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Drinking Water in Mexico-What is the Truth?

Playa del Carmen tricycle, water delivery

Drinking the water in Mexico? Can you?

As soon as you tell anyone you are going to Mexico the first things you hear is “Don’t drink the water”.drinking water in Mexico This is actually an outdated and incorrect statement. If you are coming on vacation you may worry about getting sick from ice in your drink or drinking water in Mexico. So we are here to set it straight. Here is the truth about drinking water in Mexico.

This idea has been perpetuated by people repeating wrong information so we are here to set it straight. Locals and tourist drink the same water. So anything sold, with ice or made from water is going to be from purified drinking water. So at ANY restaurant you are going to be served drinkable water with ice made from purified water. You do not have to ask for a drink with no ice over fears of getting sick. You can enjoy a nice cool drink here.

Tap water in Mexico

So what about brushing your teeth and other uses of the water that comes out of faucets? Each municipality in Mexico treats and sends the water to the community. The level of quality is high varies depending on where you go. In the Riviera Maya and you should have no issues with using it to brush your teeth.

Imagine if it were a problem, the tourist industry would have a backlash against coming to this part of the world. This however does not mean you should be opening your mouth in the shower and gargling the water. It you do end up at a local family’s house where their might be concerns about the quality of care given to the water system, then you might want to use bottled water to brush your teeth. This would really only be a concern if the water tank was not sealed properly and bacteria could grow in the pipes and tank that hold the water supply on the roof of the house.

Some people that live in Playa Del Carmen will use the tap water to cook pasta and rice. This does not seem to bother stomachs but does bother the pans since the water has a high mineral content and leaves a white film on the pots. As for pets people use both bottled water and tap water, so that would be a personal decision. Note: There is concern about kidney stones developing from the high mineral content of tap water over time.

Using water in food preparation

For food preparation most people simply rinse off fruits and vegetables in tap water. The one thing that you should be extra careful about is lettuce. Since it holds a lot of water in after you wash it, be sure to dry it out well before using or use Microdyn. To be extra carful you might want to actually skip a salad on vacation to Mexico.  Microdyn is a product available in most grocery stores and is used with water to rinse food to sanitize it. If you want to be extra carful you can use this product to clean everything before eating. If you have just moved to Mexico and are going to be doing a lot of your own cooking, you might want to try this product at first while your body adjust to the microbes or bacteria in the water.

The water system in Mexico

So why is there all the fuss over water? We first need to examine how the public water system works.

The water system in Mexico is different then that of most places where tourist come from. In most western countries all the water is purified for drinking and pumped to each house. This means that even your toilet gets to use drinking water to flush with. Some might see this as a waste since most water usage in your home is not for drinking. In Mexico the water is cleaned to a certain level and pumped to each building. Water is used for cleaning, bathing and flushing the toilet.

To see how the water system works for houses in Mexico see our article here.

Cost of water in Mexico

Drinking water is picked up in 20 liter bottles or delivered to homes each week. Public water is very cheap in Mexico and so is drinking water. Public water is about 100 pesos (or $7.70 USD) a month in Playa Del Carmen (this includes the delivery in the pipes to your home, and the water leaving your home and then cleaned). The large bottles of water are about 26 pesos each(or $2 USD).

Two people may use one a week so that would be about $9 USD a month in drinking water. Total water bill for the month= about $17 USD. That is pretty cheap compared to many places and this is also including the fee for waste water. The water system also works well after a hurricane. Even if the water system gets contaminated due to flooding, people are already used to the separate drinking water system and life can carry on.

How to get drinking water in Mexico delivered

So how do you start drinking water service? You will need to purchase your fist 20 liter bottle which cost about 80 pesos. Then each time you get a new one you only pay about 26 to 30 pesos for the new one that is full.

You may want to buy two or three of them so you have water on hand and you only need to refill every couple of weeks. There are three main water companies that service these drinking water bottles. Crystal, Agua Pura and Bonafont are the three biggest with Crystal being about 70% more popular. This matters because once you start using one then you have to replace with the same companies bottle. It makes a lot of sense to have water around your house because on all the hot days you will find yourself running to the convenience store and getting a 1.5 liter bottle of water for 12-16 pesos. That can really add up and so does the amount of plastic bottles.

Plastic recycling, Playa Del Carmen

Plastic recycling from all the water bottles.

You have the option of going to your corner store to buy water and hauling it back to your house or if you live in a residential neighborhood, the trucks or men on tricycle bikes will come through your area several times a week yelling out “Agua Crystal!!” or “Bonafont”. If you live in a condo building they may offer the service to have these brought to your door for you. Both delivery people from the trucks or tricycles will offer to bring it up to your house and place it where you want. This can be helpful because it is heavy. A tip is appropriate for their services.

Drinking water containers in Mexico

What about storing the water containers in your house and how do you get the water out? You have three main ways of handling how to use these water jugs:

  1. There is the upside down version as seen in the photo below. This may seem awkward at first but you get used to turning it upside down while the water starts to pour into the container. It does weigh about 21 pound though. There is the cooled water stand as well if you want to keep your water cold with a little help from electricity. The basic stands cost about 200 pesos and can be bought in the grocery stores.
    Drinking water in Mexico

    Drinking water stand for your house.

  2. The second way is a stand that holds the container and tilts down so you can our the water more easily. With this method you still have to have good aim because the mouth is large on the bottle as so is the flow of water.
  3. The last method is the pump. You keep the bottle upright and the pump is a hand siphon that you plunge up and down and get the water. This is the easiest method if you do not want to be lifting the jug. The siphons tend to wear out after a while but they are not costly at around 100 pesos.

Tip: Keep up your water stored out of the sun so it stays cooler. No one likes hot drinking water. If you keep smaller bottles of water stored in your freezer then you can always have cold water. You can also keep a pitcher of fresh water in the refrigerator.

So whether you are coming to Mexico on vacation or living here, DO drink the water, just not the tap water. Enjoy the low cost of water but respect how to keep food clean and your body healthy.

We hope you have enjoyed our article on dinking water in Mexico. If you have any comments or tips let us know in the comments below. We love hearing from our readers.

20 Comments on Drinking Water in Mexico-What is the Truth?

  1. MARIA TERESA STRIMPOPULOS // May 13, 2014 at 12:25 PM // Reply

    In Torreón, Coahuila, we have wáter coming out of the faucet containing arsenic. The wáter is pumped up from artesian wells and the deeper the wáter is pumpped, more arsenic will come out. We use bottled wáter, called Electropura, bottled by Pepsi. There is also Ciel, bottled by Coca Cola and off course Bonafont.

  2. I was doing some research for my trip to Mexico and had some questions about drinking the water and you answered all of them. Thanks.

  3. guess you’ve NEVER been to Mexico, try drinking it in Mazatlán once…… I Dare you!

    • Hello Mike. All of us here live in Mexico. What are you referring to exactly? WE also have been to Mazatlán several times. Are you referring to the ice in drinks or drinking water in Mexico?

  4. I always thought ice was local water. Thanks for clearing that up.

  5. Does the bottled water have Fluoride in it?

    • Hello Natalie
      We have looked at bottled water here and it does not say, so we cannot say for sure. We do believe however that it is not generally added in Mexico to bottled water. Most people get fluoride from table salt in Mexico. We are sure if it is a big concern, asking a local dentist probably will get you a more detailed answer.

  6. Where can we purchase new bottles? Corner stores and even Wal-Mart would only sell us a garafone if we already had one.

    • Usually a corner store or you can stop the water trucks like Agua Crystal that comes around and ask them about buying one. Just remember that once you have bought one brand, they will only exchange it for that brand. Most people like Crystal but it will also depend on what is close to where you live and how easy it is to buy. Thanks for your question.

  7. how do you get your water

    • Mr.Yucatan // May 24, 2017 at 8:03 AM // Reply

      Hello Michael

      Depending on where you live, there are people that come around selling the 5 gallon plastic containers of water for your home. Most corner stores have them for sale. If they are too heavy for you, there are special wheeled carriers for them. In the downtown there are serviced that will deliver to your door. Most people need one per week. We recommend buying three just so you can do it less often.

  8. Great article. We were ciurious what type of filtration system would work for Mexican water for under our kitchen faucet to avoid buying water. Would uv system be adequate or some other type? Please advise

    • Mr.Yucatan // June 20, 2017 at 8:13 AM // Reply

      Hello Loretta

      You do have several options in Mexico. You can have a under the sink filtration system or a whole house system. A whole house system is good for saving wear on hot water tanks and pipes. A reverse osmoses system and carbon filter at the most used here. Once you decide if you want a whole house system or a sink system, you can select exactly which one you want and what level of filtration you are comfortable with.

  9. Peter Pisciotta // August 14, 2017 at 8:13 PM // Reply

    Caution – not all water in Playa del Carmen is provided by Aguakan. Aguakan provides relatively safe water. Because there is so much development, condos run out of water during peak periods. To solve the problem, some condos drill illegal shallow wells and us that water. Before you rent a condo or VRBO, ask the owner if the water comes from Aguakan or if they have a “pozo,” Spanish term for a well. Pozo’s are rarely tested and when they are, have dangerous levels of toxic chemicals that cannot be filtered and are immune to treatments such as iodine, chlorine, or boiling.

  10. Hello soon i will take vacation in playa del carmen( cancun) i am just wondering if the resort all inclusive do they provide us bootled water or the tap water is drinkable?
    thanks in advance.

    • Hello

      The tap water in hotels and resorts is fine to brush your teeth but not drink. There usually are bottles of water to drink in hotel rooms and often there are large jugs of water around the hotel to fill up from. All of these water sources are good to drink and there is not a problem with this type of arrangement. You should be just fine here. We hope you have a great vacation here!

  11. Kim simmonds // October 21, 2017 at 4:05 AM // Reply

    Hi I was wondering how much sodium and sulphate was in a 1 litre bottle of cristol water as I’m traveling to Mexico in Dec and I will have a 2 month baby with me and my health visitor has said I need to be careful with the water I use to make up her feeds . This is the water they use at the hotel I’m traveling to .

    • Hello Kim

      Agua Cristal has on the large containers of water that for every 240ml there is less than 5 mg of sodium. We hope this helps you.

  12. Hi,
    My sister says the tap water in Playa del Carmen smells like it has sulfur in it. I think it smells like chlorine. She’s a know it all. Who’s right? 🙂

    • Would if said you could both be right? That would keep the peace. We would say it is more chlorine. The water in most places does not smell like sulfur but it can vary we guess in some areas but it is all provided the by the same company.

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