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Why Does My Water Taste Bad Even Though It Looks Clear?

woman making gross reaction to drinking water

Water seems like a straightforward thing, right? Two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom combine to create the most essential element in the whole world. It fills oceans, rivers, ponds, lakes, and pools, making up a large percentage of every living creature’s body. Since it’s the most central substance to our survival, you would think we would all be experts in it, but water is a surprisingly complex liquid. This is primarily due to water’s unique properties. Water is nature’s universal solvent and wants to take a little of everything it touches. That means water that hasn’t been purified can have all kinds of dissolved contaminants.

So many things can be dissolved into or suspended in water, and they all affect taste. Water from a well will taste different than municipal (city) water, just as wells and cities differ. Everything it touches between the source and your glass will influence your water's flavor.

What is Making my Water Taste Bad?

Purified, filtered, soft water tastes incredible, but at the same time, it doesn’t taste like anything. This might seem like a paradox, but it’s true. Some types of water taste worse than others because of the elements in them. Cities add chemicals like chlorine to their water supplies to help kill any bacteria that might grow in water towers, pipes, tanks, or elsewhere the water needs to pass through to get to your home. Depending on how much chlorine your municipality adds, you will likely detect it first as a smell that influences your sense of taste, then as an aftertaste on its own. This chemical scent and taste can be more off-putting for some than others.

Many natural water sources can be acidic. An acidic pH changes many of the properties of your water, including its taste. Most consider acidic water (pH lower than 7) to taste somewhat sour instead of neutral. If your water tastes bitter, this could be caused by having alkaline water (pH above 7). While acidic water is more common for those who use well water, it could happen to just about anyone. Water acidity is measured in a standard water quality test. Water treatment professionals recommend having a standard water quality test done at least once per year because the environment your water is in contact with constantly changes. A CareClear® Acid Neutralizing Water Filter can help neutralize the acidic water in your home, helping remove the sour taste.

Water may be liquid from 33 °F to 211 °F, but that doesn’t mean metal can’t be in it. Iron is a tricky metal when it comes to water because it might be dissolved in your water (ferrous iron) or show up as little specks, giving your water a reddish/brown tinge (ferric iron). It’s easy to see iron floating in your water, but it can also dissolve and become invisible to the human eye. High levels of iron can cause your water to take on a metallic taste that affects not only the glass of water you want to drink but also the food you cook in your water. Luckily, both types of iron can be filtered out, but it is far from the only metal that might be throwing off your water's flavor.

Calcium and magnesium are two of the biggest culprits that cause hard water. These elements are almost everywhere in nature, so most water supplies touch it at some point. Since most households have hard water, don’t be surprised if one or both show up when your water is tested. A water softener can easily take care of calcium and magnesium, but there are still more elements to look out for.

Sulfur could be in your water as well. Sulfur is well known for having a powerful stinky smell reminiscent of boiled eggs that have gone bad. Sulfur often brings other unwanted guests to the party, as it loves to bond with other elements. A typical example is a gas called hydrogen sulfide. This compound is responsible for many rotten odors often found in well water. Getting rid of rotten smells caused by sulfur requires specialized air-injected water filtration. The WaterCare® Ion Pro® Air Sulfur Water Filter could solve this common problem perfectly. Inside the filter, a chamber of air oxidizes the gas, forcing it to form particles that can be easily removed, leaving you with water that smells as fresh as it should.

Except for non-dissolved iron, most of these water contaminants won’t affect the coloration or clarity of your water. As a result, many Americans are left with water that tastes bad, even when the water looks just fine. Bad smells often sour our perception of taste, making fighting odors in the water a part of helping enhance the taste.

How Do I Get My Water to Taste Better?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Some people use well water, and some use water from municipal sources, but almost everyone’s water is a little different. Different parts of the world deal with different possible contaminants, and some water sources might change from year to year without warning.

If you want water that tastes better, the first step is to get your water tested. This will help a professional water treatment expert identify, order, and install the right tailored water treatment system for your water. Most homes need water softeners; many will benefit from water filtration. So, call your local authorized WaterCare dealer today so they can test your water and help you obtain better tasting water soon!