I will move to Nanjing, China in the future. I’m slightly worried about the quality of drinking water and water for cooking etc. What is the best option?

  • Tap water - almost certainly a bad idea? as could contain bacteria and harmful pollutants
  • Bottled water. I have heard that even standards for bottled water are poor. Are any brands especially reliable? Is it affordable to use only bottled water?
  • A water filtration system. Can they return tap water to a safe, good standard? Is there a particular type that is suitable for China’s tap water? Do they require much maintainance?
  • Delivery of barreled water for use in a water cooler. This sounds convenient, but are the suppliers reputable?

3 Answers 3


You can buy an electric kettle to boil your water. That'll take care of any bacteria, although it still might contain heavy metals.

I buy big jugs of C'estbon water. A jug will last me 2 or 3 days, and they are only about 8RMB per. But boiling water should be good enough, to be honest. If you really want to, you can filter first then boil.

I don't like the big water barrels for water coolers, we have those at my work but sometimes the water has a slight 'bleachy' taste to it, as if they didn't rinse out the barrel good enough before refilling it.


If you’re really worried about water and don’t trust any bottled water distributors, then filtering your own water is the best solution:

  • activated charcoal filters whether tap or tabletop jug type (“Brita”) do a fair job with chemicals and some can remove lead and bacteria. But they are expensive and slow.

  • reverse osmosis will get rid of almost everything that can harm you although it is water wasteful and you need to get new filters and matrix every now and then

  • distilled water is the gold standard but is extremely energy consumptive

With distilled water, you may even want to get some minerals and electrolytes put back in as distilled water tastes a bit off if you’re not used to it.


Tap water is very clean, but not sure to the point of drinking it directly. Locals don't drink it, so you won't. I use it for cooking washing dishes etc, no problems. Bottle water is also very clean, you really should not worry about it. There are bad people who might recycle the bottles but honestly this would be more expensive to do than to sell the real thing which is quite cheap already. I've never had to filter any water, locals don't filter either as they drink boiled water mostly.Barreled water I have had for drinking, but I did found they were sending just regular water with dirty in the bottom so from that time I only buy bottled water.

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