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A sweet taste in your tap water typically results from high concentrations of naturally occurring minerals, or due to an imbalance in the pH level. Despite the fact neither is undue cause for concern, it is important you quickly identify the cause of the sweet taste in the unlikely event of water contamination, which could present a health risk.
What causes my water to taste sweet?
Depending on where you live in the United Kingdom, your tap water will contain varying levels of trace minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium and others. If certain minerals are present in higher quantities. If an individual with a particularly sensitive palate consumes them, they can result in a variety of flavours.
If you have the right balance of potassium and sodium, for example, your water will take on a sweet taste. If you live in an area with very hard water, however, excessive mineral content can create a less pleasant, or saltier, flavour.
Where naturally-occurring, trace minerals aren’t the source of sweetness, then the cause may be your plumbing. No matter the age of your pipes, the metalwork can leach materials into your water and alter its taste. If this is the case, merely running your taps for an extended period should cleanse the system and effectively ‘refresh’ the taste of your water supply.
The perceived sweet-tasting water can even result from something you’ve eaten that day. If you consume bitter or sour foods, a sip of water revives your sweet taste-receptor cells and elicits a sensation of sweetness. Alternatively, it may be that you’re simply confusing a sweet taste with a sweet smell. This is a pleasant aroma in the air can trick your senses into believing the water is sweet.
What should I do if my water tastes sweet?
Some people enjoy the sweet taste coming from the tap water. However, it’s always recommended you identify the source of the flavour to rule out possible contamination. First, run your water supply for a length of time to clean the plumbing network and remove possible trace mineral build-ups.
If flushing your system has no effect, then consider purchasing an aeration or carbon filter. These grab most of the organic material suspended in the water to remove the elements causing the strange taste. Finally, consider passing your tap water through a further process before drinking, including:
If your problem persists, the Drinking Water Inspectorate advises you contact your mains water supplier and explain your concern. Your supplier should request a water sample in response to your complaint and provide a recommended solution based on the result.
Alternatively, your supplier must run daily checks on the quality of your water supply, and you can check the test results via their website.
In summary, if your water tastes sweet, here’s what to do:
Run your supply for an extended period and taste again;
Purchase a carbon filter to remove impurities and enhance the fresh flavour;
Introduce more advanced filtration techniques to improve your supply;
Contact your water supplier and request they carry out a detailed analysis.
If you contact your supplier and feel they fail to take the necessary steps to address your problem, you can liaise with the Consumer Council for Water. This independent body for the water industry offers a comprehensive ‘watchdog’ support service, advising consumers throughout both England and Wales.