What are the Differences between Primo Water and Glacier Water?

May 22, 2020

At Primo Water, we do our best to talk to our customers and learn from the feedback that you share with us. Many of you have told us that you weren’t aware that Glacier Water is part of the Primo Water family. It’s true – Glacier’s Self-Service Refill machines, located at thousands of retail stores nationwide, provide high quality, great-tasting drinking water that goes through a 5-step purification process (just like Primo’s Self-Service Refill Water does!).

Throughout this blog post, we’ll walk you through the differences between Primo Water Pre-Filled Exchange Water, Primo Water Self-Service Refill Water, and Glacier Self-Service Refill Water. We’ll also highlight the things that all three solutions have in common (hint: safe, high-quality, great-tasting drinking water that you can count on!).


Primo Water Pre-Filled Exchange Water

You can get Primo Water Pre-Filled Exchange Water at thousands of retail stores across the country. You’ll find our 3-gallon and 5-gallon bottles on what we call the “Exchange Rack.” Nearby, there will be a Return Center where you can exchange your empty bottle for a discount on your next one. Remember: Exchange is not a deposit program. Your first bottle of Primo Water costs more, but we’re able to offer you a discount (nearly 50% off, on average*) on your next bottle when you bring it back for us to recycle.

Throughout the country, our bottling facilities take the bottles you return to us and clean, inspect and sterilize them. Then, they put water from local public water systems through a 9-step purification process that includes steps like carbon filtration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet sterilization to ensure safe, high-quality water that you can trust, free from contaminants that may be found in tap water. We even add our signature blend of minerals for the delicious taste you’ve come to know and love.

Primo Water Self-Service Refill Water

Primo Water also offers Self-Service Refill Stations at thousands of retail locations nationwide. You’ll find Primo Water Refill machines inside the store and pay for the water at the cash register with the rest of your items. While some stores sell Primo Water’s Empty & Reusable Bottles (available in 1-gallon, 2-gallon, 3-gallon and 5-gallon sizes) near the Self-Service Refill Machine, other stores don’t sell bottles. Consider bringing your own empty container to refill. If you don’t have one yet, you can start with a Pre-Filled Exchange bottle or purchase bottles on our website.

The water that you get from Primo Water’s Self-Service Refill machines goes through a 5-step purification process right there at the machine. That’s right – your water goes through carbon filtration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet sterilization inside the store! Our expert Refill Technicians visit the machines routinely to keep them clean and in good working order. Plus, the machines are smart enough to shut down if they aren’t removing contaminants effectively, so you can trust that your water is safe. All that for an average* price of just $0.35 per gallon!


Glacier Self-Service Refill Water

In 2017, Primo Water acquired Glacier Water, the national leader in providing Self-Service Refill Water, with thousands of locations nationwide. Many Glacier Refill stations are located outside of a retail store (or in the vestibule), but Glacier Self-Service Refill Machines can be found inside, too. Many Glacier Water machines allow you to vend and pay for your water directly at the machine (rather than at the store’s cash register) using cash, coins, credit cards or mobile pay options. This means you can get high-quality, great-tasting water whenever you need it, even if the store isn’t open.

Other than payment options, the look & feel of the machines, and location, Primo and Glacier’s Self-Service Refill Machines are pretty much the same. Glacier Water goes through the same 5-step purification process, including carbon filtration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet sterilization. Our trained Refill technicians visit the Glacier Water machines routinely to keep them clean and in great working order. And the machines are monitored in real-time to alert us of any issues (and automatically shut off if a malfunction is causing water to be vended below our strict standards).



How to Choose the Right Water

Now that you know the similarities (and differences) between Primo Water’s drinking water solutions, we hope it’s easier for you to choose what works for you! Of course, there’s no need to commit to just one. Many people switch between Pre-Filled Exchange and Self-Service Refill – and that’s awesome. Check out the table below for some additional points of comparison:


Primo Pre-Filled Exchange Water Primo Self-Service Refill Water  Glacier Self-Service Refill Water
Average* Price (for 5 Gallons) $6.99 (with bottle trade-in) $1.75 ($0.35 per gallon) $1.75 ($0.35 per gallon)
Carbon Filtration X X X
Reverse Osmosis X X X
Ultraviolet Sterilization X X X
 Added Minerals for Taste X
 Bottle Sterilization X
 Pay at the Machine X


*These are average prices. Actual prices will vary by retail location.