In its pristine state, water is colorless, tasteless and odorless. In fact, water that smells or tastes funny is the primary reason people turn to bottled water, which is expensive for you and harmful for the environment—millions of barrels of oil are used each year to produce and transport it and billions of plastic bottles are added to our landfills. So, if your water tastes or smells strange, you owe it to yourself to find out why.
- Earthy or musty taste and odor:These types of complaints are generally the result of compounds released due to decayed vegetation and are typically associated with different forms of algae. They are most prevalent in supplies that use surface water as their supply. While not toxic, they are nonetheless unpleasant and can be offensive at very low concentrations.
- “Rotten egg” smell:Another common source of smelly water is hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless corrosive gas that has the characteristic odor of rotten eggs. It is most commonly found in groundwater supplies and often is noticed coming from hot water tanks. It can occur naturally from deep in the ground or can be produced by sulfate-reducing bacteria. It can affect the taste of food and beverages, making them unpalatable. If present in high enough concentrations, it can leave an unpleasant odor on hair and clothing. It can also accelerate corrosion of metal parts in appliances. Because it is a gas, testing for it usually has to be performed onsite.
- Metallic taste:As the name implies, a metallic taste to your water indicates the presence of metals such as iron, copper, manganese or zinc. Iron and manganese are often naturally occurring and are predominantly found in groundwater. Copper and zinc can come from an aging water distribution system or the corrosion of copper plumbing and brass fittings.