by Emily Hernandez, IX Water intern

Water is everywhere and can be found in practically everything. However, what many people don’t know is just how much water is used to make some of our everyday essentials. In fact, a lot of water goes into making one of the most common household essentials – milk.

Milk, for example, is often thought to be just milk. In reality, milk is 87% water, and cows consume 30-50 gallons of water every day to make it, which is almost 415 pounds of water per day. While that may seem like a lot of water, it takes roughly 4.5 pounds of water to make just 1 pound of milk. That translates to roughly 1/2 of a gallon of water for every 1/8 of a gallon of milk. 

However, milk from the cow is no longer our only option as vegan and lactose-free alternatives have become more popular. Because these milk alternatives are not found naturally, but must instead be made, they require water to make them into a milk-like beverage.

Almond milk and oat milk are two popular examples of milk alternatives. It takes about 1.1 gallons of water to make a single almond, and 92 almonds make up about 1 cup. With almond milk, there is generally a ratio of 1:3 or 1:4 cups of almonds to water. This means that it can take up to 101 gallons of water to make just 1 cup of almonds, plus an additional 3 or 4 cups of water to make a small serving of almond milk. In fact, many store brand almond milks only have about 2% of almonds actually in them – the rest is water! 

Oats generally require about 6 times less water than almonds to make. Different types of oats require slightly different amounts of water to make, but rolled oats are most common in oat milks. Rolled oats take about 145 gallons of water to grow 1/2 pound of oats, or about 1 cup. Like almond milk, oat milk generally has a ratio of 1:4 cups of oats to water, sometimes with an additional cup or two to soak the oats in beforehand. In the end, oat milk takes about 145 gallons and an additional 4-6 cups of water to make from beginning to end. 

As you can see, all kinds of milk require a lot of water to turn into the delicious beverages many of us love to enjoy. But with communities needing more and more water every day, it can be hard to accept the fact that so much water is used in so many foods and drinks when it could be going towards individuals who need it most. However, at IX Water we are finding ways to reuse water that may have previously simply been discarded. That way, we can be sure to utilize as much water as we can, while making sure everyone can keep enjoying their milk – no matter how much water it may take to make.