Is Smartwater Any Good At All?

During a medical procedure some time back, my wife’s doctor told her to stay hydrated and recommended she drink Gatorade or Smartwater. (Or is it “Smart water”? Even Glaceau, now a subsidiary of Coca-Cola, can’t seem to decide.) We know from its advertising campaign exactly how Gatorade was invented, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that it actually works. We also know that the early formulations were so horrible that they made people throw up — i.e. when you stick enough electrolytes in water to make a serious difference, and you don’t balance it out with something else, the resulting concoction makes people vomit. Why? Well, because it’s basically salt water.

Smartwater claims to have electrolytes in it. I’m sure it has some electrolytes in it, but the question is are there enough to make a medical difference? I have serious doubts and can find no evidence to support any claims for Smartwater being any superior to tap water or other bottled waters except for claims by nutcases and obvious shills.

Searching the web for answers is no use. Almost no-one who cares about bottled water seems to have two brain cells to rub together. Someone will ask a question on Yahoo Answers or some similar website about the product and get replies from people who haven’t even bothered to read the label (no, it’s not probably distilled, it is totally frackingly obviously distilled because it says so on the label) or joke about how it’s overpriced on the basis that all bottled water is overpriced. Yeah dude, I get that, but what do you think the profit margin on soda is? Well, it’s not like I’ve ever found a useful response to any kind of question on a website like that.

I did find an interesting blog entry on the topic. Although purportedly about Smartwater, the entry only gets to its alleged subject in the second-last paragraph, being mainly a swipe at bottled waters in general. When it does criticize Smartwater it seems to lump it in the same category as Gatorade and argues that it’s overkill for ordinary people. It did quote a chemist from UCSB (but Dr. Laverman appeared to be talking about Gatorade, not Smartwater), whom I am attempting to contact. I’ll update this entry if I receive any more information.

Anyway, I leave you with two bits of information that might be relevant:

Smartwater has some amount of Calcium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride, and Potassium Bicarbonate in it. First of all, if you dissolve a bunch of this stuff in water, calcium will react with carbonate and precipitate out, and the extra CO2 will make the water fizzy. There’s obviously not enough of these salts in Smartwater to have that effect. Second, you might wonder what this stuff tastes like. Well, according to Wikipedia, calcium chloride tastes extremely salty, magnesium chloride tastes bitter, and potassium bicarbonate tastes slightly alkaline. (Other equilibrium products, such as potassium chloride, are also salty.) Smart water isn’t salty, despite using even saltier salts than Gatorade uses from which we might conclude that it’s not going to have enough electrolytes to make a difference.

Second, Glaceau’s other products are all highly dubious. E.g. its “Vitamin Water” is sweetened with “crystalline fructose” which sounds really cool, right? “Crystals” are obviously healthy. Of course “crystalline fructose” is what you get by dehydrating high fructose corn syrup. If these guys were trying to make a genuinely healthy drink, they sure didn’t try very hard.

So, based on circumstantial evidence at least, Smartwater is a confidence trick. It’s certainly not much worse in this respect than any bottled water, but it’s pretty sad that some doctors seem to have fallen for it.

Post Script

I contacted Glaceau directly and received the following information from Glaceau customer relations:

we add a unique and purposeful combination of electrolytes to smartwater®. one liter of smartwater® contains 10mg of potassium, 10mg of calcium, and 15mg of magnesium.

By contrast, Gatorade contains 440mg of sodium and 120mg of potassium per litre. Evian contains 78mg of calcium, 24mg of magnesium, and 4mg of sodium, but makes no claims about electrolytes. Indeed, from what I can tell, smartwater contains less in the way of electrolytes than most typical mineral or spring waters you might buy, and probably less than your tap water.

  • Prescott Bush

    pure water is what is good for the body. H2O and it is the responsibility of us to eat the high alkaline diet, there is no magic trick to eat wrong and drink high PH just to try to keep an alkaline diet. Filtered rain water and distilled water are the 2 most purest forms of water, closest to our natural state before we corrupted ourselves with drinking filth and water that leaves mineral deposits in our organs (arthritis, it stores in the joints, kidney problems it stores in the kidneys aka kidney stones, and for hand tremors and body tremors and internal tremors it stores and upsets the nervous system).

    the alkaline PH levels are big on the internet, however, in our natural human state pure water is best and it is best to eat a high alkaline diet. unless you have cancer that you are trying to over alkalize to kill the cancer, sure. but most folks best to drink PURE water (distilled) and then eat properly as humans should in our created natural state, vegetables, fruits, plenty of fresh air and sunshine. no pork, ever. and no unclean meat, no drugs, no steroid meats, if you can find any these days in usa. but as for water many people focus on the PH levels because they are ignorantly considering the PH factor more important than the PURE and CLEAN factor. see youtube video called “Distilled Water vs. Filtered Water vs Bottled – The Journey of Water Documentary” and be prepared to be shocked. Oh and pure water is #1 best solvent to cleanse the body it is called HUNGRY WATER and actually goes into each nook and cranny looking for toxins and filth to cleanse and pass out our body. PH waters that are filthy chemical treated tap water basically (that is 99.9% all bottled water on the market in USA) will not be seeking out toxins to cleanse because it is putting filth in us, virus, bacteria, and dirt. looks clear because it is chemically treated. USE DISTILLED WATER, and watch your health problems disappear and eat alkaline foods, cut out processed acid forming foods all together, just like you would cut out cigarettes. all poison and not for human consumption even if we are desensitized to think otherwise. so in regards to water: think PURE first, leave the PH up to our diet. not the other way around. PEACE.

  • Cat

    I have lived in the U.K. and the U.S.A. The best water I’ve tasted has come from Wales in the mountains, and also in the the highest part of the Blue Ridge Mountains from a well. That water is very cold and it is hard to explain, but it tastes pure and almost like it was soaking in cold rocks. I used to love Smartwater, but now it seems off to me. I also feel suspicious of giant companies. I would love to drink distilled water, but where do you get it in #2 or higher bottles? One company in the US sells it in 5 gallon glass bottles – & it is distilled spring water – not municipal tap water like most distilled water. I had it in Florida, it is great, but I can ‘t get it delivered where I am now. The home distillers have a lot of poor reviews also. 🙁 If anyone knows of distilled water in better plastic containers PLEASE post here and let me know.

  • Cat

    Please can you explain where you get your distilled water? I want to drink it but can only find it in cheap plastic bottles. Do you distill your own? if so can you share what you use to do it?

  • Cat

    I am so tired of people looking down on people for buying water. They seem FINE with people buying beer, pop. iced tea drinks, soup, and many things that CONTAIN water, but all I drink is water. I don’t drink any other beverage. Why does that made me the bad guy, but the person buying a 6 pack of beer is okay?

  • Cat

    I am totally with you on this. It is not a case of a whim. It is a case of basic health.

  • Cat

    I believe most animals drink fresh water, including puddles of rain water, which is naturally distilled.How many animals actually live near springs? I think we are meant to get most water from plants which distill the water in their leaves, etc. And that is where we can get our minerals, the plants take some of the minerals from the ground. Or the dirt on the plants that we would eat from the ground, would have trace minerals. I’m not so sure it’s a good idea to consume large amounts of mineral water.

  • Cat

    I thought vitamin water was flavored.

  • Rainwater isn’t naturally distilled once it hits the ground.

  • Cat

    No, that’s true. It becomes mixed with whatever it hits on the ground. But what I meant was every time it rains I see birds and deer and other animals drinking from the puddles – and though it must get some dirt/minerals from where the puddle is formed it is mostly (temporarily) water that evaporated and fell back to earth. So it hasn’t been steeping in minerals from within the earth. >(^._.^)<

  • OK, there is a potential difference in that relatively insoluble minerals, e.g. calcium carbonate or heavy metal salts, would not have time to reach equilibrium concentration in rainwater vs. water that has been underground for a long time. Obviously, heavy metal salts are bad and presumably checked for in mineral water. (There are standards for potable water in all advanced countries which dictate maximum levels of such things.)

    So, yeah, there’s a possibility mineral water will have stuff dissolved in it that rainwater, even rainwater lying in puddles, won’t have, but I wouldn’t lose sleep over it.

  • Cat

    Naw, I won’t! ;

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  • Arais NaitEiram Lee

    Pretty sure they mean less Calories than Gatorade.

  • Perhaps, but it has way less electrolytes than Gatorade, in fact less than tap water.

  • Coconut Water has as a lot of carbs — sugar — in it. While it may have health benefits (I’m skeptical) and I love the taste, I think the appeal of Smart Water is that it has something good in it (electrolytes) but nothing bad (calories).

    My problem is that it doesn’t really have anything good in it. It’s just bottled water. If you like the taste or appreciate that it’s cheaper than Evian or whatever, then fine. But don’t be fooled by any purported medicinal qualities.

  • They pretty much give you the recipe on the label. I think it’s safe to assume that the magnesium and calcium are either chloride or sulphate, so just measure the amount (hint: almost none!) and add to distilled water. I’m glad your sister recovered, and keeping hydrated probably helped, but Smartwater’s only magic property is its taste.

  • You can buy gadgets for distilling water on Amazon.

  • New York City famously has some of the best drinking water on the planet. It’s actually relatively rural areas — places where the voters hate the EPA and the government — that often have poor quality drinking water.

  • Mahbad Abdulla

    You do realise they,re selling you rubbish? Its the way the ‘smart water’ is advertised that is hypnotising you into buying it and its making them a fortune. Doesn’t it sound a bit fishy when the ‘smart water’ is owned by the Coca cola company. I love globalisation nowadays, its easy to sell anything to anyone.

  • Dan Lund

    It’s not rubbish any more than soda is rubbish.
    It’s purified water with ph balanced and trace minerals added.
    Get off your soap box.

  • Donna Dukes Harsson

    Not fewer calories just fewer chemicals, tapwater if you live in a fluoridated area is extremely toxic, it’s a continual slow poisoning of your body.
    Check out the Fluoride Action Network.
    Tap water consumption is, on average, the largest daily source of fluoride exposure for people who live in areas that add fluoride to the water. Avoiding consumption of fluoridated water is especially critical for infants. Sometimes we are choosing the lesser of two evils.

  • Who said anything about fluoridation? If you are trying to avoid fluoridation then of course you probably don’t want to drink fluoridated water. It should be mentioned that smartwater is not fluoridated but this is not true of all bottled water (some brands in fact advertise it.

    Finally, fluoride is not “unnatural”. It’s not any more of less a “chemical” or an “electrolyte” than salt, and it is found in natural water sources (just not in as large a concentration as fluoridated tap water). The worst cases of fluoride poisoning have arisen from well water containing natural fluorides. The fluoride in 5000 liters of fluoridated water could be enough to kill you.

  • Bob Loblaw

    I can’t stand it! Tastes like salt water! They should call it Saltwater instead of Smartwater.

  • Nicole Nogrady

    Huh? It’s water.