Bad Tasting, Smelly Drinking Water


There are many things that can give drinking water  bad taste and smelly odors.  It could be chemicals used to treat your drinking water, environmental contaminants or even concentrations of metal that have been cast off in old plumbing pipes.

Some of the culprits behind bad tasting, smelly drinking water could be:

  • Hydrogen Sulfide, which can produce a rotten egg smell;
  • Dissolved solids which cause a musty, earthy wood smell;
  • Chlorine used in the municipal water treatment process;
  • Metallic tastes and smells from mercury, lead, arsenic and iron seeping into the water supply.

How do I get rid of the rotten egg smell?

Water absorbs hydrogen sulfide as it passes through the ground. When you turn on your faucet, you actually vent the gas from your tap water, which emits that rotten egg smell.

Hydrogen sulfide can be treated with oxidation and filtration. Oxidation turns the gas into elemental sulfur which can then be removed via water filtration. Normally, an aeration system injects air into the water to oxidize the gas. The water then passes through a filter that removes the sulfur. The result is water free of the “rotten egg” smell.

What are Dissolved Solids in Drinking Water?

Dissolved solids, or Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), refer to any compounds left in the water after normal treatment and filtration.  TDS in drinking water originate from natural sources, sewage, urban run-off, industrial wastewater, chemicals used in the water treatment process, and plumbing pipes.

TDS can make your drinking water taste bitter, salty, or metallic and may have unpleasant odors.  It can interfere with the taste your food and beverages and make your water less thirst quenching.

We are all exposed to toxic minerals and chemicals found in the air and in our food on a daily basis. Water flushes these toxins out of our bodies.  The purer the water is, the better it is at collecting and cleansing these compounds from the body.

Many consumers want to purify their water for drinking, cooking and ice cubes. Kinetico  drinking water systems provide high quality, chemical-free water right at the faucet, treating only the water you use for drinking and food preparation.

I Smell and Taste Chlorine in my Drinking Water

Since the 1850s, chlorine has been used as a disinfectant to kill harmful bacteria in water or in the pipes that transport it, helping to eliminate a number of 19th century threats to public health. It is essential at the treatment plant and in the water distribution system, but it is no longer necessary once the water reaches your home.

Chlorine tastes and smells bad. It dries skin and hair, fades clothes (bleach is made of chlorine) and can dry out the rubber seals in appliances, shortening their lives.

Kinetico’s chlorine removal systems eliminate chlorine from your water. If you are concerned about chlorine, please contact us for a free in-home water analysis.

My Drinking Water has a Metallic Taste and Smell

Metals, like copper, iron, and lead found in tap water have their own unique smells and tastes. Usually copper and iron appear in low concentrations and are not harmful, although they can discolor your water. Rusty brown water is a result of high amounts of iron. Iron will stain and destroy everything from pipes to appliances and your favorite t-shirt; however, it is more of a taste concern than health concern.

Lead is a more serious concern, because it can be bad for your health.  Lead in drinking water usually comes from plumbing that has been connected with lead solder (outlawed in 1986) or from outdated water distribution lines. Many water pipelines in the U.S. were put in place before 1975, and aging plumbing pipes can contribute to drinking water contamination. New laws came into place to start 2014 that all but eliminate the use of lead in most water treatment solutions.

There are things you can do to reduce the risk of lead in your drinking water. Some sources suggest running your tap water for a couple of minutes before filling a glass to flush any accumulated lead from the water line (lead dissolves into standing water over time). This isn’t a foolproof solution, however, since there is no way of knowing whether all of the lead has been removed.  Also, lead can still dissolve into running water.

When preparing any drinks or meals, never use hot tap water. Hot water attracts more lead than cold water does. If you need hot water, heat cold tap water on the stove or in a microwave.

You can also invest in a carbon drinking water filter or reverse osmosis system that has been certified to protect your drinking water from lead. Kinetico advises you to check any manufacturer claims to see if they have been verified by the Water Quality Association or NSF International; because not all systems are certified for lead reduction.

The American Water Works Association has an informational brochure, called  “Living Lead Free,” that recommends having your water tested for lead to find out whether you should take action.  Our Kinetico water experts can have your water analyzed for free and help you decipher the results.


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6 thoughts on “Bad Tasting, Smelly Drinking Water

  • Pamela Wallace

    We have resided in our home for 17 years and here recently the water smells like rotten eggs.One of my biggest concerns is our laundry! Our clothes smell like rotten eggs after using all Gain product: detergent,scent boosters and fabric sheets! Our wash cloths and towels have now taken on a sewer scent. Please help us?

    • Chris Richter Post author

      Hi Pamela, I sent you an email with links to some of our fellow Kinetico dealers, please let me know if you had any trouble opening it.

      It’s almost always more efficient to deal with smells, odors, and staining before it happens. In addition to easier and more efficient, it’s also going to be less expensive.

      All the best,
      Chris

    • Chris Richter Post author

      Hi Irene, That’s a good question. It probably depends on the smell. Water should be tasteless, odorless and free of color. From there, everything else is now a matter of why it tastes bad, smells bad, or isn’t clear.

      Probably the most common smell that we have in water for municipal sources is chlorine and that absolutely is not healthy. Other smells, say iron or sulfur, aren’t necessarily unhealthy in low concentrations, but they’ll destroy dishwashers, washing machines, and hot water heaters.

      You can always free feel to call our office, 262.549.7733. We’re glad to test your water at no charge or, if you’re out of our service area, get you in good hands with the appropriate Kinetico experts in your area.

      All the best,
      Chris

    • Chris Richter Post author

      Hi John, thanks for your note. Feel free to give us a call or shoot me your zip code and I can get you connected with someone who address that. Chlorine, or its nasty cousin chloramine, is pretty aggressive. For your bathroom faucets, many of those have the aeration head which will at least help. Either way, there’s nothing good about chlorine after it’s in the home. Thanks, Chris