Why does tap water taste bad?

Why does tap water taste bad?

One of the biggest myths around tap water is that “if it tastes bad it is of poor quality”, but what exactly causes the bad taste of water?


According to the EU and WHO, in Western Europe, 99% of public tap water is drinkable. The bad taste of tap water is usually related to the chlorine that is added for its proper consumption.

Chlorine has been used for hundreds of years to keep water safe to drink. Kills microorganisms such as bacteria, germs and protozoa. The objective is to maintain chlorine at a level sufficient to combat these microorganisms throughout the distribution chain. This is important, since although drinking water comes out clean from the purification plants, microorganisms could be incorporated along the way.

After 100 years of research, chlorine has been shown to be generally safe. The most cited source is the Guide to Drinking Water Quality of the World Health Organization (WHO). This guide highlights that, while there may be certain risks, the value of chlorine as a disinfecting agent is unquestionable.

The amount of free chlorine in tap water recommended by the WHO, CDC and EU is 0.2 to 0.5 mg/l. Most people start to taste chlorine at around 0.2 mg/L.

Although there is no evidence that chlorine is bad for your health, it is one of the main causes of the bad taste of tap water. The good news is that 95% or more can be removed with an activated carbon water filter like EcoPro, EcoPro Compact, PitcherPro or BottlePro.

Heavy metals

Heavy metals present in tap water come mainly from old pipes and industrial wastewater. The accumulation of these metals can cause health problems. For this reason, and despite the fact that they are rare in Europe, they are usually listed among the main contaminants in tap water.

The most common heavy metals in tap water are copper, iron and lead, as well as mercury, nickel and zinc. Iron, cobalt, and zinc are considered essential minerals, but the concentrations found in tap water are not significant enough to have nutritional value.

In addition to the health problems they can cause, heavy metals are one of the main causes of bad taste in tap water. Luckily, just like chlorine, heavy metals can be filtered out.

Our EcoPro filter has been tested to reduce the presence of heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel and manganese by 90% or more. It also reduces the concentration of other healthy minerals such as iron and zinc. Unfortunately, filter technology does not distinguish healthy minerals from unhealthy heavy metals.

Traces of algae

The last cause of bad taste in tap water is traces of algae. While this is less common than chlorine and heavy metals, it can occur (especially in mid-summer or early fall when lake water sources are contaminated).
Back to blog