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P.T. Barnum would have loved concepts behind Liquid Death
Dennis Wyatt 2022
Dennis Wyatt

Plastic is evil.

Aluminum is good.

It’s the premise behind yet another “water product” dubbed “Liquid Death.”

I rarely buy bottled water.

When I do, it is to carry “just in case” in the car or at home.

I’ve been drinking tap water for 66 years. It hasn’t killed me yet.

I even have been known — horror of horrors —to drink water from a garden hose.

A few years back when doing so while watering in the front yard, a passing woman admonished me as to how dangerous the practice was.

Rest assured the carcinogens in today’s hoses are downright healthy compared to what was in them in the 1960s.

That’s when drinking from a garden hose was a daily summer routine for kids.

Why I bought two cans of Liquid Death for more than $1 a pop while shopping last weekend at WinCo in Tracy was simple.


I thought it was a stupid name.

The part of me that spent $5 on a Pet Rock back in mid-1976 some seven months after they sold like hot cakes for $10 during the 1975 Christmas season, decided to buy two cans of Liquid Death as a gag.

If you have no idea what a Pet Rock is, it was marketing and packaging genius P.T. Barnum would’ve loved.

It involved one smooth beach rock placed in a McDonald’s Happy Meal style package complete with a little straw and a 32-page owner’s manual on how to care for a Pet Rock.

I bought Liquid Death’s “Mountain Water” and “Severed Lime.”

Again, the name hooked me.

I’ve tasted better water.

And it’s not just water from a cold mountain stream at 11,000 feet run through a purification system.

Tap water allowed to set in the fridge for a few days so the chlorine — the last treatment that is kind of overkill insurance in the treatment process — can dissipate. Nothing tests better or is cooler than tap water in the fridge that’s been sitting in a thick glass container.

And that bottle is reusable.

That is an important point given what supposedly drives the folks who sell Liquid Death.

They proudly point out on their cans — and website — that the average aluminum can is made up of 70 percent recycled aluminum while the average plastic bottle contains only 3 percent recycled material.

They also cite the fact more than 75 percent of the aluminum produced since 1888 is still in use thanks primarily to recycling.

The firm also donates 10 percent of their profits — which you will find out are obscene in a moment — of every can sold is donated to charities to help kill plastic pollution.

Such high-profile statements might lead you to believe Liquid Death is on the vanguard of green sensibilities.

Far from it.

The “Mountain Water,” according to the folks at Liquid Death, was imported from the Austrian Alps.

It doesn’t take a Greta Thunberg to grasp the lunacy of this.

The carbon footprint needed to can water in Austria and then ship it by boat, rail and truck to reach the shelves of a store in Tracy is insane.

Especially when it’s something that you can get from just turning on a faucet.

And I may not be a connoisseur of water, whether it is mountain, spring, or sparking import from France, I seriously doubt the masses they are counting on buying Liquid Death are either.

I am not being disingenuous in that the “Mountain Water” wasn’t as good tasting as other water. And even though it sat in the fridge for two days it wasn’t as cold as that from a re-useable glass container.

So how frivolous is buying Liquid Death and other bottled or canned water in containers that hold 16.9 ounces as opposed to let’s say buying a Pet Rock?

Take look at your City water bill.

There is a monthly charge for the cost of maintenance, operation, and eventual replacement of parts  of the municipal water system. Just like your house it needs repairs and replacement work as the years go by.

Then there is the charge for the actual water you use.

It uses water jargon instead of plain language to tell you your usage in CCFs. One CCF is the equivalent to 100 cubic feet of water.

Still can’t visualize that?

The 100 cubic feet of water is the equivalent to 748 gallons or 95,744 ounces.

And based on 16.9 ounces of water in containers we plunk down anywhere from $1 to $2 for at your neighborhood 7-Eleven, that 100 cubic feet of water fills 5,665 bottles of water.

The City charges you per cubic foot for actual water usage or the equivalent of water you can buy by purchasing 5,665 16.9-ounce bottles.

Yes, a true apple to apple comparison would toss in the monthly base price you pay for city water service.

That’s a little tricky to do without knowing how many 16.9-ounce bottles of water you buy each month. But given it is nowhere near 5,665 bottles that the monthly base rate barely increases the cost per bottle equivalent of water obtained from the city.

And if it is really a taste/quality/health issue why do the same people who eschew tap water have no qualms with drinking water served them in a restaurant instead of taking in their own bottles? You’ll never guess where restaurants get the water they serve guests.
Between marketing by major bottlers — many owned by soda companies — and “scare” postings on the Internet concerning domestic water supplies, they have done an effective job of scaring people out of their money to buy something that costs them  5,665 times more than it should.
If you doubt the safety of tap water consider this: Manteca households benefit from cutting edge technology at the South San Joaquin County Surface Water Treatment Plant which is without question the most advanced in the region.
Yet people will buy Select brand water from Safeway that is bottled in Merced and initially goes through a municipal treatment that isn’t as advanced in terms of effectiveness as most Valley cities.
In terms of safety and price — and I’d argue taste if you just let it sit for a while so the chlorine gases can disperse — what comes from your tap is superior to what comes in a plastic bottle from a plant that uses municipal water from elsewhere that isn’t treated as thoroughly as it is locally.

As for Liquid Death, I’ve reached my lifetime limit of two cans.