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I grew up and live in Santiago

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Americas > Chile > Useful Info
Submitted on Aug 13, 2020 Useful Info

Tap water safety when travelling in Chile (generally safe)

  • Tap water in Chile is generally very safe to drink directly, and you will find most local Chileans drinking from the faucet. Personally I have been drinking from the tap all my life growing up in Santiago. I think this sets us apart from other countries in South America, which usually has pretty bad water quality
  • Water companies are all privately-owned here, but the government has guidelines for the standards and sanitation procedures. All tap water are chlorinated and fluoridated so they're safe from organic/microbial/bacterial contamination
  • However, I still recommend tourists not drink from the tap directly, at least not immediately after arriving in Chile, for 3 reasons:
  1. The main reason is that compared to many places in the world our water has very high mineral content, particularly calcium and magnesium, which may cause stomach discomfort for some visitors (the water is very hard). If you're in Chile for a long time, your body will eventually adapt, but it could be annoying for short-term visitors. This doesn't affect everyone though, only something like fewer than 5% of the tourists are affected
  2. The most common complaint from people is that it tastes different than what you're used to. Many tourists I've met have told me that they think the water here tastes funny. Some said it tastes like metal, and some have complained about the taste of chlorine. Shouldn't be a big issue for most people but keep that in mind. If you want to get rid of the taste you can just put the water in the fridge for an hour and it'll get rid of the taste
  3. Finally, the quality of tap water varies by region:
  • You will definitely want to avoid drinking tap water in the northern part of the country (like San Pedro de Atacama, La Serena), because water in this region has higher amount of arsenic due to mining activities in this region. To be on the safe side, avoid drinking tap water anywhere north Valparaíso
  • In the central part of the country (Santiago, Valparaíso, San Antonio) the tap water is very safe, but the quality of the water is also affected by the pipes that transport the water to you, and some buildings may have old leaking pipes that allows contaminants to get in.
  • In the south in Patagonia the water quality is very good, but again it has very high mineral content. Some people say the water in the south has a slight sweet taste to it but I can't tell the difference
  • On Easter Island the water is also very safe to drink directly from the tap
  • Bottled water is easy to get and cheap everywhere. It's a good idea to get a few bottles when you arrive so you can ease into tap water
  • To get rid of some of the hardness of the tap water, you can also boil it in a kettle first. This won't remove everything but it helps
  • Keep in mind that when you go to restaurants, you will be served tap water unless you specifically ask for bottled water. Keep this in mind when you eat out