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The taste of water varies depending on where in the UK you live, with people reporting their tap water tastes like metal. A metallic, bitter taste typically results from higher amounts of metals commonly-used in domestic plumbing networks, like copper and zinc. When water sits stagnant in the pipework for an extended period, it can take on a more pronounced flavour. The metallic taste is often more noticeable in larger dwellings with extensive pipework.
Water supplies with higher levels of chlorine are also prone to metal tastes as the chemical reacts with the materials in your plumbing as well as your kitchen appliances. As such, repeatedly boiling the same water can strengthen the flavour. The issue does not pose a health threat and running your tap for a few minutes should solve the problem. However, if you are concerned, contact your water supplier.
What causes my water to taste like metal?
Suppliers add various chemicals to make your tap water safe to drink with chlorine one of the most common. Chlorine can cause your water to react with the pipes in your plumbing system, giving your tap water a metallic, bitter flavour.
You will often notice the taste is stronger in the morning and early evening, or anytime you haven’t used your water supply for an extended period, which is why running your taps for just a few minutes should flush the system, removing any stagnant water to improve the taste. Water supplies often contain naturally-occurring trace metals, including copper, iron, lead, manganese and nickel. Much of the UK’s plumbing network was installed during Victorian era, so if you haven’t upgraded your dwelling’s pipework, there’s a risk a corroded duct is leaching metal into your water supply.
If you live in a new house, but your water supply still tastes metallic, it could just be you live in a soft-water area.
What should I do if my water tastes like metal?
If your water tastes like metal, there is likely no cause for concern. However, given there’s a risk of lead contamination, you must test your supply to confirm the absence of any toxic elements.
According to the Drinking Water Inspectorate, water companies must take random daily samples from consumer taps to test for the presence of lead and you can request either your supplier analyses your supply or shares test results from your local area. Furthermore, you can query if there is a history of lead piping in other houses from your neighbourhood—given lead was used in plumbing up until 1970, the age of your home is a good indicator of the risk of lead piping.
If the metallic taste only happens from a specific tap, check the age of the faucets: both brand new and particularly old tap washers can react with the chlorine in your water supply, causing a metallic flavour. In such an instance, simply changing the tap’s washer for a synthetic or non-phenolic alternative will resolve the problem. High-quality filters can also remove the majority of trace metals and organic compounds in water, returning your supply to a neutral taste and smell.
Alternatively, contact your water supplier for expert advice, locating their contact details either on your water bill or via their website. If your water supplier fails to fix the problem, you can contact the Consumer Council for Water, which is the independent body for the water industry in England and Wales.