Can you recreate the taste of bottled water?
August 26, 2015 11:34 PM   Subscribe

I like the taste/mouthfeel of "Fiji" bottled water, but I dislike buying bottled water. Can I recreate what "Fiji" is like, from tap water? Is there something magic in it? (The bottle says "silica", along with the bunch of other stuff?) Or is it a matter of removing stuff? (Fluoride?)
posted by Mwongozi to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I bet they're referring to silicate. Sodium Silicate is also known as "water glass" because it can form extremely thick solutions in water, with a feel a lot like glycerine.

It's not particularly poisonous but it isn't really a good idea to ingest very much of it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:41 PM on August 26, 2015

Not sure what it's like where you are, but I'm in a city and can really taste the chlorine/flouride in the water when I've been somewhere else. I use this filter (keep it in the fridge) to sort that out, it works for me.
posted by greenish at 1:11 AM on August 27, 2015

I use a filter jug.
posted by intensitymultiply at 2:09 AM on August 27, 2015

You can remove chlorine from tap water just by filling a glass bowl and letting it sit uncovered and unrefrigerated overnight. It's hard to beat the operating costs of that filter.
posted by flabdablet at 5:14 AM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Check this Popular Science article out. See the links to people who have actually done this with some of the popular brands of water. The Figi water bottle actually shows you the ingredients that you could use to make the same tasting water with the effort of procuring and then fine measuring. Silica is a required mineral for humans and can be procured through Diatomaceous Earth (food grade). What a project! Good luck! Have fun!
posted by RoadScholar at 5:40 AM on August 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

Fiji is slightly basic, which has a different mouthfeel in my experience than tapwater, which is usually slightly acidic. There are some very expensive gadgets that purport to change the pH of water. (I'm not linking to any because I have no idea if they work, and I'm not expressing any opinion on the health benefits their manufacturers claim.)
posted by mchorn at 5:45 AM on August 27, 2015

While it might not recreate the mouth feel of some bottled waters, because a lot depends on the minerals in the source water I found an undersinkfilter removed my need to buy bottled water as the tap water tasted just as good, and I live in an area with super hard water, that would smell sulfurous at times. It cost like $40 for the whole unit & if I shop around I can get replacement filters for around $25 they last a family of 2 adults about 6 months or so.
posted by wwax at 7:35 AM on August 27, 2015

I live somewhere with extremely clean tap water and I am still so much happier, if I use my jug filter and the jug lives in the fridge. Just doesn't compare to straight from the tap. I flatly refuse to buy bottled water.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:48 AM on August 27, 2015

I add a small amount of baking soda, like 1/4 teaspoon/gallon, to my tap water and it seems to reduce the chemical taste quite a bit.
posted by waving at 9:17 AM on August 27, 2015

Recreating mineral water at home is a thing that people do. Here are some details on the content of Fiji water. If you do some reading on DIY mineral water, you can figure out which of these is likely to be important for you taste-wise (my guess would be pH, bicarbonate, and silica) and how to calculate how much of which ingredients to add.

You can buy the ingredients you need for a homebrew supply shop (some beer makers adjust their water for different brews). You'll also need an accurate small scale.
posted by ssg at 9:46 AM on August 27, 2015

Here's a calculator to help you clone mineral water.

Download the calculator spreadsheet, and go to the last tab "mineral waters lookup" and add the information for Fiji Water from ssg's excellent link.

Now find your local municipal tap water testing page and enter that information on the calculator tab. This should generate a recipe for Fiji Water based on your local tap water.

You need a very accurate scale if you're making small quantities of cloned mineral water.

Please do be careful. You may want to read the MSDSs of the various things you're adding to your water.
posted by gregr at 10:27 AM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

You can also make distilled water at home if simple filtering doesn't remove enough of the flavor.
posted by gregr at 10:29 AM on August 27, 2015

Put simply, it's the mineral salts, in large part. Tap water is very carefully processed to remove many of those components, and distilled water (the stuff in the big plastic bottles at the supermarket) is even cleaner. The major taste issue with municipal water is chlorine or chloramine added to the water to keep the growies down.

These can be removed with a filter (like a Britta) or simply by leaving water open to the air on the counter for 2 to 3 days. Chlorine will break-down a little more quickly, chloramine takes two or three times longer.

As others have said, after that, it's a question of adding fairly small amounts of salts and other things like silica back into your water, to simulate the natural minerals the waters carry. There are recipes for most of the major brands out there. Khymos also has an XL calculator (previous link) and for figuring out what you need to add to the water to replicate the taste.

Fiji says their water is:

4.9 mg/L Potassium
18 mg/L Calcium
14 mg/L Magnesium
9.2 mg/L Chloride
153 mg/L Bicarbonate
92 mg/L Silica
0.23 mg/L Fluoride

and 224 mg/L Total Dissolved Solids
with pH 7.7

Khymos does not have Fiji on their list but it's pretty darn simple to add on the "mineral waters look-up tab" given the numbers above. Just leave the entries blank where not listed (and fluoride doesn't matter). If you know them you can add the composition of your tap water too. A phone call to your local water plant or a visit to their website will probably get you what you need. These are very commonly measured, and they'd have these numbers as part of routine water quality checks.

But, starting from distilled water (putting 0s in all the tap water slots), the calculator gives the following recipe (for 1 litre of water)
142 g of MgSO4 . 7H2O (Epsom Salt)
55 g of CaSO4 . 0.5H2O (Plaster of Paris)
7 g of CaCO3 (Chalk)
Sources for all of these salts can be found in the Khymos blog entry as well.
posted by bonehead at 10:32 AM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

bonehead, there must be a unit error in your numbers somehow. Do you mean mg of salt per litre / g per 1000L? 142g of Epsom salt in a litre of water is definitely far too much.
posted by ssg at 10:52 AM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Good catch. I misread the column heads in the calculator. Those are mg amounts.

In addition, adding the sodium number from your link also adds salt to the recipe. The final result becomes:

15 mg of NaCl (Salt)
142 mg of MgSO4 . 7H2O (Epsom Salt)
55 mg of CaSO4 . 0.5H2O (Plaster of Paris)
7 mg of CaCO3 (Chalk)
posted by bonehead at 10:58 AM on August 27, 2015

It's also worth noting that the Khymos method doesn't add silicate, so this is close, but might not feel exactly the same. Getting silica in solution however, can be a bit tricky to control quantitatively, as it's only sparingly soluble.
posted by bonehead at 11:00 AM on August 27, 2015

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