comment that i specifically included extra information to try to avoid - if you rtq, i am very aware that plastic consumption is bad for the environment regardless of recycling, it's not about 'acceptability' of taste for but i'm trying to 'mimic' Evian's taste, and i acknowledged that i don't think there's any health benefits to bottled water. as for your afterthought - i *personally* feel much better when i drink only water instead of supplementing with other beverages. i *personally* feel much better when i drink about 5l per day. placebo or not, it's how i feel and i am not speaking for others, only myself. re: your second comment - the daily suggestion for sodium is 2k-3k mg, and a 1 liter bottle of evian contains 5mg/l, and again, the goal of this question is to reduce the amount of bottled water i consume, so no need to hit over the head with additional plastic bashing.
posted by citystalk at 9:34 AM on October 18, 2011 [6 favorites]

I keep refrigerated bottles of lime & lemon juice around to spike tap water. I've also carried around plastic packets of lemon juice (like ketchup) to use in restaurants. You could also try making flavored ice cubes to drop in water.

Do you like iced tea? Green tea has many health benefits, and you can make iced green tea (or nearly any kind of tea) with little or no caffeine. I can inhale a pitcher a day from my Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Maker. Strong or spiced tea can mask the water taste.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:37 AM on October 18, 2011

Best answer: Evian is actually considered a low mineral content bottled water.

Well this fellow created a Excel based calculator (Numbers opened it just fine on my Intel iMac except you had to manually enter the water type as the drop down menu didn't make it across). By his own admission he only crunched the numbers, he hasn't tested the formulas. And I haven't checked his math.

Most of the salts are easily accessible:

sodium chloride - table salt
sodium bicarbonate - baking soda
magnesium sulfate - epsom salts
calcium hydroxide - pickling lime

Some would take a little more sourcing

calcium sulfate - gypsum (you can get this from homebrewers suppliers, see brewer's gypsum)
magnesium hydroxide - not that common as a pure supplement but I found bulk powdered here.

As long as you are relatively precise in measurement these would all be perfectly safe to deal with.

Here is how I would approach it: get a digital food scale (the kind designed to count calories with) that measures to a tenth of a gram, a volume measure that goes to at least a liter, and a 100 mL plastic graduated cylinder. Calculate the mineral additives for 10 L of pseudo-Evian and multiply them by ten (I wouldn't trust the tenth gram measurements on that type of scale to be precise enough, at 10X the amounts will be reasonable. Bear in mind you are mixing enough mineral solution for 100 L of water by this method, but I think it's the only way to get reasonable mineral measurements with home-based equipment.

Buy at least 2 L of distilled water. Where I live you can buy it in bulk from grocery stores, supply your own bottles, and the unit in my grocery store can take up to 5 gallon carboys. At the volumes you're into it might be worth investing in a home distillation unit but only if you determined the DIY Evian approach worked for you... most people who like mineral water find distilled water as distasteful as tap.

Measure the minerals per the calculator. Bring a liter of water to a boil. Dissolve the minerals. Measure 100 mL of this with your graduated cylinder. This contains enough mineral solution for 1 L of water. Transfer to a different container and measure 10 mL of that with the graduated cylinder. Add to 1L of water (technically you should subtract 10 mL from the clean water for the volumes to add up exactly). Chill et violá, DIY Evian.

Now I don't know how stable your remaining .99 L of mineral solution is going to be. I only think hard about chemistry when I get paid but it might be insoluble salts could precipitate out of it over time. The lower the concentrations the less likely this is so if it worked for you, go for 10 L batches.

Likewise the minerals which would go a long way, I'd probably keep the harder to source/no other use/costlier ones in a ziploc in the freezer with a handful of dessicant packs thrown in.

Now this is all fairly elaborate for something that is basically an experiment but at your current $200 a month addiction it wouldn't be that costly of an experiment. Thirty bucks for the scale, twenty bucks for the other measuring equipment, thirty bucks for the minerals (at the minimal volumes you could easily access the magnesium and calcium hydroxides are the killers though you'd have enough for a ton of it if it worked, like thousands of liters), a couple bucks for the water - Well under a hundred bucks. Plus you can use most of the minerals for other things, and everybody should have a digital scale and a graduated cylinder or two around the house, because measuring shit is cool. I expect a report back if you try this out! If you want any further formulary advice feel free to MeMail me, I love this sort of thing (though ironically I hate mineral water).
posted by nanojath at 9:45 AM on October 18, 2011 [10 favorites]

This contains enough mineral solution for 1 L of water.

Er, that should read

This contains enough mineral solution for 10 L of water of course, which is why you measure out a tenth of it to get 1 L worth. Actually the whole measure out 100 mL step isn't even necessary, you just measure 10 mL directly from the full 1L 10X concentration batch with your graduated cylinder, I don't know what I was thinking there. Clearly label your 1L of 10X solution so you don't drink it undiluted, yuck. I'd keep it tightly capped (probably in a big glass bottle) and keep an eye on it for precipitation (white gunk sinking to the bottom). Reheating/stirring might redissolve it. Given your consumption levels I don't think it's likely to be that much of a concern.
posted by nanojath at 9:53 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: How about a sodastream? Does anyone not love their sodastream??
posted by pjaust at 11:46 AM on October 18, 2011

I am one of those pple who can totally tell the difference in water brands in a blind taste test. I can even tell the difference between NY tap and LA tap.
(this aspect of my water issues very well may be all in my mind).

I hope this doesn't sound disrespectful, but... Are you sure you can distinguish all these? Have you actually sat down and done a couple of double-blind taste tests? It might be worth trying. I think it's really easy for your mind to trick you into tasting a difference even if you cannot, or imagining a super-strong preference in taste, when in fact you are considering other factors. See this article: Stop fooling yourself: a better blind taste test that can help you save money (Forgive me if you already know all this, and really have demonstrated to yourself that your preferences endure, even in double-blind testing...)
posted by ManInSuit at 12:01 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Did someone say "sodastream?" I love mine. It makes your tap water fizzy by injecting co2, and you control how fizzy you want it. With delicious well water it produces the best sparkling water I've ever tasted. With meh municipal tap water, it still improves the taste tremendously. You can have several bottles cold in the refrigerator at all times, without ever carrying home cases of glass or plastic bottles. If your municipality chlorinates, it helps to let the water breathe for a while before you carbonate it.

I have the model that looks like a penguin, and six glass bottles with lids I've been using for about four years now. Other models use re-useable plastic bottles. The manufacturer pushes the device and their flavored syrups as an alternative to buying cases of soda pop. But we rarely put more that a squirt of lemon juice in our fizzy water. You could try it with minerals as suggested above.
posted by Atelerix at 2:38 PM on October 18, 2011

What about a reverse osmosis water filter? They are $600 to $2000 installed (generally in a basement) and can really help. GE makes one and home depot sells some too. They are pretty common in my southern Ontario town that has very hard water.
posted by saradarlin at 3:24 PM on October 18, 2011

I'd like to second leaving the water overnight to let the chlorine evaporate. it makes a HUGE difference, and it's free.

FWIW, I can definitely taste a difference in Boston tap water (VERY slightly salty) v. San Francisco tap water. (SF so much better: Hetch Hetchy for the win.)
posted by smirkette at 4:04 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd suggest you're going about your quest to find perfect water wrong.

> I grew up with delicious well water and Evian is the closest I can get to that.

It looks like the taste of delicious well water should be your ultimate goal, and not the taste of Evian, which itself (by your description) is only an approximation.

So, as you're sampling the various salts and baking soda, and whatnot above, don't have a bottle of Evian nearby to compare it against; rather, close your eyes, recreate a childhood memory, and try to compare against that.

This strategy seems to me to be both more likely to succeed, and more likely to produce the perfect water.
posted by losvedir at 4:12 PM on October 18, 2011

Perhaps the cheapest thing to try, if you haven't yet, would be to put your second-best water in an Evian bottle and drink it out of that (at your preferred temperature). Undoubtably *some* of the effect you are experiencing it mental, and drinking it out of the Evian bottle might help trick your brain into liking the water.
posted by Scientist at 4:33 PM on October 18, 2011

I notice that my Perrier has quite a few dissolved minerals in it. Some homebrewers just crush a mult-vitamin in their water to give the yeast cells all of the nutrients that they need to reproduce. You cuold try it and see how it tastes...
posted by goethean at 8:51 AM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Everyone was so awesome and we tried a few of the options but the winner, fascinatingly, was the Sodastream! That thing ROCKS OUT, y'all. I have no idea why this is a good substitution for Evian as the two are technically totally different but for whatever reason, making our Pur'd tap water ever so slightly fizzy works for us for now. Thank you for saving me from wasting money as well as slimming my footprint! :)
posted by citystalk at 11:37 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

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