You’re thirsty, so you grab a glass and fill it up with tap water, gulping it down quickly. Yuck! It tastes like metal. Why does your water taste like metal?!
If this has happened to you, you’re probably on the internet right now to figure out why your tap water tastes like metal and what to do about it. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about the metallic taste in your tap water.
What Causes a Metallic Taste in Water?
You can detect the presence of toxins on the basis of odor, taste, and clarity of water. Metallic taste in water is commonly associated with the presence of man-made contaminants, some highly toxic, but these are not the only causes. Here are a few possible reasons why your tap water tastes metallic.
Traces of metal
Traces of metals may be present in your tap water if it has a noticeable metallic taste.
Reasons these metals are present in your tap water
Metals can infiltrate your water in a variety of ways, leading to metallic tasting water. I’ve listed the most common ones below.
Municipal water supply
The public water system adds chemicals to disinfect water for safe drinking. These chemicals and minerals, such as iron, can occasionally react with the pipes or plumbing fixtures in your home. Another reason can be the old water supply infrastructure of your city or area, where metals can seep into your city water as it travels from the treatment plant to your home.
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 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.
Low pH or soft water
Another reason for a metallic taste in your water is the pH level, which can indicate acidic water. The neutral value, neither acidic nor alkaline, for pH, is 7. When the pH level of water falls below 6.5, it is classified as soft. Water with low pH levels contains fewer minerals and is often described as tasting odd or sour, a taste which to some people resembles metal. It can also indicate the presence of metals, such as iron, lead, and copper.
How Do You Check for Metals in Water?
The EPA recommends testing for “iron, manganese, hardness and corrosion, and every three years.” You can get water professionally tested by a laboratory, as well as at home using a metal testing kit.
Is It OK to Drink Water that Tastes Like Metal?
Often, the metallic taste is not harmful to human health. While chlorine added to the water supply is generally not harmful, some individuals may be more sensitive to its taste and smell. If you detect a metallic taste in your water, it’s typically not a cause for concern regarding your health.
The taste usually fades with time, as do the annoying particles that cause it. Some minerals that cause a metallic taste, on the other hand, can be harmful if consumed frequently, such as lead and copper.
Problems and potential health risks of metallic tasting water
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.
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 also results 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 discolor your skin and 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.
People can experience lead poisoning if the water in their house is exposed to lead via galvanized pipes. It 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.
High zinc intake has been linked to stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Zinc levels beyond normal range may indicate pipe and fixture corrosion.
Excessive zinc intake can cause poisoning, including “low blood pressure, urine retention, jaundice, seizures, joint pain, fever, coughing,” and a noticeable taste of metal.
The Minnesota Department of Health states that “eating or drinking too much copper can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, liver damage, and kidney disease.”
A specialist from the Texas A&M University system has highlighted the side effects of copper intake in adults and infants.
They reported that elevated copper levels for 14 days or longer can cause permanent kidney and liver damage in infants and digestive problems in adults.
Too much 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.
How Do I Get Rid of the Metallic Taste in Water?
Let the tap water run
Running the tap for several minutes will resolve bitter and metallic tastes and odors. If the problem persists, you should check the other methods discussed below.
Have your pipes checked
As discussed above, old rusty pipes are a major cause of metal taste in water. If you have brownish-colored water or a strong taste of metal, it is high time that you invest in repairing or replacing your plumbing system.
Activated carbon water filter
Activated carbon (AC) filters are the most 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.
Reverse osmosis (RO) water filter
A good RO water filter will eliminate the metallic taste from your water by removing trace metals. You can opt for any RO water filter, be it countertop filters or faucet water filters.
If you have an RO system and still notice a metal taste, this could be a sign that your RO water is not properly balanced (low pH). You can resolve this problem by upgrading your RO filter to an ionized water filter system.
Consult your water supplier
If you have checked your property for possible corrosion or leakage and already use a water filter, the problem is most likely with your city water supplies. You can contact them to have the levels in their water treatment plant checked.
I doubt you want to taste metal in your water, even if the cause is harmless, and there’s no guarantee it’s harmless.
To enjoy safe and flavorless, clean water, I recommend that you identify the cause and install a water filtration system in your home.
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