Bottled Water Tastes Weird? Here Are 6 Possible Causes

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Noticed that your bottled water has a sweet, bitter, musty, metallic, plastic taste? Or do you think your bottled water has a bleach-like or rotten egg odor?

Whether you’ve always thought bottled water tastes weird or suddenly noticed a strange taste in your water, we’ve shared all the common reasons why your bottled water might have an off-putting flavor in this guide.

πŸ“Œ Key Takeaways:

  • Some of the reasons why your bottled water tastes weird include contamination from the plastic water bottle, dissolved minerals and impurities, the water disinfection process, hydrogen sulfide, and poor water storage.
  • If your water tastes weird suddenly or the taste is very unpleasant, it’s best to throw out the water to stay on the safe side.
  • You can avoid poor-tasting bottled water by switching brands, buying your water in glass bottles or aluminum cans, avoiding chlorinated water, and filtering your water at home.

πŸ“ Factors Affecting Bottled Water Taste

Before we answer the question, “Why does my bottled water taste weird?” let’s look at some of the factors that generally affect the taste of bottled drinking water.

  • Natural impurities. Most water sources contain natural impurities from rocks and soils. These include calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, hydrogen sulfide, and sodium. They may have a positive or negative effect on taste, depending on the types and concentrations of impurities present.
  • Pollutants and contaminants. Just like tap water, bottled water is also likely to contain certain pollutants that have contaminated the water source. These include pesticides, PFAS, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and pharmaceuticals. Many of these impurities have no taste, but some may give water a chemical or metallic taste.
  • Additives or flavorings. Some bottled water brands add flavorings and additives to their waters to enhance their taste. These may give water a sweet or sour taste, depending on the flavorings used.
  • Water storage method. The method of water storage may also affect the taste of bottled water. For instance, water stored in a plastic water bottle is more likely to taste like plastic compared to water sold in glass bottles or aluminum cans.
  • Water treatment processes. Finally, the water treatment process affects how bottled water tastes. If a water source is treated with distillation or reverse osmosis, it may have a “flat” taste due to a lack of minerals. Some manufacturers add minerals and electrolytes to water to give additional pleasant flavors.
Bottled water tastes weird

πŸ₯΄ Why Does My Bottled Water Taste Weird? 6 Likely Causes

We’ve shared the most common causes of bottled water with a strange taste below.

1) Bitter Or Metallic Taste: Minerals & Impurities

If your bottled water has a bitter or metallic taste, it’s most likely due to the presence of minerals and impurities in the water.

For instance, many bottled water products are sourced from natural springs or aquifers. These groundwater sources have a high mineral content and are more likely to contain iron and zinc, which may give water a metallic taste.

If water has a very metallic taste, it’s possible that it has been contaminated with metals during the manufacturing process. However, this is a less likely cause.

2) Plastic Taste: Plastic Bottles

Bottled water that tastes like plastic has an obvious cause: the plastic bottle that it’s housed in.

Certain types of bottled water are more likely to leach chemicals that contribute to a plastic taste than others.

For example, bottled distilled water or reverse osmosis water will likely contain very few (if any) impurities. This water is “hungry”, meaning it’s more likely to grab onto impurities from its surroundings than water with a higher total dissolved solids (TDS) concentration which already contains plenty of impurities.

You might also notice that your water tastes like plastic if you’ve left the bottle in a hot car or in direct sunlight for a few hours. Heat and sunlight speed up the degradation of single-use plastics, meaning that your water is more likely to contain BPA and other harmful substances from the bottle, which may affect its taste.

How people get exposed to BPA

3) Sweet Taste: Minerals or Added Flavorings

If your bottled water has a subtly sweet taste, it’s likely due to the minerals.

Many bottled mineral water brands source their water from an underground location, meaning that the water is naturally much higher in minerals than normal tap water. Some brands also add minerals to their water to improve its taste.

If the sweet taste is very strong, you might have a flavored water that contains taste-enhancing additives. Check the label to see if your water is flavored – sometimes it’s not obvious at first glance.

4) Rotten Egg Taste/Smell: Hydrogen Sulfide

A rotten egg taste or smell in any drinking water supply is unpleasant, and there’s usually one culprit: hydrogen sulfide.

Hydrogen sulfide is often present naturally in the ground, so bottled waters that come from groundwater sources may be contaminated with this impurity.

Many brands filter their water so it doesn’t taste bad, but traces of hydrogen sulfide may remain. If you have sensitive taste buds, you might be able to detect even tiny traces of this compound.

5) Bleach-Like Taste/Smell: Chlorination

A bleach-like taste or smell in your bottled drinking water is most likely caused by the way that the water has been disinfected.

If the water has been disinfected with chlorine bleach, chloramine, or a similar chemical, you may notice a mild swimming pool-like taste and smell.

Tap water is also chlorinated, but you might not notice the taste or smell as strongly as in bottled water, which is stored in airtight containers for a long time, giving chlorine no opportunity to dissipate.

Continue Reading: Unopened Bottled Water Smells Bad: What to Know

Taking Chlorine and pH measurement of bottled water

6) Musty Taste: “Old” Water Or Poor Storage

A musty taste in your bottled water has two common causes: drinking the water beyond its use-by date and storing the water incorrectly.

The risk of microorganisms in your bottled water is very low. However, you may end up drinking contaminated water if you store your bottle in a warm or damp environment, which encourages pathogens to grow.

Bottled water that’s past its shelf life might not be contaminated, but it might simply have lost its pleasant flavor and has developed an “old” taste. You may also think that the water tastes like plastic due to the degradation of the plastic bottle over time.

⚠️ Is It Safe To Drink Weird-Tasting Bottled Water?

The safety of drinking bottled water with a weird taste depends on the taste.

If your bottled water taste is mild and not too concerning, such as a sweet or metallic taste due to dissolved minerals and impurities, it’s safe to drink.

If you notice a sudden or very unpleasant taste, especially if water tastes “off” or you detect a plastic taste, it’s best to be on the safe side and throw out the water.

Check the date label on the bottle or assess your method of storage. If the bottle has been sat in your car on a hot day, or you’ve stored it in a warm, moist cupboard in your kitchen, this could have contributed to the strange taste.

πŸ“– How To Choose Quality Bottled Water

We can say one thing for certain: not all bottled waters are equal when it comes to quality.

Some bottled water products are simply bottled tap water. Others are tap water that has been treated in a water filtration system, and others are natural water sources that have been relatively (or completely) untouched before bottling.

To choose a quality bottled water product, follow these steps:

  1. Read the bottle label and understand the water source. The water source isn’t the marker of a quality bottled water product. However, you’re more likely to enjoy naturally high-quality water without artificial enhancements or filtration if you buy natural spring water, or water from another groundwater source, than if the water is taken from a municipal supplier.
  2. Assess the purification methods. A bottled water brand should outline how its water is treated, including the purification processes used. We recommend looking at bottled waters that have been treated with methods that don’t add anything back into the water. For example, we prefer bottled water that has been purified with UV light, rather than disinfected with chlorine.
  3. Recognize signs of proper storage and freshness. Poor-tasting bottled water due to poor storage isn’t always your fault. Sometimes, water may be stored or transported incorrectly before reaching the shelves. Before you open a bottle, check that it’s still in date, and inspect the bottle for cracks, color fading on the label or lid, and other signs of damage. If something doesn’t look right, don’t drink the water.
Mountain Valley Spring Water minerals on label

🚫 How To Avoid Weird-Tasting Bottled Water

Want to enjoy the taste of your bottled water at all times? Here’s how to avoid a weird or unpleasant taste in water from a plastic bottle.

Buy Bottled Water In Glass Bottles

First, if the weird taste in your water is coming from the plastic bottle it’s housed in, try switching to glass bottles.

A few bottled water brands sell their waters in glass bottles, so you don’t have to worry about unusual tastes – or health risks, for that matter – associated with drinking water from a plastic bottle.

Water in glass bottles is up to twice as expensive as water in plastic bottles. If you want a plastic alternative that’s a little cheaper, look at water in aluminum cans.

Switch Brands

Some bottled water brands may use spring water or well water that contains naturally present minerals and impurities, like sulfur and iron, which give the water a weird taste.

Some people may enjoy the taste of these natural minerals, but if you don’t, switch brands and see if you prefer the taste of another bottled water. If you’re a water snob like us, you’ll probably be able to notice subtle differences between different bottled waters, and you’ll find one that, in your opinion, has a more pleasant, refreshing taste.

Getting bottled water from shelf

Avoid Chlorinated Water

We mentioned that some bottled water products are chlorinated, like tap water, which can give them a chemical aftertaste and a mild swimming pool odor.

If you hate the taste of chlorinated water, avoid bottled water that has been disinfected with chemicals. Many bottled water brands don’t need to disinfect their water at all, while some use chemical-free methods like UV purification, which won’t affect the taste of the water.

You can find out how a water product is treated by checking the manufacturer’s website. Contact customer support if you can’t see the information you’re after.

Don’t Drink Out-Of-Date Water

Since an “off” taste in your bottled water might be down to the water having expired, make sure you don’t drink water that has been stored beyond its expiration date.

This is surprisingly easy to do if you have a huge stash of water and don’t rotate your stock according to their date labels. Most bottled waters have a shelf life of around two years, and it’s best to stick to these guidelines even if you don’t notice a weird taste in your water beyond the two-year time frame.

Even if your water tastes fine, the plastic bottles will begin to degrade, leaching potentially harmful chemicals into the water.

Filter Your Water At Home

In our opinion, the best way to avoid a weird bottled water taste is to stop drinking the water altogether.

It’s more cost-effective to filter your tap water at home, and you have the advantage of being in more control over how your water is treated and what the end product contains.

For example, if you don’t trust your water utility and you want to remove as many impurities as possible but you still want your water to taste great, consider installing a reverse osmosis system with a remineralization post-filter.

Reverse osmosis treatment removes up to 99.99% of all total dissolved solids, while the post-filter adds healthy, taste-enhancing minerals back into your water.

If you just want to improve a certain taste element of your water (for example, removing chlorine to eliminate the chemical taste), you can use any quality drinking water filter with activated carbon media.

An affordable option is a water filter pitcher like the Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher, which removes hundreds of contaminants without touching the natural minerals that make water taste pleasant, like calcium and magnesium.

You can take your filtered tap water with you when you need to leave home. Just choose a plastic-free reusable water bottle, like a stainless steel water bottle, and you’ll be able to enjoy your water on the go without having to spend money on bottled waters.

Clearly filtered high performance water filtration pitcher

πŸ“‘ Final Word

Weird-tasting bottled drinking water has a few possible causes. Some are relatively safe, while others may pose health risks.

If you can’t get to the bottom of your water bottle taste, it’s best to throw out the water rather than risk drinking it.

We strongly recommend filtering your tap water at home, so you can have complete control over removing any unpleasant tap water tastes and bring your water quality up to your standards.

❔ FAQs

Why does bottled water taste like metal?

Your bottled drinking water may taste like metal if it contains impurities that are known to give water a metallic taste, like iron and zinc. Your water may also taste slightly metallic if you use reusable water bottles made of metal, such as stainless steel bottles. You can usually get rid of this metallic taste by washing out your water bottle with soapy water and a teaspoon of baking soda.

Why does my bottled water taste like plastic?

Your bottled drinking water may taste like plastic if the water is stored in plastic bottles. A plastic water bottle taste is even more likely if you leave your water in a hot location in direct sunlight, which causes the plastic chemicals to leach into the water at a faster rate.

Why does my bottled water suddenly taste bitter?

Your bottled water might suddenly taste bitter if the water has become contaminated with a metallic-tasting metal or mineral. If the taste persists or all liquids taste bitter to you, you might have a medical condition. Consult with your doctor if you’re concerned.

Is plastic dangerous in water bottles?

Yes, there are some possible dangers of using plastic to make single-use water bottles. Exposure to heat and sunlight, or simply gradual aging of the bottle, will cause it to leach BPA, BPS, and other bisphenols into the water. Many brands use BPA-free plastics for their water bottles, but they may still contain other lesser-known chemicals that are equally as harmful.

Is it OK to drink water that tastes weird?

No. There are several possibly dangerous reasons why water may taste strange. If your water tastes “off” or weird in an unpleasant way, it’s best not to drink it. You will instinctively know when something doesn’t seem right, and when this happened, your water may not be safe to drink.

  • Laura Shallcross
    Senior Editor

    Laura is a passionate residential water treatment journalist who holds an undergraduate degree in Print Journalism and a master’s degree in Creative Writing. Over a span of 5 years she's written on a range of topics including water softening, well water treatment, and purification processes.

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