5 Reasons Your Water Tastes Like Metal

Reviewed by: James Layton
Updated on:
January 16, 2024

Key Takeaways

What Causes a Metallic Taste in Water?

A metallic taste in water is commonly associated with the presence of human-made contaminants, some highly toxic, but these are not the only causes.

Metals can infiltrate your water in a variety of ways, some dangerous, some not.

Here are a few possible reasons your tap water tastes metallic.

1. Presence of metals

This may seem obvious, but your water may taste metallic due to the presence of metals, including iron, manganese, zinc, copper, or lead.

If you’re on well water, the number of potential heavy metals increases to include arsenic, chromium, cadmium, and selenium.

Heavy metals can lead to dangerous health risks. According to the EPA, consuming heavy metals in large amounts can lead to “acute and chronic toxicity, liver, kidney, and intestinal damage, anemia, and cancer.”

See the best whole-house filters for removing lead to protect your family from these dangers.

Of course, the metal taste may come from your pipes. For example, many homes have copper pipes. In the morning when you first run your tap after the water has sat all night, you may taste copper.

The same is true for lead, which is much more serious.

However, if you run the taps for 30 seconds, the taste will go away, as will the metal. This may be a solution for anyone with copper or iron pipes who doesn’t want to invest in a filtration system.

This is not a solution to lead in water. If you suspect you have lead, stop drinking it immediately.

2. Minerals

However, magnesium, and potentially some other minerals (not including calcium) in water may produce an unappealing taste that some people may perceive as metallic.

Maybe you google magnesium in water and find pages about hard water, which is magnesium and calcium together, and think hard water tastes metallic.

But this is not so.

Magnesium may taste metallic to some people, but calcium does not. And because the majority of the hardness in hard water comes from calcium, it’s unlikely and untrue that the harder your water is, the more likely it is to taste metallic.

That being said, if you have your water tested and find you have hard water (like 86% of people in the US), consider adding a water softener to your home to protect it from the unappealing side effects of hard water, such as scale buildup and reduced detergent performance.

Here’s our list of the best water softeners.

3. Old pipes

People who live in old houses are more likely to face this problem than those who live in new houses.

Houses built a century ago were typically built with iron pipes, copper pipes, or galvanized steel pipes, which had a maximum lifespan of 80–100 years.

A layer of zinc was applied to these steel pipes to extend their lifespan. Impurities such as lead and iron are often present in zinc.

After decades of use, the water that passes through a home’s pipe system can corrode the galvanized pipe wall. The zinc interior separates into small deposits of iron and other minerals, which settle in the water, potentially causing a metallic taste and a reddish-brown color. 

Also, if your house was built during the early- to mid-1900s, it may have lead solder pipework, which can also give your water a metallic taste. These pipes were banned with the signing of 1986 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act.

If you suspect lead may be causing a metallic water taste, it is crucial that you consult a water expert immediately and switch to an alternative drinking water source in the meantime. 

4. Low pH

Another reason for a metallic taste in your water is the pH level, which can indicate acidic water. Now, acidic water alone does not taste metallic. However, acidic water can degrade the metal in your pipes, causing the metals to dissolve in your water and lead to a metallic taste.

This is particularly dangerous if your home is old. Old homes (built before 1986) are more likely to have lead pipes than newer homes. If you also have acidic water, this can be a lethal combination.

One solution is to add a whole-house alkaline filter, but you should also have your pipes assessed.

5. Health issues

The metallic taste you’re perceiving may not be coming from your water at all, but rather from within. In fact, according to the Cleveland Clinic, a few health conditions may result in a metallic taste in the mouth.

These include liver and kidney failure, diabetes, cancer, or poor oral hygiene. Certain medications, as well, might lead to a metallic taste, and so can pregnancy, infection, or allergies.

If you’ve tested your water and found no explanation, evaluate your health and wellness to narrow down the cause. Consider discussing it with a health-care professional.

How to Check for Metals in Water

The EPA recommends testing your water at least every three years, and if you’re on well water, you should have it tested annually.

You can get water professionally tested by a laboratory, as well as at home using a testing kit.

Just keep in mind that DIY test kits tend to be less accurate and test for a smaller number of impurities. Still, if you want to go that route, we’ve rated the best DIY water testing kits.

Is It Okay to Drink Water That Tastes Like Metal?

It depends on the cause.

Often, the cause of a metallic taste is not harmful to human health.

However, some metals that cause a metallic taste, such as lead and copper, can be harmful.

Numerous health risks are associated with the presence of these metals in your drinking water. These health issues depend on which particular trace metals are affecting your water quality and what circumstances are causing the metallic water taste.

So, let’s explore some of these metals and their potential health implications.


The Illinois Department of Public Health states that “iron is not hazardous to health, but it is considered a secondary or aesthetic contaminant.

Iron is actually good for your health and your water may provide 5% of the iron your body needs every day.

But it does have a few unwanted effects when present in water. 

Water that contains dissolved ferrous iron may taste metallic. This iron-rich water may also result in an unpleasant color and flavor in food and beverages. When this type of iron-rich water is used as cooking water, vegetables may become “dark” and “unappealing.”

Rust, caused by iron, in your shower and drinking water can leave brown stains in your sinks. Clothes that have been washed in water containing high levels of iron or rust can appear stained and feel stiff, and your dishwasher may leave a residue on plates or cutlery.


It’s unlikely you can taste lead in your water. That’s what makes it so dangerous. By the time you know your water is poisoned with lead, the damage is done.

However, some combinations of conditions can change the taste of water and signal it’s time to have your water tested. Lead contamination is a serious situation that needs immediate attention.

People can experience lead poisoning if the water in their house is exposed to lead via galvanized pipes.

Lead poisoning causes a variety of symptoms and complications, including “fatigue, headaches, insomnia, constipation, nausea, abdominal pain, reduced cognitive abilities, and reproductive issues.”

Lead poisoning is especially dangerous to children. It can harm the development of the brain and have long-term cognitive consequences.

If a parent believes their child has been poisoned by lead, they should seek medical attention immediately.


Zinc levels beyond normal range may cause a noticeable taste of metal, as well as pipe and fixture corrosion.

High zinc intake has been linked to stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Excessive zinc intake can cause zinc poisoning, including “low blood pressure, urine retention, jaundice, seizures, joint pain, fever, coughing.”


While copper is an essential human nutrient, too much of it can be dangerous.

A Texas A&M University report states that exposure to elevated copper levels (more than 1.3 mg/L) for 14 days or longer can cause permanent kidney and liver damage in infants and digestive problems in adults. 

Here’s an interesting tidbit you may enjoy if you’re the curious type. You may be wondering why pipes are made of copper if copper is dangerous. Well, copper is pretty corrosion resistant, so it’s less likely to infiltrate the water supply in dangerous numbers.

Furthermore, as annoying as extremely hard water can be, hard water scale buildup can actually coat the inside of copper pipes, further protecting them from corrosion from such things as acidic water or the passage of time.

Low pH

Too much acidic water, that is, water with a low pH level, can cause tooth erosion.

Furthermore, the more acidic the water is, the more harmful contaminants it is likely to contain, Healthline informs. 

Acidic water can corrode pipes, leaching contaminants such as copper and lead. Experts are less decided on the effects of corrosion and plastic (PVC, or polyvinyl chloride) pipes.

You might be interested in a water treatment system that increases the pH of your water. Here’s a list of the best whole-house alkaline water filters, some of which can help with acidic water to varying degrees.

How Do I Get Rid of the Metallic Taste in Water?

Have your pipes checked.

As discussed above, old lead pipes are a major cause of metal taste in water.

If you have brownish-colored water or a strong taste of metal, it may be time to invest in repairing or replacing your plumbing system.

Iron and copper pipes are extremely common and not necessarily cause for concern unless they’re very old.

Install a reverse osmosis (RO) water filter.

A good RO water filter will eliminate the metallic taste from your water by removing trace metals and other impurities.

The most common reverse osmosis systems are installed at the point of use (for example, under your kitchen sink) with a dedicated RO faucet for accessing clean drinking water.

We reviewed the leading reverse osmosis systems and curated a list of the best reverse osmosis systems for well water.

Of course, perhaps you’re on city water. Take a look at the best whole-house reverse osmosis systems.

Or you might prefer a tankless system, which is usually cheaper and more low-key than a whole house system. Here are the best tankless reverse osmosis systems.

Install an activated carbon water filter.

Activated carbon (AC) filters are effective at removing organic contaminants from water (often responsible for taste, odor, and color problems).

Carbon particles attract and remove contaminants, such as dissolved substances like chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, and heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and copper.

Final Thoughts

If you taste metal in your water, the cause could be harmless, but there’s no guarantee. 

To enjoy safe and flavorless, clean water, you should identify the cause and install a water filtration system in your home. 

For a list of high-performing water filters, see our list of the best water filters for every situation.

If you’re keen on expanding your knowledge about water contamination, treatment, and other relevant subjects, we offer a diverse range of articles that explore various options and their functionalities.

Our aim is to provide valuable insights and broaden your understanding of these topics. Below are a few articles you can explore to further your knowledge:

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