Why does my water taste like metal?

A metallic taste in drinking water can be caused by the presence of one or a combination of many different metals. While the discerning palate may be able to taste the difference between them, it is essential to get your water professionally tested to ensure that it is safe to drink; this is especially true if something tastes unusual.

Note: While an unpleasant metallic taste is something that you should always have assessed for health reasons, there are naturally occurring metallic-tasting waters that are highly sought after. For example, this ROI Mineral Water is one of the most expensive waters in the world and is incredibly rich in magnesium. It has a TDS of 7481 mg/l, which is 20-50X the typical TDS of tap water.

Water can be wonderfully complex, with different springs or wells having completely contrasting tastes. We explore these different tastes in our taste series.

What causes metallic tasting water?

  • High levels of iron in your water is the most common cause of a metallic taste in your water supply. However, having iron in your tap water may actually be caused by a few different sources. You may have iron naturally occurring in your drinking water (ex: well water with high iron), but it is also likely that you may have acidic water that is much more likely to leech metals from your copper, iron, or lead pipes.
  • Presence of other metals. While each metal has a slightly different taste, it is easy to confuse them. You may have manganese, magnesium, lead, zinc, or copper. Depending on the metal involved, you may need to filter your water before it is safe for consumption. It would help if you got your pipes checked to ensure they are not lead, although lead will have a slightly sweeter taste than other metals.
  • A low pH level. Low pH levels can make water taste metallic on its own, but because the water is more acidic, it is much more likely to leech metals off of any pipes that it goes through.
  • Older pipes. Brass, copper, or galvanized steel pipes can slowly degrade over time, allowing minerals and metals to seep into your water. This can happen in the pipes within your home, or if your city has an aging infrastructure, it can occur before it reaches your home. I find older high-rise apartment buildings to be the worst culprit of this as the water has much longer to marinate in old iron or copper pipes.
  • Brown or red water. This is likely caused by your pipes having a leak or that they have become polluted with rust. While small amounts of rust aren’t specifically harmful to your health, it is something you would want dealt with.

Sometimes a metallic taste in water can be caused by external effects

It’s not just the metal in the water that can cause a metallic taste. A metallic taste in the mouth can be a symptom or side effect from many things.

  • Injury. You’ve bitten your cheek or caused a minor injury in your mouth.
  • Covid-19. Some individuals who experience loss of taste from Covid-19 have also reported having a metallic or bloody taste in their mouth.
  • Medication. Many medications report a side effect of tasting blood. these include antibiotics, antidepressants, blood pressure, and diabetes medication. If you’ve recently started taking medication, consult your doctor as it could be a common side effect.
  • Pine Nuts. It’s rare, however, some individuals have reported a bitter metallic taste in their mouth the day after consuming pine nuts. It can last as long as 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Pregnancy. With all of the changes a body goes through during pregnancy, it’s not surprising that a bloody or bitter metallic taste in the mouth is one of them.
  • Neurological Conditions. A metallic taste in the mouth could be the beginning symptom of a neurological disease such as Bell’s Palsy.

Is it OK to drink water that tastes like metal?

Typically, if your water has a slight metallic taste, it is acceptable to drink. However, you should get the water checked out by having it professionally tested if you have any concerns about the safety of the water. This is especially true if you have lead pipes in your home or neighbourhood.

What are the Potential Health Risks of Metallic Tasting Water?

Your body needs minute quantities of trace metals to function, so certain small amounts of metals in your water are ok and can be good for you. However, if your tap water tastes noticeably metallic, it is likely that the concentrations are higher than you would like. The body requires Iron, Copper, Manganese, Magnesium, and Zinc in small amounts, but large quantities (like those obtained from consistently drinking water with a metal taste) may be harmful.

How to Fix Metallic Tasting Tap Water

In some cases, a metallic taste may be something you want to remove from your water for taste reasons or because leaving high concentrations of minerals in your water may damage your pipes over time. It is best to have your water tested to find out what you are dealing with, but once that is done, you can move forward with the best water filtration system for your needs.

Methods to Remove Metals From Water

There are many methods of removing metals 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 pollutants. In addition, it works to remove most metals, including copper, lead, magnesium, manganese, and iron.


Not my favourite form of water purification as it removes the most’ taste’ from the water; however, it is the safest. Distilled water is made by boiling water into steam; this leaves the contaminants 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, the chlorine will naturally off-gas). This makes distillation an excellent option for removing metals.

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 remove the metals completely, 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 water treatment method 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 the 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 often. It is the simplest solution. However, it doesn’t fix the root cause of the problem. If your water tastes 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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