How to make your tap water taste better
The UK enjoys some of the safest tap water in Europe. Still, many people dislike how theirs tastes and wish they could make it more pleasant. If you’re looking to drink more water, stay hydrated and enjoy the benefits of drinking 6 to 8 glasses a day then keep reading.
Where does tap water come from in the UK?
All UK tap water starts off as surface water or groundwater. Surface water is collected from rivers, lakes and reservoirs, while groundwater is extracted from aquifers underground.
Once the water has been collected, water companies use different processes to filter out contaminants. Small amounts of chlorine are then added to the water (less than one milligram per litre) to kill any bacteria.
Treated tap water is usually stored in covered reservoirs before it is pumped to your home. If there is a sudden increase in water usage where you live, water may be pumped from neighbouring areas to meet demand.
Water is transported to your home using a network of pipes. Your home will have a single pipe called a mains pipe that connects to a larger pipe on your street. This pipe will supply multiple homes and connect to a wider network of pipes stretching back to your local water treatment centre.
What affects the taste of your tap water?
The taste of your tap water depends on several factors. In the UK, tap water in the north of England tends to be ‘softer’ than tap water in the south as the geology, or types of rock, is different. Similarly, if your local water supply is mainly sourced from surface water, it’s less likely to contain minerals like calcium and magnesium.
In addition to where your water comes from, the journey it takes to your home can affect how it tastes too. During the water treatment process, water companies add very small amounts of chlorine to your water to make it safe. This chlorine is added in such small quantities that it is usually undetectable. But if you live very close to a water treatment plant, your water can taste more strongly of chlorine.
Water is a ‘universal solvent’ that dissolves a wide range of minerals and compounds. For this reason, the taste of tap water can vary a lot. Here are some of the most common issues homeowners have with their tap water.
Why does my tap water taste like metal?
Tap water can take on a metallic taste if it’s been in your plumbing system for a long time. If your tap water tastes metallic in the morning or early evening – when most people haven’t used their water supply for several hours – run your tap for a few minutes to flush out your system.
Why does my tap water taste like chlorine?
All public water supplies in the UK must be disinfected. The most common disinfectant is chlorine, which is why so many people report their tap water tasting of bleach.
Chlorine concentrations in your tap water vary throughout the year but are strictly regulated. Your tap water may taste more strongly of chlorine during peak times, if a local water main bursts or the temperature drops (cold water holds chlorine for longer).
Why is my tap water cloudy?
The most common cause for cloudy, white or grey tap water is air bubbles. You can remove air bubbles from your plumbing system by turning your stop tap on and off while running the closest cold water tap at full flow.
Why does my tap water taste different?
UK tap water is among the safest in the world. But if the taste or colour of your tap water suddenly changes, and you worry it’s no longer safe to drink, contact your local water supplier. You can find out who provides your household water and wastewater here.
How to make your tap water taste better
Now that you know a little more about why your tap water tastes the way it does, here are some quick and easy ways to make your tap water taste better.
Chlorine is a very unstable chemical. Pouring your tap water into a jug and leaving it in the fridge or direct sunlight will encourage the chlorine to break down.
Keep in mind that the chlorine in your drinking water is there for a reason: to kill bacteria. If you “pour and store” your tap water, replace the water every 24 hours to keep it sanitary.
Run your water
Does your tap water taste like metal? If so, then you could be tasting the slightly metallic taste that develops when tap water sits inside a water pipe for a long time.
Running your tap for a few seconds before pouring yourself a glass of water will flush out your system and prevent your drinking water from absorbing any metallic notes from your plumbing.
You can change the taste of your tap water using concentrated fruit juices, tea and coffee. If you’re on a health-kick, there are low-sugar, caffeine-free options. Add frozen berries, slices of lemon or herbs like mint to infuse flavour naturally.
Use a water filter
Water filters are great for removing contaminants. They work using a series of filters to purify your water.
Water filters typically work using two techniques: mechanical filtration and absorption. The first physically blocks impurities that are suspended in your tap water, and the second, which uses highly porous materials like activated carbon, captures chemicals to remove unwanted tastes and odours.
Check your fixtures and fittings
A chemical or metallic taste in hot drinks, especially tea, is unlikely to be caused by chlorine. Instead, appliances like dishwashers and washing machines are likely to be the cause.
If your drinking water is affected by an appliance, you can resolve the issue by installing a one-way check valve between the mains supply and the appliance hose. This will prevent the backflow of water and the release of ‘phenolic compounds’ into your tap water.