Can you drink the tap water in Denmark? What is the tap water like in Copenhagen? What are the potential issues with drinking water in Denmark? What is the best water filter for municipal or well water?
In this article we will answer all these questions. If you want a summary then jump to the end.
Where does tap water in Denmark come from?
Groundwater suitable for production of drinking water can be extracted from almost everywhere in Denmark; drinking water which is clean and tasty. In Denmark we protect our groundwater by preventing contamination from pollution. In other words Danish groundwater policy is based on prevention rather than treatment. The seepage through the soil means that the water is naturally purified and filtered. On its way through the soil layers, the water is supplied with natural salts and lime, giving it taste and character. This means that Danish drinking water is generally safe to drink.
Source: https://eng.mst.dk/nature-water/water-at-home/ and http://50liters.com/copenhagen-tap-water/
However, groundwater quality is also affected by water seeping down and by the surrounding geology. Therefore, groundwater in some places contains pesticides or other contaminants, just as groundwater may contain naturally occurring substances such as lime, arsenic, nickel and fluoride.
Can you drink the tap water in Denmark?
In Denmark, there are just as high requirements for tap water as there are for bottled water. In summary you can usually safely drink the tap water. However, there are potential issues and risks. Here we will list a few of them.
Nitrates in tap water in Denmark
According to one of the largest studies of its kind nitrates is the main source of bowel cancer. Every year, approx. 5,000 Danes die of colon or rectal cancer.
Even at concentrations well below the limit value, there is an increased risk, say researchers, who are particularly concerned about the continued high nitrate level in water from small drinking water wells but also public tap water. According to the researchers, the results indicate that the limit value for nitrate in drinking water in Denmark and the EU is too high and should be tightened.
Chlorine in tap water
Denmark has vastly reduced use of chlorine in the past 20 years. For example, since 2009 Copenhagen doesn’t use chlorine in the tap water anymore. This is positive both for the taste and reduces risks from chlorine byproducts.
But where chlorine is used there are risks of cancerous byproducts. Read more in our articles about chlorine byproducts.
Hard water in Denmark
Hard water doesn’t negatively impact your health but can be annoying. There is a Danish study that states that soft water can be a benefit for people suffering from childhood eczema, says Erik Arvin, professor emeritus in water supply at DTU Environment at the Department of Water and Environmental Technology.
- If there is very little lime in the water as in West Jutland, it tastes different. It has something to do with the fact that the general salt content is greater in the capital than in West Jutland. Therefore, some will think that the West Jutland water tastes better, says Erik Arvin.
For the skin and hair using a shower filter such as ShowerPro can be beneficial for people with eczema, dry skin and hair.
Salt in your water
The content of sodium chloride in the water varies from region to region and is of great importance for the taste experience. The salt we taste in drinking water can come from saline precipitation that has seeped into the groundwater, but also from substances in the soil that the water takes with it on its way.
Tap water in Copenhagen
Copenhagen has some of the world’s best tasting tapwater according to the Danes themselves. The drinking water in Copenhagen undergoes strict daily quality controls, ensuring that it is perfectly safe to drink – and it is so clean that there is no need to add chlorine or other chemicals. However, not everyone agree with this and prefer to use a filter to improve the taste.
The local water supplier HOFOR supplies 1.1 million customers in the Copenhagen metropolitan area with.
Copenhagen, Denmark’s primary water source, came from the absorption of groundwater from the chalk aquifer. The groundwater quality from these deep aquifers is generally high. It takes 40-60 years for the water to penetrate down to the aquifer — an estimated resource of 1,800 million m³ groundwater per year. About one-third of the water is used by households, one third by agriculture, market gardens, and another one third used by industry and institutions.
At the waterworks, the water undergoes a simple water treatment: oxygenation and filtration. The water is oxygenated in oxygenation basins and filtered through a filter, which consists of a layer of anthracite coal and several layers of sand and gravel. The filter removes iron and manganese compounds, which are quite harmless, but which can discolour the water and give it a metallic taste.
Taste of tap water in Denmark
Sometimes sweet, other times bordering on bitter – the taste of the water from the tap depends, among other things, on the combination and concentration of the mineral content. The composition differs from region to region. Water may contain more or fewer minerals depending on the geographical circumstances.
This is the explanation why the taste of tap water can be so different. A high content of sodium in connection with chlorine gives the water a salty taste, while a high content of sulphate gives a bitter taste. Magnesium, on the other hand, makes the water feel nice and soft.
Where does tap water in Denmark taste best?
A couple of years ago Copenhagen University did a scientific study on taste of tap water across the country. Here’s a summary of the results:
- The chemical analyzes showed that there was a very large variation in the chemical content of Danish drinking water. The content of salts varied by a factor of 100 between samples with the lowest salt concentration (“thinnest”) to the samples with the highest salt concentration (“thickest”).
- The variation in sodium and chloride concentrations was particularly large. Water with the highest salt content was from Ishøj and Store Magleby, while the salt content in water from Torplille, Marstal, Hjorthøj and Skagen was also relatively high. These waterworks all have boreholes with a coastal location and the reason for the high salt content is due to the influence of salt water.
- The taste assessment showed that the taste differences between the 20 water samples were quite modest, and none of the taste parameters were assessed to have a high intensity. On an intensity scale of 1-15, the highest value used was 9.1. The taste parameters that had the highest intensity were mouth-watering, fresh, salty, lime, hardness and astringent, here listed with decreasing intensity.
- The highest intensity of salt was 8.3, and although this is slightly lower than the intensity of refreshing, it is the most important parameter in the description of the taste, as it had the greatest variation between the samples. Correlation analyzes showed that salt-tasting water is perceived as less fresh, refreshing and tasty. The samples that had the highest salt concentration were also the samples that tasted the most salty and were rated the least tasty.
- There do not seem to be any of the measured chemical parameters that result in good taste. The results suggest that it is the absence of high salt concentrations that gives palatability. Soft water with low salt concentrations was rated as most tasty. Especially water from the West to Central Jutland (Hjertinge, Kibæk and Sdr. Resen) was judged to be the most tasty, but also water from Frederikshavn, Baunehøj and Asserbo on Zealand was tasty.
- Water that tasted astringent, metallic, hard and calcareous was also considered less tasty, while water with a moderately sour or bitter taste was considered fresh. The astringent, metallic, hard and calcareous taste correlated with the concentrations of calcium, zinc and aluminum.
Do you need a water filter in Denmark?
From a health point of view you probably don’t need a water filter in Denmark.
The filter systems from TAPP Water help you get the optimal result out of your local water: They help to create an optimal mineral balance in the water, and they remove the taste-disturbing ingredients. Thanks to the patented TAPP Water 5-stage filtration technology, the amount of calcium-binding calcium (Ca 2+ ) is reduced. The naturally occurring magnesium (Mg 2+ ) remains in the water. In addition, valuable magnesium is released through the replacement of calcium (Ca 2+ ).
Try out EcoPro or PitcherPro by TAPP Water available through our website and our local partner.
If your home is dependent on well water then you might want to consider an ultrafiltration filter or reverse osmosis filter.
Conclusion about tap water in Denmark
- The public tap water generally comes from clean sources and is safe to drink
- Common issues include nitrates and hard water
- Most Danes find the tap water tasting good but foreigners might find it different from what they are used to due to local salts, hardness and metals
- TAPP Water privides a simple, affordable and sustainable water filter for Danish tap water
- Avoid bottled water as it’s bad for your wallet and the planet and not healthier
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