The taste of our drinking water is often the first place where we start to notice a potential problem. When you notice a change, it’s time to look into it and see what can be done. Whether you decide to install an under sink water filter or take more drastic steps, there are ways to improve the taste of your water.
There are many reasons why your tap water tastes off, and identifying the “flavor” can help you pin down the issue.
If you’re getting a metallic taste, you are likely dealing with rust in the pipes. You should do a little investigating of your plumbing and see if you can spot any corrosion, and do some pipe replacement where necessary. Rusted pipes can lead to leaks so don’t just ignore it.
A bleach taste (like pool water) is a result of a high amount of chlorine in the water, which is something you won’t have any control over as it is added at your local water treatment plant to purify the water. Though declared “safe,” many people dislike the taste and simply would prefer not to drink chlorine.
Are you getting a musty or swampy taste? That can mean some organic form of contamination, and you might want to contact your water utility about it. This isn’t something that would be introduced within your home and could indicate a problem somewhere else in the system. Not necessarily something dangerous though. It could just be a small algae bloom (spring can be bad for this), creating a harmless taste in the water that lingers after processing.
It’s common to get this taste in municipal water, and then have the chlorine flavor over the next few days as they adjust their purification process.
A nasty smell or taste like rotten eggs is another unpleasant possibility. It comes from hydrogen sulfide, and it is another side-effect of organic contamination like our last point. Considered harmless, it’s still a little undesirable.
What Can You Do?
As mentioned in a few cases above, there may be a way to fix the problem at the source (like replacing a rusted pipe), but if that is not an option, you’ll need to treat the water at the end-point before you use it.
The best way to improve the taste and quality of your water is with a filter. Simple jug filters with a carbon cartridge will help reduce rust or chlorine, but other contaminants may require a better system. You can try an under sink water filtration unit, or a larger whole-house system to clean up your water.
Organic or biological contaminants can be neutralized with a UV light system, or you can go with a broader ionizer to remove particles from your water. Reverse osmosis will improve your water no matter what the problem is, though these systems are also the most expensive.
One important point to remember is that not all toxins or contaminants have a taste. You can easily be drinking water that is high in lead or arsenic and get no indication whatsoever from the flavor. If you are worried about the quality of your water, have it tested periodically. That’s the best way to judge its contents.