Why Does Water Have A Taste?

A study published by the CDC found that 7% of people reported no daily consumption of water, and a third (36%) reported drinking only 1-3 cups each day.

Dehydration is even more common in older adults.

Inadequate hydration can have many health consequences, from impacting our mood to how well we can think and increased risk for chronic diseases.

One common complaint from people who don’t drink much water is tasteless, flavorless, and bland, especially compared to juices, soda, and tea.

However, most of us will find that water has a definite, noticeable taste, especially when you try other types and sources of water.

Types of Water

Not all water is the same. Different types of water go through different processes that can affect the taste.

  • Springwater – Is from natural freshwater springs, typically in mountainous areas. As rain or snow runoff down the mountain, minerals are collected from the rocks and soil. Each spring will then have a different composition of minerals.
  • Well, water – from a well that has been drilled to reach underground water sources. This water usually needs to be filtered for safety, and you can generally taste the high concentration of soil minerals that are found in these deep aquifers.
  • Tap water is supplied by your local municipality, usually processed in water treatment plants. Many places add fluoride to protect your teeth. Copper piping can also add a subtle taste to your tap water.
  • Sparkling water – water that has been carbonated with carbon dioxide. The fizziness of carbonation and whatever minerals were in the sourced water can influence the taste. Some sparkling water products also add juice or flavors to enhance the taste.
  • Distilled water – Is water that has been boiled until it evaporates, leaving any minerals and contaminants behind. The evaporated H20 is then condensed back into liquid. This process strips the water of its minerals, bacteria, and chemicals.

Tastes of Water

The proportion of minerals in the water is the primary contributor to its taste. 

Some of these minerals taste better than others.

In blind taste tests, the waters that were rated better had higher concentrations of:

  • HCO₃⁻ (bicarbonate)
  • SO₄²⁻ (sulfate)
  • Ca²⁺ (calcium)
  • Mg²⁺ (magnesium)

And on the opposite end of the rating scale, low scorings were given to waters with high concentrations of:

  • Na⁺ (sodium)
  • K⁺ (potassium)
  • Cl⁻ (chloride)

Tips for Drinking More Water

If you want to increase your water intake – and you probably should – but you aren’t crazy about the taste, here are some tips:

  • Filter your tap water.
  • Squeeze a lemon or lime into it or a splash of fruit juice.
  • Add some fruit like strawberries, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, cucumber, or even herbs like ginger or mint.
  • Experiment with different types of water, like sparkling water or water from different places.

Water is essential to good health. Drinking too much soda, alcohol, coffee, juices, or energy drinks can negatively affect your health, especially if it leads you to drink less water.