Why does my water taste bad?

If your tap water tastes bad it is likely from a contaminant. If you can narrow down what type of contaminant it is you will have an easier time finding out what the problem is.

If you already know how your water tastes bad then you might want to view a more specific taste:

Why does my water smell like rotten eggs?

Hydrogen sulfide is most often the cause of a bad ‘rotten egg’ taste or smell. This gas is naturally occurring in some cases, but can also be caused by plumbing issues.

  • Can occur naturally in well or ground water.
  • Produced by some bacteria that can live in your ground or well water.
  • Produced by bacteria or chemical reactions that occur inside of water heaters that are in the process of breaking down.
  • Can be released when drilling or fracking for oil. Oil or natural gas is called ‘sour’ if it contains lots of hydrogen sulfide.
  • From pollutants.

How to fix bad-tasting water

There are many methods to remove foul tastes from your water; some require a whole home system, while others are treatments that can fix a specific cause of metal in your water. First, you’ll want to test your water and consult an expert to see which water filtration system works best for your situation.

Reverse Osmosis

Works by pushing water through a membrane that stops many harmful contaminants. Reverse osmosis is quite effective at improving water quality and will remove many dissolved solids and other chemical contaminants. It works to remove most metals including copper, lead, magnesium, manganese, and iron. It should be noted that hydrogen sulfide is a gas and if it’s dissolved in the water supply it can pass through a reverse osmosis system.


Not my favourite form of water purification as it removes the most’ taste’ from the water; however it is the best at removing some contaminants. Distilled water is made by boiling water into steam; this leaves the contaminants and dissolved minerals behind. With proper usage, distillation will remove 100% of minerals from the water, however it will not remove things with a lower boiling point than water, such as chlorine (however, chlorine will naturally off-gas). This makes distillation a great option for removing metals. You can also add minerals back into your water after distillation to improve the tap water taste.

Activated Charcoal

Suppose you’re looking to improve the taste of your water while leaving behind some of the healthier minerals such as magnesium, potassium, sodium, and calcium. In that case, an activated charcoal filter might be right for you. While it will still leave behind some unwanted minerals, it can vastly reduce any that might cause health problems. For example, a properly maintained activated charcoal filter can remove many metals up to a 90% level. However it won’t be able to completely remove the metals, so if you have a dangerous metal such as lead in your water system you will want something more robust.

Water Softener

A water softener can remove small amounts of metal from your water, however if you are experiencing a large amount of metal you will want to use another method of water treatment or add an iron filter to your water softener.

Iron/Rust Filter

An iron filter is a replaceable cartridge that removes iron from your water supply.

Rust Removal

A rust remover is a treatment that can be done on your water softener. Follow the instructions of a rust remover like Rust Out. This will help in short term, but you should still try to find out what is causing rust in your system.

Flushing Your Pipes

This is especially useful to remove rust from your iron pipes in a home or pipe that hasn’t been used very often. It is the simplest solution, however it doesn’t fix the root cause of the problem. If your water tastes bitter or metallic after flushing the pipes you will need to address the root of the problem.

The Taste Series

Does your water taste a certain type of way? Find out why with our series of water taste articles.

Adam S

Adam S

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TryWater Club is a website dedicated to everything water.  Drinking, finding, exploring, and tasting.

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