Save money by making your own bottled water

By glblguy

Bottled Water
Photo by: shaymus022

We’ve been buying bottled water now for more than 10 years. Call me spoiled if you will, but I just can’t stand the taste of tap water. We’ve tried the Brita pitcher, the Pur 3 faucet mount filters, and many others. None of them tasted as clean as bottled water.

We generally try to purchase our bottled water when it’s on sale, but it’s not nearly on sale as much as we would like it to be. We drink roughly 120 bottles of water a month. A 24-pack of Dannon water runs $3.99 – $4.99 depending on where we buy it. That’s 5 packs per month at the cost of $19.95 – 24.95 per month, or $239.40 – $299.40 per year.

Enter the RO/DI Filter

I’ve written before about my saltwater aquarium hobby and how particular saltwater fish are about their water. Saltwater aquariums require pristine water conditions, and as a result I ended up having to purchase an RO/DI filter to create 99% pure water for my tank. RO/DI stands for Reverse-Osmosis/Di-ionizing. While both of these processes are required for maintaining a healthy saltwater aquarium, only the reverse osmosis filter is required for creating excellent quality drinking water. Actually, drinking water that has been through the DI process can be unhealthy, not to mention it tastes funny.

Many of the bottled waters being sold in stores contain nothing more than standard tap water that has been run through the reverse osmosis process. RO water is generally 99% pure and tastes as good as most bottled waters. Here’s the best part, it’s significantly cheaper. I purchased my RO/DI filter on eBay from from a company called purewaterclub*com for $100.50 including shipping, the cost of 4 months of bottled water. The filter cartridges in the RO filter, given normal usage, will last about a year before you have to replace them.

Many stores have machines that dispense pure drinking water. Our local Wal-Mart has one of these. If you read about the water the machine is dispensing, it’s RO water. That machine basically has a high volume RO filter in it. Chances are though, the RO filters cartridges aren’t changed as often as the should, and the water isn’t near as pure as you would get at home.

The money you can save by purchasing your own filter is tremendous. Just in a year the savings would be almost $200.00! That would take a nice chunk out of your debt snowball.

Benefit your plants too

One of the downsides of the RO filters is they only make about 1 gallon of pure water for every 5 gallons of input water. So for each gallon that goes into the filter, you get 1 gallon of filtered water, and 4 gallons of “waste water”. Many people just send the waste water down the drain. Instead, I have the waste water running into a cheap trashcan. Turns out, plants thrive on the waste water. We’ve been using the waste water to water our flowers and shrubs for about 2 months now and they look great. We also use it to top off our garden pond, since there are no fish in it. The waste water has really made a big difference in our plants. This is particularly true for our roses, as they seem to really like whatever is in that waste water.

Tired of spending your hard earned money on bottles of water? Tired of throwing away all of those plastic water bottles? Purchase your own water filter and make your own bottled water. They are easy to install and it literally took me all of 15 minutes to mount it and have it up and running. The water tastes just as good as bottled water and is far cheaper.

Do you have an RO filter or other type of water filter? How does yours work? Are you loyal to bottled water? If so why? Share your thoughts, add a comment!

28 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Save money by making your own bottled water”

  1. Debt Free Revolution Says:

    What an interesting solution, Gibble! Now I am really curious what is in the “waste” water that your plants love so much (can’t help it, too many chemistry classes). I wonder if your local water filtration facility would know…?

  2. ChristianPF Says:

    You are right – a friend of mine does this and has save a lot of cash by not having to buy water… One of the things he mentioned to be careful of is to find other ways to get minerals into your body, since RO water takes just about everything out of the water – the bad and the good minerals that our bodies need.

  3. deepali Says:

    A few more benefits:
    1. Bottled water ranks up there with dirty coal in terms of wrecking our planet. Buying a filter is also good stewardship.
    2. Bottled water is unregulated, and a number of studies have shown that it generally contains more harmful bacteria and chemicals than average tap water. Buying your own filter is also good for your health.

  4. Chelle Says:

    I don’t like bottled water or public tap water. I grew up with an artisan spring well for water. I am so spoiled because of it!

  5. Ron@TheWisdomJournal Says:

    We’ve actually enjoyed our Brita pitcher. We have a very tall, but very thin tank in the fridge that we keep filled with Brita water. It sure makes a difference with coffee!

    I just got back from a trip to east Texas. The amount of chlorine in the water there was just shy of Clorox, or at least of a hot tub! Bleh!

  6. debtdieter Says:

    Not to mention how you save the environment by not buying and tossing all those empty plastic bottles!

  7. Susan Says:

    This is something I want to look in to since my husband and I buy bottled water. The cost adds up, as well as the bottles – even if you reuse them!
    Thanks for the info!

  8. Curious Cat Economics Blog Says:

    The 4 gallons of “waste” water seems a bit crazy to me. But if that is put to good use (and probably even if it isn’t) the environmental benefits of not buying bottled water would be great. So if the choice is between this filtered water and bottled water you can also put in the plus column for the filter that you are avoiding a great deal of damage to the environment.

    Most people don’t need the filter and could save much more just using tap water.

  9. glblguy Says:

    @Ana – I’m not sure to be honest. Good question though. Let me know if you dig anything up.

    @ChristianPF – Good point Bob. There are lots of articles on this topic from folks on both sides of the fence.

    @Curious Cat – Yeah, the 4 gallons is a lot. The more water pressure you have going into the filter, the less waste you have. Mine’s about 40psi, but you can purchase booster pumps that will get it up around 60psi and it reduces the amount of waste water. I don’t need the filter, but the tap is just nasty!

  10. Dividends4Life Says:

    I have an Auquasuana filter installed in my kitchen. i would never go back to tap water again.

    Best Wishes,

  11. Leslie Raymond Says:

    Though I haven’t purchased the great filter you did, I made a similar move. Equally disgusted by the rising cost of bottled water, the lack of quality in bottled water, and the waste I create by consuming it, I broke down and got a Brita pitcher. I love rolling by the bottled water in the grocery store now, knowing that I don’t have to spend $10 a week on it anymore is a nice deduction on my grocery bill. We’re a family of four that drinks mostly water, so it’s a big part of our diet. When I buy a house, I’ll definitely get an RO filter. You make a good argument!

  12. Shanti @ Antishay Says:

    I used to have a 50 gallon tropical saltwater tank with a sump… ah, the memories! All the coral and fish!

    ANYWAY *ahem*

    I grew up on filtered water. In the 70s my parents bought a water filter for something like $1000 and it was awesome. They had to replace the filter every year, and the water was delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever had non-filtered water in my home. That being said, I also never had bottled water because I always had access to filtered water. Here in Seattle we have fantastic water that comes from the mountains and they don’t put much in it (I’ve had the water in other states… BLEH. Particularly Illinois and Nevada. BLEH!). On my own, I have a Brita now and love it. My boyfriend and best friend and mom all have filters too, so… I always have fresh water! Yours is a clever solution – if the water here was horrible,

  13. Shanti @ Antishay Says:

    … I would get an RO filter.

    (Don’t know why it cut off!)

  14. Shamelle @ Enhance Life Says:

    I save a few dollars by re-filling boiled water into a bottle whenever we go on trips or hikes. I have done this for the past 3 years and surely must have saved over $1000 !

  15. glblguy Says:

    Thanks for the great comments everyone.

    @Shanti – Don’t worry, I just think WordPress gets hungry sometimes and eats comments. It happens every once in a while!

  16. Elizabeth Says:


    I had an RO filtration system installed when we had our kitchen remodeled about 4 years ago. It was the first decision I made and the first purchase I made regarding the remodel. I bought it from Costco — can’t remember the name. I have to change the filters every 6 months. The plumber who installed it was on the ball and offered to locate the tank in the basebment laundry room directly under the kitchen instead of under the kitchen sink. Not only do I still have all of my under-sink space, but the water is cool in the summer because the tank is in the basement.

    Installing this system is hands-down one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I drink nothing but water and I’m very, very picky about the water I drink. I buy bottled water only when necessary (away from home) and I cannot stand the taste of tap water.

    I’d love to hear more about how you rigged your RO wastewater system though. I hate the fact that I waste so much water and would love to find a way to reclaim and reuse ours.

  17. Carrie Says:

    I have a Pur filter on my sink, and we have a whole house sediment filter. The filtered water tastes and smells much better than the from the tap stuff.

    Regarding bottled water – my husband travels for work, and he only purchases Evian water. We have observed that other brands that we have tried often come out of the bottle with a funny taste, and particularly, Evian is the only brand we’ve found that doesn’t acquire an off flavor when it heats up (like it would in a vehicle or in the sun).

    There are some expensive whole house filters that we’ve looked at, but it’s hard to swallow spending $6,000 on a filtering system, even when there are health benefits to not washing our selves or our stuff in such chemical-laden water!

  18. glblguy Says:

    @Elizabeth – All I did was route the waste water tubing out into into my garage. I purchased an $11.00 trashcan from Wal-Mart, drilled a small hole in the top and put the waste water tubing in there.

    I don’t make water all the time like you though, so I can stop the filter when the waste water tank is full.

    You can purchase float values that will turn the filter off when the waste tank is full and you can also hook multiple trashcans together using some PVC piping to give you more waste water containment. I’ve even seen people use PVC so the waste can only fills to a certain level than anything over that goes in the drain.

    Mine is very simple and manual. Plan to “automate” it a little more once we get our new home.

    @Carrie – Evian is my favorite as well, but it’s expensive!

  19. Matt Says:

    I know a bit about RO and RO/DI systems… first off, great decision to use your system vs. buying bottled water and wasting all those bottles. Second, RO/DI water is fine to drink, but the DI filter must be specifically “tuned” for drinking water use. If you use basic DI resins, the result will be pure but very bad tasting water. (See [Pure Water Systems, Inc.] for a residential RO/DI design that makes excellent tasting water.)

    About the 4-5 gallons of “waste” — that is high and a proper RO design should limit that to about 2.5 – 3 gallons, depending on pressure. Keep in mind this is a tremendously economical way to have a huge impact on purity. 99% pure by an RO filter is not accurate – even the very best RO filters only get about 95% in the real world. And a budget system from costco not only needs frequent replacement of all filters, the purification drops off quickly over the 6-month cycle.

    Drinking pure RO or RO/DI water will NOT pull minerals from your body – this is not phyiologically possible unless you eat NO food and have kidney problems. There are many places on the planet with drinking water supplies with almost no mineral content and those populations are suffering as a result. (Vancouver BC for example) Mountain streams and lakes are often very low in mineral content, but well water can be high. The amount of trace minerals in water is not a constant.

    As for RO waste water re-use — be sure not to run the tubing for too long a distance. The back-pressure will reduce the effectiveness of the RO filter.

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  25. bonus bagging Says:

    About the 4-5 gallons of “waste” — that is high and a proper RO design should limit that to about 2.5 – 3 gallons, depending on pressure. Keep in mind this is a tremendously economical way to have a huge impact on purity. 99% pure by an RO filter is not accurate – even the very best RO filters only get about 95% in the real world. And a budget system from costco not only needs frequent replacement of all filters, the purification drops off quickly over the 6-month cycle.

  26. Bonus Bagging Says:

    This 4 gallons associated with “waste” normal water looks a bit outrageous if you ask me. Nevertheless in the event that that is place to great use (and most likely regardless of whether it isn’t) environmentally friendly great things about not necessarily purchasing water in bottles could well be wonderful. Thus when the choice is actually between this specific strained normal water and water in bottles it’s also possible to place in this plus column for the filtration system that you’re staying away from quite a lot of harm to the surroundings.

    Many people don’t require this filtration system and may even help save far more simply using plain tap water.