Sometimes your drinking water can smell or taste strange – this can either be due to a harmless environmental side effect or something more sinister. While the tap water in most countries is drinkable, there are still scores of contaminants found in water supplies across the globe.

Drinking water that exudes an unwanted odour could be a sign of larger issues plaguing the tap or water pipes. This could either be the sign of a harmful contaminant or just that your tap water was not cleansed effectively and this should be reported to your water company.

Your tap water generally travels quite a distance from the treatment plant to your tap, and it is entirely possible that it could have picked up some contaminants along the way, giving your drinking water a metallic or sewage smell or taste.

There are various reasons for this as well as various ways to remedy the problem, such as:

  • Sulphur Odour: Water that smells strongly like rotten eggs most probably contains sulphur bacteria or hydrogen sulphide. Sulphur bacteria dwell in oxygen-deficient environments and feed on decaying organic matter, creating hydrogen sulphide gas that gets trapped in water sources. To rectify this problem, the source of the hydrogen sulphide or sulphur bacteria in a water source needs to be found and checked for proper ventilation so that the gas has a means of escape.
  • Sewage Odour: If your drinking water smells like sewage, it could be due to the presence of bacteria that come from food, soap or other materials sitting in the drain, which cause heavy gases to pool around the drain near the sink and rise upwards when the taps are opened. Hydrogen sulphide is the most likely gas to cause this smell.
  • Salt Taste: If your drinking water tastes like salt, it could be because there are chloride ions and/or sulphates in the water supply. If you live near the coast it could be due to seawater having got into a local water supply.

It is best to contact your drinking water company if any of the above occurs – or you can pre-empt any of this merely by investing in a water cooler with a very good filter that can supply you with fresh, great-tasting drinking water virtually non-stop.