Yes, tap water is the safest and most controlled beverage/food product in Germany. Many German cities including Berlin and Munich brag about the quality of their tap water which often comes from the same source as mineral water.
Therefore the consumption of bottled water in Germany is surprising. On average, every citizen drinks around 147 liters of mineral water per year. In 1970 it was just 12.5 liters.
Nonetheless, according to water research by OrbMedia; microplastics were found in 72% of all tap water in Europe, including Germany. Chlorine added to the water for disinfection can bring an unwanted taste or smell, and its byproducts have been identified as cancerogenous. A simple, affordable and high quality carbon block filter such as TAPP, will remove microplastics as well as chlorine and its byproducts.
Here’s an overview of the tap water, bottled water and why you should drink tap water in Germany.
Tap water in Germany
Like everywhere else the taste and quality of the tap water differ across the country. Usually, taste is related to the hardness of the water. While softer water tastes good almost everywhere harder water generally tastes better cold. Tea drinkers prefer soft water. The other issue with hard water is that it usually requires more chlorine to keep safe and sometimes contains a lot of limescale.
Here’s a map of the water hardness in Germany:
How good is German tap water?
The tap water is so good that it matches or beats mineral water in terms of taste. In multiple blind-tests, various mineral water (still and sparkling) were tested against normal and carbonated tap water. Tap water came out at the top or equal to the mineral waters. See links for 3 of the blind tests below.
The main known concerns with tap water in Germany are nitrates and chromium. In an extensive test 27 of the 28 drinking water samples contained nitrate. The content was below the 50 mg/l recommended maximum with the highest content just under 30 mg / l in Bruchhausen-Vilsen. Chromium was also found in the tap water but with traces considerably below healthy recommendations. Chromium and nitrates were also found in a large sample of the mineral waters.
Microplastics have also been found across Europe in 72% of tap water, according to water research by OrbMedia.
Over the coming months we will continue to report on tap water in other German cities including Berlin, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart, Dortmund, Essen, Leipzig, Bremen, Dresden, Hanover and Nuremberg.
How can I improve the taste of tap water?
For those that simply don’t like the taste of the water a faucet water filter such as TAPP 2 which removes chlorine and odor is very efficient. In addition to improving taste, it also removes a further 80+ potential tap water contaminants, including byproducts of Chlorine, identified as cancerogenous.
Another tips is to simply pour the water into a carafe and leave in the fridge overnight whereas most of the chlorine evaporates.
Bottled Mineral Water
In German supermarkets, there are more than 500 different brands of mineral waters. One liter costs between 0.20 and 0.70 euros. The price is not an indication of how many minerals it contains. In fact several of the most expensive contain the same amount of minerals as tap water.
There are mainly three reasons that Germans don’t drink tap water:
- Prefer sparkling water to still water
- Mineral water is advertised as pure and healthier
- Believe mineral water it contains more minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and iron.
Mineral water does not really deserve the name because, firstly, there are no significant amounts, and secondly, it is not a very high mineral source for humans.
Germany has a good recycling system for bottles in general but the production of plastic still has a substantial impact on the environment. Less than 20% of plastic bottles in Germany are currently made from recycled plastic. Bottled water production, transportation and recycling also have a considerable CO2 footprint.
Therefore it’s always better in terms of sustainability to drink tap water.
Alternatives to bottled water
There are several great alternatives to replace bottled water
- Buy a water filter made for German tap water such as TAPP
- Use a refillable water bottle and bring it with you on the go and to places that don’t serve tap water
- Get a water carbonator such as Soda Stream
Restaurants and Coffee shops
Most German restaurants won’t offer tap water unless you insist. Bottled water has great margins and most Germans prefer sparkling water so therefore tap water is not an option (although some km0 restaurants now provide their own carbonated water).
With increased environmental awareness this is slowly changing in cities such as Berlin. Ask politely and as long as you are consuming other food and beverages they will happy to provide tap water free of charge.
There is no reason to spend money on bottled mineral water in Germany considering the general high quality of tap water. Drink tap water and save money, the environment and stop carrying home heavy water bottles.
And if you don’t like the taste then get a high quality water filter such as TAPP.
German water quality by city: http://www.xn--wasserqualitt-trinkwasserqualitt-wyct.de/wasser-qualitaet/staedte
Best tap water in Germany: http://www.daserste.de/information/wissen-kultur/w-wie-wissen/sendung/2012/wassertest-114.html
Blind tests show tap water is as good as mineral water:
Pros and cons of German tap water:
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