Have you ever had water straight out of a cool mountain spring? Boy, there's nothing more refreshing!

Wouldn't it be nice if tap water tasted that good?


It never does. In fact, sometimes it tastes downright nasty.

Why does tap water have such an awful taste sometimes, anyway? And what can you do about it?

Let's find out.

Bad tastes and smells in the water can have a number of different causes. It could be the plumbing or it could be the chemicals used to treat the water. Or it might be contaminants that got into the water supply.

Do any of these complaints sound familiar?

My water smells like chlorine.

If your water smells like chlorine, I can almost guarantee that you're on city water. Municipal water supplies always treat the water with chlorine or chloramine to kill bacteria.

It's great that the water is disinfected, but it means your water comes out smelling like bleach.

My water tastes like metal.

Metals like iron, lead, arsenic, and mercury can leach into your water and make it taste bad. Trace amounts of most metals won't hurt you. But even a small amount of lead is dangerous to anybody's health.

My water smells like fish.

Ocean water smelling like fish is one thing. But fishy drinking water?

No thanks!

A fishy odor probably means that there's some kind of organic material in the water source. Most of the time, there's no harm done. But it sure doesn't smell good!

My water has a moldy taste.

Sometimes water can have a moldy or musty taste, caused by algal bloom.

This happens in the summer, when warmth and sunshine make algae grow on the surface of reservoirs and lakes. The taste gets into the water and can linger even after going through the water treatment plant.

When the weather gets cooler, the moldy taste will fade away. In the meantime, you're stuck with awful tasting water.

My water smells like a wet dog.

Oh, yuck! Is there anything worse?

What in the world causes this?

It could one of several things. Most often this horrible odor comes from hot water pipes or from bacteria in a private well. Another possible cause is water treatment chemicals.

My water has a salty taste.

No, your water isn't supposed to taste salty. 

If it does, it could mean that chloride or sulfate from irrigation drainage or industrial waste has gotten into the water.

Near the coast, seawater sometimes  gets into the local supply and gives it a salty taste.

Or, depending on where you live, there might be naturally occurring salts in the soil or rocks that gets into the groundwater.

My water smells like rotten eggs.

Sulfide gas in water causes that nasty "rotten egg" smell. It might be caused by chemical reactions with the soil or rock, or by the decay of organic materials. You normally only get this with well water.

What can I do about my bad tasting water?

If your water has an "off" taste or smell, the first thing you should do is try to identify the cause.

You can have your water tested by a professional or get a home water test kit if you want to know the specific contaminants that are causing the problem.

Of course, you don't have to have your water tested to know that it tastes bad. You could just go straight to the solution and get yourself a high quality water filter like the Big Berkey.

A good filter is going to give you great tasting and odor-free water.

And that's not all.

You'll have peace of mind knowing that you're not ingesting toxins every time you take a drink of water.

You don't have to put up with bad tasting water any longer. And you don't have to hike to a mountain stream to find good water.

Get yourself a water filter and start enjoying clean refreshing water right at home!

Last Updated on April 7, 2022

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