The best bottled water in Russia

I wrote in my blog post about the safety of tap water in Saint Petersburg that many people in Saint Petersburg prefer to buy some kind of bottled water. And Saint Petersburg doesn’t have Russia’s worst water. In other Russian cities the need to buy bottled water is even greater. But which bottled water should you buy? And, which bottled water should you avoid like the plague. That’s what I discuss in this article. 

Not all bottled water is equal

There are 2 kinds of bottled water:

  1. Bottled drinking water
  2. Bottled mineral water

Some further divide the second category into the following subcategories:

  • bottled natural mineral water
  •  bottled water with minerals artificially added to it

The law

Russian Law makes a distinction between ‘first category water and water of the highest category.

First category water (вода первой категории)

First category water, that doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, you might want to reconsider that.

A more honest name for first category water would be ‘water that is better than tap water’. Often this water is indeed tap water that has been more vigorously cleaned than the water from the tap. So, indeed, it is somewhat better. But do you want to drink it all the time? Probably not.

Water of the highest category (вода высшей категории)

Normally this is water from natural sources, like underground water, that can’t be polluted so easily. It’s not enough, according to the law, for this water to just be safe. It actually has to be good for your health to drink this water!

The research from Roskachestvo

The Russian autonomous governmental agency Roskachestvo was only founded in 2015.

Roskachestvo is an autonomous agency, but is financed with goverment funds and its aim is to promote Russian product in Russia and abroad and to enhance the trust that people place in Russian products.
So the agency obviously has an agenda. Of course this doesn’t render its research useless, but it is something to keep in mind when looking at it.

In a press release that was published on 18 September 2017 (in Russian only)  Roskachestvo noted few problems with bottled drinking water and bottled mineral water. Water, which was labelled as water of the highest catory, however, often didn’t meet quality standards.

The judgement of Roskachestvo

Roskachestvo had a look at 58 different brands of bottled water and placed each one of them in one of the following categories:

  • Product with a Quality Seal (4 brands)
  • Products of higher quality (5 brands)
  • Quality Products (37 brands)
  • Products with shortcomings (12 brands)

It seems to me that the best water according to Roskachestvo is that from one of the four brands that have received the right to use Roskachestvo’s Quality Seal.

The Russian Quality Seal, the big К, stand for Quality (Качество in Russian)

Those brands which have gained the right to use this Russian quality sign may do so for a period of 2-3 years, depending on the product category.

The best bottled water according to Roskachestvo

Here are the four brands of bottled water that have gained this right of usage in September 2017:

  1. Aquanika
    Aquanika bottled water

    Famous selling point: Perekrestok supermarkets.
    Kind of water:  mineral water

  2. Volzhanka
    Volzhanka Russian bottled water

    Famous selling point: the company’s website or other water resellers
    Kind of water: water of the highest category

  3. Novoterskaya
    Novoterskaya Russian bottled water

    Famous selling point: Auchan Supermartkets, Perekrestok Supermarkets
    Kind of water: First category water

  4. Prostoe Dobro

    Prostoe Dobro Russian bottled water

Famous selling point: the company’s website and other webshops.
Kind of water:  water of the highest category
About: the producer of this water is a non-commercial  organisation. They promise to donate all the profit they generate to charity.

Russian brands are the best according to Roskachestvo? A coincedence? Maybe.

The worst bottled water according to Roskachestva

  1. Aragan
    Aragan Russian bottled water

    Kind of water:  water of the highest category
    Flaws:The content of silicates, insufficient macro / micronutrients, lack of fluoride, water is too soft. Roskachestvo calls this water very enigmatically ‘potentially not unsafe’.

  2. Billa
    Billa Russian bottled water

    Kind of water:  water of the highest category
    Flaw:  the water does not contain enough magnesium. The water is absolutely safe though, according to Roskachestvo.

  3. Biovita
    Biovita Russian bottled water

    Kind of water:  mineral water
    Flaws:  large number of microorganisms, lack of magnesium, too much calcium. According to Roskachestvo these flaws are not dangerous. The microorganisms might make the water expire quicker however.

  4. Courtois
    Courtois Russian bottled water

    Kind of water:  water of the highest category
    Flaw: The water is absolutely safe, according to Roskachestva, but does not contain enough iodine to deserve the label ‘water of the highest category’

  5. 365 Dney
    365 dney Russian bottled water

    Kind of water:  water of the highest category
    About: this water is meant for toddlers
    Flaws: the water is saturated with boron. Roskachestva points out that having elevated concentrations of boron in your body may cause disturbances in digestion, in the work of the kidneys and liver. They do call the water safe however.

    I would say this is especially worrying as this water is put in the market as water for toddlers. Strangely enough Roskachestvo doesn’t remind us of this.

  6. Arkhyz
    Arkhyz Russian bottled water

    Kind of water:  mineral water
    Flaws: A large number of microorganisms , the water is too soft, too low concentration of hydrocarbonates. The microorganisms in the water might make it expire quicker. Roskachestvo calls this water ‘absolutely safe’ though.

  7. Bakhetle
    Bakhetle Russian bottled water

    Kind of water:  water of the highest category
    Flaws: does not contain as much potassium and fluorine as a human being needs. Roskachestvo calls it ‘absolutely safe’.

  8. Glavvoda
    Glavvoda Russian bottled water

    Kind of water: water of the highest category
    Flaws: Does not contain enough potassium, magnesium and fluorine. Roskachestvo calls it absolutely safe.

  9. D Dixi
    D Dixi Russian bottled water

    Kind of water:  water of the highest category
    Flaws: does not contain enough magnesium and fluorine. It is labelled ‘absolutely safe’ by Roskachestvo though.

  10. Norda
    Norda Russian bottled water

    Kind of water:  water of the highest category
    Flaws:  Not enough potassium, calcium and fluoride, the water is too soft, invalid marking for chlorides. Water is labelled ‘absolutely safe’ by Roskachestvo though.

  11. Uleymskaya
    Uleymskaya Russian bottled water

    Kind of water:  water of the highest category
    Flaws: the of water contains sodium, the water is too soft, n bright light the water seems not transparent enough. This water is labelled ‘safe’ by Roskachestvo.

  12. Elbrus 
    Elbrus Russian bottled water

    Kind of water:  water of the highest category
    Flaws: the water contains a large number of microorganisms, it does not contain enough potassium and is too soft. It is labelled ‘absolutely safe’ by Roskachestvo though.

    The Roskachestvo app

    It’s hard to remember all these brands and, moreover, recommendations might change over time. It is therefore kind of neat that Roskachestvo has released its own app for android and for iPhones.
    The app is free and with it you can simply scan a products bar code in the store and see whether it has been tested by Roskachestvo.

The research from Roskontrol

Roskachestvo is not the only organisation that makes quality judgements about products on the Russian market. You also have Roskontrol. Roskontrol is a non-governmental organization, which aims to bring together leading Russian scientific institutions, research laboratories and consumer protection organizations.
Roskontrol is financed from voluntary contributions from individuals and organizations.

The best bottled water in Russia according to Roskontrol:

  1. Arkhyz
    Akhryz Russian bottled water

    Sounds familiar to you? Right, this is the same water that didn’t meet the standards according to Roskachestvo!

  2. Nestle Pure life

    Russian bottled watre Neslte Pure life
  3. Senezhkaya 

    Senezhkaya Russian water
  4. Kalinov Rodnik

    Kalinov Rodnik Russian bottled water

Blacklist

If a product forms a threat to the life and health of a consumer or if the producer presents the product purposefully in a deceptive way to the consumer it will be blacklisted by Roskontrol. The following types of bottled have been blacklisted by Roskontrol:

  1. Shishkin les 
    Shishkin les Russian bottled water

    Flaw: Too many microbes at a temperature of 22 ° C

  2. Bonaqua 
    Bonaqua Russian bottled water

    Flaw: contains ammonium cations

  3. Baikal 
    Baikal Russian bottled water

    Flaw: too many microbes at temperature of 37 ° C

    Roskontroll app

    New products can be put on the black list and old products can be taken off. An easy way to check a product right away in the supermarket is by downloading the Roskontrol app. It can be downloaded for android and IOS here. To be honest I haven’t tried this myself yet. So I can’t tell you yet whether this is actually as comfortable as it seems.

    Conclusion

This is confusing, isn’t it? The same brand (Arkhyz) being called bad by Roskachestvo and among the best by Roskontrol. Unfortunately I am not an expert on the testing of water.
What is important to know is that none of the product tested has been found to be really dangerous by the experts. However, if you are having some problems with your health you may want to look further into the research. It’s in Russian only though. My personal tactic is to not drink the same water all the time.

You should also keep in mind that not all products have been tested. So there might actually be worse products around than the ones tested. I would prefer to buy one of the recommended products definitely.

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