How to Make Tap Water Taste Better (a Water Expert’s Secret)

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Sick of drinking tap water that tastes bad? Wondering how to enjoy drinking your tap water without resorting to bottled water? We’ve covered the 6 best ways to improve the taste of your tap water in this guide.

❔ Why Does Tap Water Taste Bad?

Before we look at how to make tap water taste better, let’s consider the reasons why tap water tastes bad.

The cause of your poor-tasting tap water supply may determine your method of improving its taste, so try and figure this out before moving on.

Some of the bad tastes in tap water, and the reasons for these tastes, are:

Chemical Taste – Chlorine Disinfection

If your water has a chemical or chlorine taste, it’s most likely due to chlorine disinfection. All public water supplies are disinfected with chlorine or chloramine to prevent microbiological contamination. While chlorinated water is safe to drink, it usually has an unpleasant taste and smell.

Related: Why does my water taste like plastic?

Chlorine in tap water

Rotten Egg Taste – Hydrogen Sulfide

Hydrogen sulfide is the most common cause of rotten egg taste and odor in water. Some states naturally have a lot of hydrogen sulfide in the groundwater, which isn’t completely removed during water treatment. Private wells are especially prone to high hydrogen sulfide levels in the water.

Metallic Taste – Iron

Metallic-tasting water is usually caused by metals, like iron, manganese, and zinc. These contaminants also give water a rusty color and may leave orange, red, or black stains on your water-using appliances and fixtures.

Dirty or Musty – Sediment and Algae

Musty or dirty water is likely caused by sediment or algal blooms in your source water, and is typically a problem in private wells. Alongside the poor taste, you may notice that your water has a brownish tinge or doesn’t look crystal clear.

yellow tap water

Bitter Taste – Copper

Finally, a bitter, medicinal taste to your water is typically caused by copper. Copper gets into your water through corrosion of pipes and plumbing, and is known to leave green or blue stains on fixtures and around faucets.

📝 6 Ways to Improve Tap Water Taste

You should have now identified one or several causes of poor-tasting tap water. Let’s take a look at the best ways to make your tap water taste better:

🥇 Best Method: Use a Water Filter System

If your water tastes bad, disguising it with other flavors probably won’t make it state much better. The only way to significantly improve your water’s taste is to buy a water filter system that can remove the contaminants causing the bad taste or smell.

Some of the best water filter systems to consider depend on the contaminants you want to remove:

For Metallic and Rotten Egg Taste: Air Injection Filtration

If your water tastes like metal or rotten eggs, an air injection filtration system is the best solution.

Air injection filtration systems oxidize iron, manganese, and sulfur in tap water, then trap them in a greensand media. Water leaves the system free from these contaminants, so it should no longer taste or smell metallic or like rotten eggs.

Air injection systems cost around $1,000-$2,000 and are installed at your home’s main water line, upstream of the water heater.

Springwell WS1 Well Water Filtration System

For Chlorine Taste: Activated Carbon Filtration

Filtering tap water with an activated carbon filter is the best way to get rid of a chlorine or chemical taste.

Activated carbon filters adsorb chemicals like chlorine, pulling them out of the water. Many activated carbon water filters are NSF certified for their ability to remove chlorine smell and taste.

An activated carbon water filter can be included as a single stage in large filtration systems, or can be used alone in pitcher water filters or similar small POU systems.

Activated Carbon Media

For Metallic or Bitter Taste: KDF Filters

To treat a metallic water taste, look for a filter that uses KDF media.

Filtering water with KDF should reduce some of the most common metals found in tap water, including copper, mercury, and nickel. KDF also removes dangerous metals that don’t have a taste or smell, like lead.

KDF filter media is often combined with another filter media, like activated carbon, to provide the most thorough filtration.

kdf media

For All Tastes and Odors: Reverse Osmosis System

A reverse osmosis system is the best water treatment method for removing all tastes and odors. Many bottled water products are treated with reverse osmosis to remove chemicals, metals, and other dissolved solids that affect the quality of water.

Reverse osmosis involves sending water through a semi-permeable membrane, which contains tiny pores that allow only water particles to pass through.

Our advice is to look for an RO system with a remineralization filter stage. Reverse osmosis removes everything, including healthy minerals, which can leave water tasting a bit flat. Adding minerals back into your pure water will give it a fresh mineral taste.

Tank-Based RO System

🥈 Second-Best Method: Infuse your Water

Perhaps your water doesn’t have a strong taste of chemicals or metals, but you still don’t enjoy the taste of plain tap water.

Rather than buying bottled mineral water (and wasting hundreds of single-use plastic bottles per year in the process), consider infusing your tap water at home.

There are a multitude of different ways to infuse your local tap water with fruits and veggies and make it taste better. Some of our favorite options are:

  • Ginger and lemon
  • Lime juice, mint, and cucumber
  • Apple and cinnamon
  • Strawberries
  • Lemon and lime

You can add whatever flavorings you enjoy to your tap water, improving its taste and encouraging you to stay hydrated throughout the day. Infusing your water with fruits and veggies will also increase its health properties.

If you don’t have the time or patience to infuse your water with actual fruits and vegetables, consider using low-sugar fruit cordial instead. Add a small amount to your water to introduce an enjoyable fruity flavor.

Related: Is MiO Bad for You?

fruit infused water

🥉 Third-Best Method: Alkalize your Water with Minerals

One of the reasons why bottled water often tastes nicer than tap water is because it contains healthy minerals and has a higher pH.

There are now ways to increase the pH of your water by adding dissolved minerals, giving it a much more pleasant taste.

The most cost-effective and convenient way to alkalize your water is with an alkaline water filter pitcher. This type of pitcher will improve your water quality by removing contaminants that affect taste and smell, like chlorine and volatile organic compounds. It’ll then further improve your water’s taste by releasing healthy minerals into the water.

Alkaline water filter pitchers are easy to use and maintain. You just fill the pitcher with water and wait for it to filter into the bottom chamber, ready for drinking. To maintain good water quality, you’ll need to change the filter every three months or so.

Related Content: Find out more about the best alkalizing water filter pitchers in this guide.

alkaline water from water ionizer

Alternative Method 1: Add Ice

Some people find ice water more appealing than plain tap water. It’s true that water tastes less enjoyable if it’s warm – if you’ve ever drank from a water bottle that’s been left in a hot car, you’ll know how unpleasant it can be.

Making your tap water taste better could be as simple as adding ice cubes. To make things even more interesting, try adding fruits and herbs to the water in your ice cube trays, then freezing them. You’ll have ice-cold water that tastes sweet and exciting.

Alternative Method 2: Add Some Fizz

Some people prefer the taste of sparkling water to still water. In this case, consider making tap water taste good by adding some fizz.

Nowadays, you can buy faucets that deliver both still and sparkling water, allowing you to choose between the two. So, there’s no need to buy bottled sparkling water from the store (and waste plastic water bottles in the process). You can convert your own drinking tap water into sparkling water at home.

Sparkling water

Last Resort: Drink Tea

If you can’t stand the taste of your tap water, even when it contains tasty fruits and veggies, and you don’t want to spend money on a water filter, your last resort might be to drink tea.

We don’t recommend drinking tea all day, every day. But perhaps you could start your morning with a big mug of tea, have a cup of tea with your lunch, and finish the day with a warm brew. If you think this will encourage you to drink tap water, it’s better than nothing.

Note: you could also drink coffee if you’re not a tea person, but be careful not to go overboard! Don’t drink more than three cups of coffee per day.

🧠 How to Improve Tap Water Taste: FAQs

Why does tap water taste so weird?

Your tap water may taste weird for all manner of reasons, such as corroding water pipes, chlorination, or local contamination. Different regions have different impurities in their water, so you may be “used to” the taste of some tap waters, and find tap waters in other regions very unpleasant to drink.

Why do I not like the taste of my tap water?

If you don’t like the taste of your tap water supply, it probably has a high total dissolved solids count. Heavy metals, chemicals, and other contaminants can give your drinking water a bitter, unpleasant taste. On the other hand, bottled waters are often filtered and mineralized, so you probably prefer these to your tap water.

Does boiling water improve its taste?

Yes, in some circumstances, boiling drinking water can remove its taste. When you boil water, it causes chlorine to evaporate. As a result, your water will no longer have the chemical taste of chlorine.

Note that boiling water only removes chlorine. You can’t remove heavy metals, sulfur, or any other poor-tasting contaminant by boiling your water alone.

How do you make tap water not taste like metal?

The best way to get rid of the metal taste in your tap water is to use a water filter that treats metallic elements, such as air injection filters and KDF filters. Failing that, you can mask the metallic taste by infusing your water with fruits or vegetables.

What can I add to tap water to make it taste better?

The best taste-boosting ingredients to add to your water are strawberries, raspberries, lemons, mint, ginger, limes, peaches, berries, apples, cucumber, and pomegranate. You could also add fruit juice to your water as a convenient, no-prep option.

Think about which fruits and vegetables you enjoy eating. If you like the flavor of them, you’ll probably enjoy them in your water.

Is tap water safe without a filter?

Yes. Even if your tap water tastes unpleasant, if it comes from a public supplier, then it’s typically safe to drink. People choose to filter their water to make it safer – by removing traces of potentially dangerous contaminants and reducing their water’s total dissolved solids count.

  • Brian Campbell
    Founder, Water Treatment Specialist

    Brian Campbell is a water treatment specialist and water expert based in Denver, Colorado. He's always been obsessed with water quality, and has spent years testing all kinds of treatment devices from simple pitchers and portable devices to complex whole home systems.

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