What Makes Smartwater Smart?

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what makes smartwater smartSmartwater is a brand of bottled water produced by the Glaceau company — the same company that makes those colorful VitaminWaters.

I was surprised to learn Glaceau is a subsidiary of Coca-Cola. But what makes Smartwater so special?

Is it really any different from regular water?

Here’s what we know.

Vapor Distillation

Smartwater is “vapor distilled” water.

From what I can understand, pretty much all water is vapor distilled, meaning it originally came from clouds.

Where Does Smartwater Come From?

According to their website, most Smartwater is procured from “municipal water systems.” In other words, “tap water.”


Then the Smartwater goes through Glaceau’s proprietary filtration process, that removes just about everything from the water except two H’s and an O.

Electrolytes “For Taste”

Smartwater then adds back in the electrolytes:

  • calcium chloride
  • magnesium chloride
  • potassium bicarbonate

This is done “for taste.” I think the “for taste” part is important because the nutrition label still reads 0 mg of sodium, and the amounts of electrolytes added have essentially zero “gatorade-effect”.

In fact, the amount of electrolytes found in Smartwater is less than in other brands of “non-electrolyte-added” bottled waters.

Two independent taste-testers (my wife and I) could not taste any difference between Smartwater and Brita-filtered tap water.

Other Smartwater Smart-ness Factors

Glaceau has chosen to write “smartwater” in all lower case letters, which definitely seems trendy even if not necessarily grammatically correct.

It seems like the water in the Smartwater bottle isn’t anything amazing. It’s not going to raise your IQ or replenish your body of lost nutrients any more than any other water would.

So what really makes Smartwater smart?

Its business of course!

Globally, bottled water is a $100 billion dollar industry.

Glaceau has found a “smart” way to buy tap water for a national average price of $0.002/gallon, clean it up, and sell it for $5/gallon or more.

A 250,000% markup makes for an insanely profitable business.

By calling it Smartwater, Glaceau is basically calling every other bottled water brand Stupidwater. If you’re buying bottled water (arguably not the smartest activity to begin with–for your finances or the planet), are you going to pick the regular bottled water or the Smartwater?

Great choice, Einstein.

(photo credit)

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Nick Loper

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Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

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79 thoughts on “What Makes Smartwater Smart?”

    • I drink distilled water. Now when I try 0ther water I do not like it. The cats water dish has spout. Tap water leaves a build up I have to scrub. Distilled leaves nothing.

      • distilled water over time will kill you as it has zero the properties needed for nutrition. So I suggest after drinking a bottle of distilled water take a child’s shovel amount of back yard dirt and pack it in your mouth… you might want to add some water as dry dirt is not easy to swallow and distilled water will do the same to you except you will die of starvation instead of an impacted esophagus.

    • Tom, Unless you obtain heat for free, consider that in order to distill a liter of water, starting at room temperature (20 deg. C) it takes 80 KCal to heat it to boiling (100 deg) plus 533 KCal of latent heat to boil it. That’s 541 kCal per liter. Add to this the cost of periodically de-scaling the boiler. I hardly call that free. Such costly distillation may make sense for a lab or some industrial purposes, but not for ordinary household uses.

    • Distilled water is NOT healthy!!!!! No one should be drinking this because our immune system relies on regular exposure to microbes to keep it healthy – distilled water has no microbes. In fact, as noted in the science news in 2015 – decreased exposure to microbes from drinking distilled water and using those antibacterial soaps may be leading to increases in autism – where a mother’s immune system does not recognize fetal brain tissue as non- threatening and attacks it. REsearch this in credible sources and beware

      • Are you sure you know what you are talking about? I’ve been drinking distilled water for years now with only benefits to my health. My immune system is stronger than it has ever been before. The water that I drink is not only distilled but also vortexed and mineralized with Blue Ocean minerals. For example, drinking tap water long-term has detrimental consequences to your health because of the filtration process it undergoes and because it contains not only parasites but also industrial minerals that the human body has no way of getting rid of as to turn all them into kidney stones. Also, buying spring water doesn’t sound like a sustainable healthy solution either because almost all spring water is filtered with Reverse Osmosis technologies. No matter how advanced a filtration technology is it still damages the structure of the water. Vortexing water is the solution to that. Last but not least, ‘bulk water’, which is essentially tap water that was made safe to drink but still contains a large amount of TDS is not the water that you want to drink because it cannot pass through the cellular structure of the body as easily as distilled water does so you may drink the suggested 1.5, 2 litres per day but if the water you drink fails to hydrate your cellular structure and leaves industrial deposits in your kidneys then you are out of luck with your immune system too.

        • Honestly, I’m pretty sure you just threw out a bunch of anecdotal evidence and technobabble. Distilled water hydrates better? Are you kidding me? Take a science class and get back to us.

  1. Hi,

    I just wanted to say that vapor distilled means that the water was boiled, then cooled in a condenser. It’s the exact same process that makes clouds, only faster. The advantages are that it doesn’t require special filters, just a heat source, holding tank, and a condenser (usually a tank of water with a coil of copper pipe running through it). It’s a cheap and effective way of producing very clean water.

    Just found your website today, and I’m loving it. It’s nice to have some one deconstruct marketing tactics.

  2. I think, like most food/drink items, and energy items, etc the user or consumer is getting the most because of the psychological consumer bias that comes from a bottle or can that says it makes you sleep better or feel better. It may have nothing different but smart water can seriously effect a person of they believe. Yes it may sound cheesy but it’s true.

    • You are referring to the placebo effect. Two patients with pain problems are given two identical pills, but one pill is the actual pain medication, the other is simple a tasteless tablet. It’s a clinical study to see if the mind is powerful enough to make the body feel better if it is tricked in to thinking that it is actually treated.

      However, the clinical studies of placebo have not exactly given negative or positive results, as they tend to be mixed, especially in larger groups.

  3. My personal experience. Make what you will of it but understand I am still undecided as to the cause of the effects I have noticed. Here’s what happened. I am 54. I’ve spent years working only 8 hours a day, no weekends and little exercise otherwise. Now, I am having to put in mild physical labor for 10 to 12 hours a day and Saturday. After about 2 weeks of this, all I wanted to do was pass out and go to the hospital! Then, one lunchtime, I tried a liter of Smartwater (thinking it was cheaper than Dasani). At the end of the day, I didn’t feel like I had to crawl to my car and when I got home, I didn’t immediately pass out into a painful stupor. I thought I must be getting used to things. I don’t normally drink liters of water so the next day I had a soft drink and several cups of water. At the end of the day, I felt like (enter your own word for “BAD” here). The 3rd day, 2 liters of Smartwater with similar results to the first day. Is it the electrolytes? Perhaps just proper hydration? All I know is I felt much better and Smartwater is the difference to my normal routine. As I said, I bought it based on price alone, although I later realized it costs more. I got a lot of jokes from my friends about the name asking “does it work?”. That’s the first time I paid attention to the bottle and thought “man, they’ll do anything to sell water”. I’ll likely try another bottle.

    • Just a followup note to my earlier comment.
      No more remarkable results from drinking Smart Water. The additives make the taste better than distilled which seems a bit lifeless. The manufacturer starts with a blank and adds a nice recipe for taste; perhaps, there-in lies the wisdom? Important to me is it lacks the ‘earthiness’ of spring waters.
      Face it; advertisers have milliseconds to grab your attention. I had a street vendor yell that her leather items were “smooth as” ‘a part of Britney Spears anatomy’ – she got my attention, her originality bought 5 minutes of my time. Her product was good – I wasn’t in the market – BUT, I did look. That’s effective advertising! Even if Smart Waters hook didn’t work in my case, it ‘is’ good and I ‘am’ in the market. Am I smarter? I keep telling myself what a dummy I am for buying it – although I’ve yet to find a comparison. I’ve been convinced it’s unique; which, in the end, is where the rubber meets the road.

      • Yeah. Okay, so I’m on a roll. Actually, I’m just bored with my projects, my entertainment and my dog – my mind wanders. Some thoughts on manufacturing.
        Vapor Distillation. Simply put, heat water to a gas (steam), collect the gas, cool it back to a liquid. The gas can’t carry any of the crud from the water so the result is pure or ’empty’ water. Simple. Right? By the way, that’s why distilled water tastes so bland. It’s empty.
        Consider the words “heat” and “cool”. That requires energy. Have you ever went on vacation and turned off your hot water heater and air conditioner? Man wasn’t that a nice utility bill? Multiply that savings by a number large enough to produce enough distilled water to sell over a few years. Hmmm. Profit margin is not looking quite as profitable. What the heck! We’ll get by.
        Okay, the recipe for taste. A little of this, some of that and a touch of that other stuff. Boy, this tastes great. Now let’s buy enough for production. GEEZ! These guys are quite proud of their stuff! Ok. I’ll buy in bulk. You want HOW MUCH to ship it to me??? Hmmm, a little more off that margin.
        Let’s see; we need a snappy label and theme to really catch peoples attention and convince them that “Ours is the Best”. WHAT? I have to buy HOW MANY to economically absorb the design and set up fees? Wow! for just a label. Honey? – have you ever heard of “a second mortgage”?
        Okay. Manufacturing process is worked out. Bottles and caps are cheap – until you buy a b’zillion. I wonder how much a blow mold machine costs – never mind, I’m low on heart pills. And the energy required to sterilize things! Can you say “small city”? FDA, OSHA, Insurance, etc. Sigh it’s not called a ‘margin’ for nothing. Marginal is more like it.
        Okay. Bulk packaging to the distributor. Dang! more plastic. How much is oil selling for these days?
        Okay. Distribution pipeline requires bulk storage on this end. Man! Where am I gonna put all this stuff? I’m going to have to rent a warehouse! Sigh! Ka-ching!
        Freight costs? I know water is heavy!
        Bar Graph! That’s it. Break it all down! Work it out! Chart it out! Where the heck is the profit??? What? I thought that was a hair stuck to the bottom of the chart!
        Just do a Lobotomy on me now please.
        Well, I hope you got a chuckle out of this. I’m no expert and likely didn’t mention a tenth of the fun and challenges required to bring a new product to market but you get the idea.
        Kind of makes me wonder how they sell it for 2 bucks!

    • To convince me (and yourself) I suggest a rudimentary blind test. Have a friend serve you water, alternating randomly (flip a coin?) each day between ordinary tap water and “Smart” water. The friend will keep a record of which you are given each time, and you will independently record each day whether you feel the alleged sense of refreshment. Neither of you can look at the other’s data. At the end of two to four weeks, compare the two records. If there is a consistent correlation between the “Smart” water and the better feelings, you will have some minimal basis for your assertion. Otherwise just drink regular water and send me the money you are wasting on “Smart” water.

      • My advise to everyone is to think less about the water they drink but think more when crossing the street. Take it or leave it.

  4. My first time on a blog! Hoping this water was smart. Need electrolytes, sodium etc but hate sweetened enhanced water drinks. Is there anything out there for someone who needs to limit fluid intake and hates the sweet stuff? And hates the environmental mess all that plastic creates.

    • Yes, water is not just water. I agree with the article, purified water is nothing else than tap water minus electrolytes and minerals. Your body needs minerals and electrolytes therefore by spring or mineral waters. Gerolsteiner at trader Jose is loaded with minerals, Fiji is great too

  5. I purchased the smartwater bottle simply because i noticed the size of the container (which i felt would encourage me to drink more than my usual half glass of water per day)I also liked the spout and the cap cover. In other words I wanted the bottle so i can continue to use it and refill it with my plain old DUMB tap water!

  6. ‘The amount of electrolytes found in SmartWater is less than in other brands of “non-electrolyte-added” bottled waters’

    This is kind of a bold claim. I’d love to know where the author of this article found this information.

  7. If I buy it in Michigan, the only thing I really care about (i.e. my reason for buying it) is that I know that it does not contain lead !!!!

    • Boiled water cans till contain all sorts of contaminants (like lead), distilled water is free of such. I drink Smart Water at work because the tap water is milky white. At home I just drink tap water because our water works publishes the water tests monthly and the pipes from the water treatment facility less than a mile away to my house are 5ish years old so I can assume very little, if any, contaminate makes its way into the water.

  8. Hi there guys, I just think that this is all bullshit. water is always going to be water with or without electrolytes. there are other ways to gaining these electrolytes if you actually study. this is all just opinion based and not fact. Do some research before you comment pls. tenq
    for more info pllz ring : 07982418336

  9. If ‘Vapour Distilled’ means that the water has to be evaporated first – i.e. boiled – then how much energy is being used to do this and how is it generated?

    It doesn’t sound very environmentally friendly to turn water into steam and then back into water again.

    • Jeff, You are quite correct. In my earlier comment I showed that such distillation takes 613 kilocalories to distill one liter of water (starting at 20 deg. C.)

  10. I rarely drank water, but when I discovered Smart water, I got hooked. To me it just taste so fresh, and crisp! I can’t explain it, but now that’s the only water I buy. I love it!

  11. Funny story, I was purchasing a couple of bottles, of my now favorite water, and the cashier in the check line asked, is it true, about what they say about this water? Does it make u smarter? I answered, and said, I wouldn’t know, I don’t need it for that. LOL!

  12. yes this is all true but distillation is actually very important because it removes a lot of contaminants found in other waters like chemicals. A lot of water also has fluoride, mercury, arsenic, lead. Tap water and even spring water have these chemicals and heavy metals by distillation all of them are removed. So yes all water is distilled at some point but then it goes through pipes and lakes that contain all of the above and so smart water and distilled water in general takes that out which is very important :) but yes you can always buy a gallon of distilled water for 89 cents instead.

  13. My city adds chloramine to the water which is chlorine + amonia and they also recently changed the source of our water which came exclusively from hetch hetchy reservoir but now is mixed with ground water. I think it tastes horrible. I never liked bottled water until I tried smart water. I buy it by the case & drink 1-2 bottles a day.

  14. i am so thankful for smartwater. i have a disease in which my electrolytes drop so low that i could die. i have to drink 2 or 3 bottles of this electrolyte water every day. if i don’t i get these odd waves that run through my body and know i need to get more water into me fast. this water is really actually saving my life. even my doctors don’t understand why my electrolytes dip so low, but with this water i can keep it under control. thank u and please never stop making it. i also add even more electrolyte drops to my bottles of water as well. my only problem is sometimes i an unable to get it in Fillmore Utah. i have a standing order for a case of the large bottles every 3 weeks, but there have been times it doesn’t get ordered,so i now try to keep extra on hand and have hade to go out of town to get it.can it be bought directly from the company?

    • If you need electrolytes, try unflavored Propel, the electrolyte water from Gatorade. It has the same electrolytes as other Gatorade drinks without any sweetener or flavor.

    • Hi Merilyn,
      Out of curiosity, do you have dysautonomia or, another name for it being P.O.T.S.? Your description of what you experience reminded me of what I deal with, is why I ask.

  15. Thank you — great article and analysis about smart water.
    Btw, there is now a smarter option available at Amazon for those who want to add healthy electrolytes into their filtered / distilled / purified water. It’s a liquid electrolyte concentrate product with calcium, magnesium and potassium called EMDROPS. A single drop of this added into a cup of water provides 3 to 4 times more electrolytes as compared to what you get in smart water. Each bottle is sufficient for up to 1,200 cups of electrolyte water… which is an excellent value as compared to buying hundreds of bottles of smart water. Best of all, it has no preservatives or other additives.

  16. I bought a case at Sam’s club…but only for the click-top squeeze bottles. They’re the only way I can get my dog to drink water when we’re out walking him or on a road trip….and they’re reusable. I most-likely will not buy another case until all these bottles wear out….say, a couple years?

  17. So much wrong with this article. Vapor distilled does not mean from the clouds like all water. There are electrolytes despite no sodium add they do not use sodium based salts, they use calcium and magnesium based salts. Adding some sort of hardness helps flavor and more importantly good mouth feel. The electrolytes ate not necessary per se as we get plenty from our food sources but it helps with taste and give a crispness to the mouth feel.

    Opinion of a water treatment and metallurgy consultant

  18. This is what I got from the artible: I’ve been wasting my money buying Smart Water for several years. Actually, I get the Trader Joe’s alkaline water but it’s probably the same thing.

    I also bought an alkaline pitcher with three filters from Vitimen Cottage. It cost was $100.

    I feel like a fool for not doing my research. My Doctor does not seem to know for sure what causes leg cramps, like charlie horses, at night but that was my reason for buying Smart Water. It seemed to help.
    I’m going to continue using my pitcher but also add 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda to a gallon of water. I add a pinch of baking soda to my coffee in the morning and it gets rid of the bitter taste.

    • Hey Donna,
      Just thought I’d share what works the best for me when I get “charlie horses” or bad cramps in my legs, feet, etc. Coconut water! Many don’t like the taste, but I’ve found the more I’m in need of the potassium that it contains, the better it tastes to me And it is the most effective remedy for those awful cramps!

  19. I recently learnfrom a medical professional that smart water is one of two waters out there that passed the pH test. No acidity which I am trying to neutralize.

    • I’m very happy to hear this I was scrolling through this blog looking for information about using smart water for a CPAP machine as I am traveling as well and don’t want to bring my own water.

  20. Have been trying to fix up drinking water issues caused by regular consumption of RO water at home. Its been recommend to go for https://www.medilighthealthcare.com/ – the H rich alkaline water ionizer ( using disc technology or Kyk( using plate technology). Am confused how to finalize the machine for home use and on top of that, comes the recommendation of using smart Water. Can someone please guide about best option to drink ph balanced water with essential minerals? this is for Bangalore, India

  21. I was at a seminar this weekend where the speaker was talking about toxins in food and other products. He mentioned that the only bottled water he could recommend was Smart Water because the plastic that the bottles are made of is less toxic than other brands of water that come in plastic bottles.

  22. Big wake up for everyone. There are so many trolls on this site confusing everyone with their opinion about water real water is. Be careful what you believe. Nothing is what it seems.

  23. “From what I can understand, pretty much all water is vapor distilled, meaning it originally came from clouds.”

    I don’t believe you do understand. If you peed into a jug of distilled water, you would not continue to call it distilled just because it was once a cloud.

  24. WARNING !!
    It seems you are talking about the ‘drink’ “smartwater, let’s hope you don’t confuse it with “SmartWater” as the latter is a security product, a liquid in which unique security particles are suspended. The SmartWater is applied to valuable products/items. This way, if any products are stolen, the unique coding on the particles can be revealed by activating them in “Black Light”.

    From SmartWater: SmartWater is a traceable liquid and forensic asset marking system that is applied to items of value to identify thieves and deter theft. The liquid leaves a long lasting and unique identifier, whose presence is invisible except under an ultraviolet black light.

    For goodness sake, DON’T drink it !!!!!

  25. Smartwater is good for ME because it does not have the sodium other products have. And I can’t stand the sweet-tasting waters. I use Brita at home but take smartwater with me when I leave the house in the Phoenix heat. So smartwater is perfect for me – love the fresh taste.

  26. I bought a WaterWise countertop distiller. ($329) It will make 6 gallons a day or a gallon in four hours. It uses 800 watts. So 3.2 kWh per gallon. That costs somewhere between $.32 to $.70 depending on where you live. The heat to distill goes into the house, so in the winter, when you have the heat on, the cost is probably less. Or if you have electric heat, there is essentially no cost.
    No mineral deposits in coffee maker, etc.

  27. Any distilled water has been reconstituted by capturing steam. All contaminants are left behind including those chemicals that cannot be removed by filtration. It is the purest form of water today. Minerals and electrolytes can be added as a precaution via drops that can be purchased. Your tap water can be distilled at home via systems or a tabletop distiller. It’s not cheap either… but disease exacts a larger toll. Yep. The air, land, and oceans have been polluted for profit. We’re now working on f’in up space with unmanageable debri.

  28. You don’t get your vitamins or minerals from just water. Food is the main source so drinkning distilled water will not kill you.. OMG smacking my head!

  29. I have noticed that airports no longer sell conventional bottled water but this ‘manufactured water’ instead. If this ‘smartwater’ is manufactured by a company that is a subsidiary of Coca-Cola, then I would avoid it like the plague. There are many health concerns about how safe Coca-Cola actually is and now they are involved in selling water as there is a lot of money to made in the water supply industry. How do we know what else is really in the water? I think it is smarter to leave it alone.


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