January 11

Why Does Water Have a Taste?

The American Ground Water Trust newsletter reports in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s mineral water spas were popular for the affluent.  Part of the attraction was the taste of the water and the natural carbonation of the springs.  Pure water has no taste.  Water obtains tastes from the substances it comes into contact with during its travel through the hydrologic cycle.  These substances can be rocks, minerals, organic (plant and animal) debris, anthropogenic (human-made) materials and waste products, air-borne particles (for snow and rain) and other sources of water that join and mix in an aquifer zone.

Common water tastes and their sources:

  • Rotten eggs- Hydrogen sulfide gas
  • Metallic or Bitter- Dissolved metals (iron, manganese, copper, zinc, lead)
  • Salty- Chloride or general high total dissolved solids
  • Septic, musty, earthly- Bacteria
  • Bleach- Chlorine
  • Bitter- Tannins


Arsenic in well water

Water is a natural and efficient solvent and will accept most compounds into solution.  It takes time for water to dissolve a substance.  The longer a water droplet remains in the ground the more “flavors” it is likely to contain and the stronger the taste may become.

Treatment with granular activated carbon or reverse osmosis are effective methods to remove objectionable tastes and odors from a drinking water supply.  The next time you taste a glass of water consider it a signature of the aquifer.  In most cases, it has a unique and pleasant “flavor”.

Well Guardian Corp tests water regularly to help ensure your water is safe to drink and has a pleasant flavor.  We can refer you to water treatment professionals to address any problems you may have.


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