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Is it Safe to Drink the Water in Cancún, Mexico?
Mexico is #1 in the world for per capita bottled water and soft drink consumption
A big concern for many travelers from abroad to Mexico and Cancún, is the infamous Montezuma’s Revenge - also known as travelers diarrhea. People fear getting sick from drinking the water, but the culprit is more often deficient hygiene in food preparation. Fresh produce that has not been properly washed and disinfected is the leading cause of this famous malady. It is important to know that produce comes from the farm to the store, and usually is not washed, so there will be some soil and fertilizer that needs to be washed off. The best procedure to sanitize produce is to soak it in water with a cap full of iodine or colloidal silver solution for 15 minutes. All grocery stores sell these iodine or colloidal silver products in their produce section, usually in dark blue bottles. Most restaurants are diligent in disinfecting their produce; but use basic common sense. If the hygiene of an establishment is questionable, go elsewhere, just as you would at home.
There are conspiracy theories which claim that powerful multi-national alcoholic beverage and soft drink Interests have spread this pervasive rumor about not being able to drink the water in Mexico in order to boost their beverage sales. If true, it has been a brilliant stratagem. More bottled water is consumed per capita in Mexico than anywhere else in the world. Annual per person consumption of bottled water in Mexico is 61.8 gallons, compared to 30 gallons in the United States. Mexico is also the number one consumer of carbonated soft drinks per capita in the world. Mexico’s bottled water market represents 13 percent of the world’s total!
It wasn’t always this way. When I was growing up in Mexico City, there were public water fountains in parks and schools, and nobody worried about drinking it. Pervasive and successful advertising campaigns by companies like Nestlé, Pepsi, and Coca-Cola have totally convinced Mexicans and tourists alike that they need to buy their water from them in plastic bottles. I drink tap water at home which is run through an activated charcoal filter to neutralize the taste.
While I would not advise drinking water from a river, the Municipal water supply in Cancún is chlorinated, so bugs should not be an issue – though the taste might. All ice cubes sold here are from purified water, so feel free to enjoy them. This does not apply to private well water, as the microbial composition of these is unknown and it is generally not chlorinated. That being said, the water in the Yucatan peninsula is very hard – or rich in Calcium Chloride (what is commonly known as hard water). The well water here is in fact so hard, that in some remote Mayan villages, which rely strictly on well water, people can be seen with “Turtle Teeth“, which is where the highly mineralized water causes the teeth to become fused together and thus resemble those of a turtle. A passing visitor need not worry about becoming a stand in for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The water here is fine in terms of not getting sick, but I strongly advise buying bottled water for drinking, as the tap water has a “hard” taste and the purified water is a bargain at about $2.00 U.S.D. for a 5 gallon jug. Here at Art Deco Suites, we have never had anyone tell us that they got sick from our water, and in fact we pass our water supply through several filters in order to remove some of the hardness. It is O.K. to open your eyes and mouth when showering, and even brush your teeth! You will be none the worse for it.
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