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How Much Water Does It Take to Make a Gallon of Milk?

fresh milk in glass and pitcher

According to numerous studies, anywhere from 4.0–4.5 gallons of water are required to make just one gallon of cow milk. About 95% of this water goes into growing the cow’s feed. If you look at vegan milk sources, even more water is required to make just one gallon of milk.

For a more in-depth look at how much water it takes to produce a gallon of milk, keep reading. This article breaks down how much water is required to make cow milk, almond milk, and oat milk.

Divider 2How Much Water Is Needed for a Gallon of Cow Milk?

When most people think of milk, they think that milk is the only ingredient in the drink. However, some studies suggest that milk is made up of about 87% water. After all, cows consume a lot of water every day. Most cows drink between 30–50 gallons of water just to produce milk.

Because so much water is required to produce milk, studies have found that 4.0–4.5 pounds of water are required to make 1 pound of milk. In gallons, about 4 gallons of water is required for just 1 gallon of milk. To think of it another way, 1/2 gallon of water is required for just 1/8 gallon of milk.

Why is this much water needed? Cows need water to live and produce milk. As such, about 95% of the water that is needed to make milk goes into the cow’s feed. Most of the remaining content is drank directly by cows, but some is also added to the milk that you drink.

boiling over of milk
Image Credit: Myriams-Fotos, Pixabay

How Many Gallons of Water Does It Take to Make a Gallon of Almond Milk?

When considering how much water is in milk, it’s important to look at vegan milk alternatives as well. After all, these alternatives have become increasingly popular. Just like cow milk, these milk alternatives require a lot of water for the production.

Almond milk is one of the most popular milk alternatives. Although many people believe almond milk is better for the environment than cow milk, it requires a lot more water to produce.

To grow just a single almond, 1.1 gallons of water is required. To make just one cup of almond milk, 92 almonds are needed. If you do the math, about 101.2 gallons of water are required to produce 1 cup of almond milk. You will want to add an additional 3–4 cups of water per serving because most almond milk brands only contain 2% almonds. The rest of the content is water.

Because there are 16 cups in a gallon, 1,620 gallons of water are needed to make one gallon of almond milk.

How Many Gallons of Water Does It Take to Make a Gallon of Oat Milk?

Another popular milk alternative is oat milk. Oat milk does not require as much water to produce as almond milk, but it needs more water than cow milk. Most oat milk requires six times less water than the almond alternative.

The type of oat that goes into the milk determines how much water is needed. Most oat milk is made from rolled oats, though. For 1/2 pound of oats, or 1 cup of oat milk, 145 gallons of water is needed. You will also have to add an additional 4–6 cups for the final product.

Divider 2Final Thoughts

As you can see, a lot of water is required to make one gallon of milk, regardless of what kind of milk you drink. That being said, almond milk requires the most amount of water, whereas cow milk generally requires the least amount. Oat milk falls somewhere in between.


Featured Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay

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