That is What I Call High-Quality H2O: A History of Bottled Water
Learn the history of bottled water and how this life-sustaining resource is widely available today; from drawing water at the well to office delivery.
With sales of bottled water recently reaching $18.1 billion in twelve months, the demand for bottled water keeps going up. People stockpile it, drink it to avoid unsafe tap water, carry it when exercising, and turn to it looking for nutritional benefits. Is this a new trend?
Actually, bottled water has been in demand for hundreds of years. Read on to learn more about the history of bottled water.
History of Bottled Water
While water has always been purchased and stored for travel, over the years it began to be bottled for specific purposes. Not all of this water was even for drinking!
People have long believed that water from certain springs had curative properties. In the Middle Ages, Christians thought that many saints had blessed springs whose water could work miracles. Pilgrims visited these sites, sometimes traveling hundreds of miles, to pray for cures.
The explosion of pilgrim travelers created a souvenir industry. Visiting pilgrims could buy tiny ampules or containers containing water from the sacred springs. Pilgrims might have carried these home to cure others, or simply treasured them as holy relics.
Bottled Spa Water
Water was first bottled for drinking at Holy Well, in the Malvern Hills of England, in the early 1620s. This water was also thought to have healing properties.
Spas, built around natural springs, grew in popularity in the 1800s. People drank or soaked in the sulfurous waters to cure disease. These spas began bottling water for sale so customers could drink the curative waters at home.
First Bottled Water in the US
In 1845, an American family, the Rickers, started bottling spring water in Maine. They claimed their water had medicinal properties. Their company turned into the Poland Springs water company, which still exists today.
Other American springs started bottling water as well, such as Saratoga Spring Water, which was founded in 1872, and the Ozarka Spring Water company, created in 1905.
Some areas, including major cities, had systems that delivered brackish or contaminated water. In these cases, water was sometimes delivered by salesmen hauling barrels and sometimes bought in bottles.
In 1905, English doctor Alexander Houston discovered that adding chlorine to water killed bacteria. After his discovery, city water became safer, and bottled water lost popularity.
A Rise in Bottled Water
Bottled water started becoming popular again in the 1970s. The invention of plastic (PET) water bottles made bottling water easy and cheap.
Perrier, a former spa company, marketed its water as a classy and healthy alternative to sodas. New water companies sprang up, and old ones were acquired, such as the Malvern site which was purchased by Schweppes and became part of Coca Cola.
Water Trends Today
The popularity of bottled water continues to grow, with bottled water types that include spring water, filtered water, distilled water, and carbonated water. Americans drink more bottled water than soda, and as soda falls out of favor, bottled water sales may continue to rise.
Try Bottled Water
Whether you’re interested in bottled water for taste, health reasons, or safety, the history of bottled water shows that you’re not alone. Contact us for quotes to learn more about bottled water delivery options for you.