Why Does My Water Taste/Smell Like Metal?

Why Does My Water Taste/Smell Like Metal?
When you pour a fresh glass of water and get a whiff or taste of something metallic, it’s probably not only unpleasant but alarming. You suspect there’s something lurking in the water that you don’t want in your body, and worry it could even be harmful.

Whether you’re drinking city tap water or from your own private well, there are several common reasons for the smell or flavor of metal in your water, and effective filtration solutions available to eliminate the problem.

Where does metal taste/smell in water come from?

The most likely reason for a metallic taste or smell in your water is the presence of trace metals.

While some metals naturally occur in most water sources - such as iron and manganese - others may have leached into your water from corrosion of your pipes.

Your first step should be to test your water to identify whether you’re dealing with iron, manganese, copper, zinc, lead, or some other metal.

• Iron/Manganese

The most common reason for metallic tasting water is a high concentration of iron or manganese in the water. Well water in particular is at risk for natural contamination of these minerals. It’s also possible for iron to leach into your water supply from corrosion of your pipes. Iron in water does not usually present a health risk, but may require treatment at levels above 0.3 ppm. Children and adults who drink water with high levels of manganese for a long time may have problems with memory, attention, and motor skills. Infants (babies under one year old) may develop learning and behavior problems if they drink water with too much manganese in it.

• Copper/Zinc

The most common source for copper or zinc in your water supply is the rust and corrosion of your pipes or plumbing. The aging water infrastructure in many cities may be a source of metals as they leech into your water on its journey from the treatment plan to your home. The old copper or galvanized plumbing of your own house can also be a source of leaching metals as the water travels to your taps.Copper above 1.3 ppm may affect your health and requires treatment. Zinc levels above 5 ppm may make water taste unpleasant, considered by the EPA as a secondary drinking water regulation (risks for cosmetic or aesthetic effects rather than health issues.)

• Acidic or low pH water

A pH level of 7 is considered “neutral”. The acceptable range for pH in water systems is 6.5 to 8.5. Low pH, or acidic, water is corrosive, which can lead to copper or bronze plumbing leaching metals into your water over time. Zinc can also be a byproduct of the corrosion of galvanized plumbing. It’s possible that the taste of acidic water itself may seem metallic to you. Acidic water is very hard on your body’s digestive system, which can cause health issues.

• Lead

While the water crisis in Flint, Michigan may have you worry that metallic smell or taste means lead, according to the CDC, you cannot see, taste, or smell it in your drinking water. However, the presence of other minerals or metals in your water can be a sign of the plumbing corrosion which precipitates lead exposure. There is no safe level of lead in your drinking water, but the only way to know for sure if it’s present in your water is to test it.

How do you get rid of metallic water taste/smell?

After you’ve tested your water to verify the type of contaminant in your water, you can customize the treatment solution for your needs.

The filtration system needed to treat this problem will be based on both the source and the severity of the issue, whether it’s a whole home filtration system, or an undersink system to treat the issue at the tap.

• Iron and Manganese treatment - Whole House Solution

The EPA recommended maximum level of iron in your water is 0.3 ppm. In order to effectively treat the iron in your water supply, you’ll need to verify both the type and level of the iron in your water. Treatment options range from replaceable cartridge filters for your water supply, to whole house softeners or backwashing filters.

If your iron level is below 3 parts per million (ppm), you could install an iron and manganese filter cartridge at the point of entry to your home.
Iron and Manganese Reduction Water Cartridge Kit

If you have BOTH iron that is below 4 ppm AND hard water, you could invest in a Tier1 Whole House Hardness, Iron and Manganese system.
Hardness, Iron and Manganese Reduction System

If you DO NOT have hard water, and your iron level is above 4 ppm, your best option would be the Tier1 Whole House Iron, Manganese and Hydrogen Sulfide Air Induction Oxidation Filter System.
Iron, Manganese and Hydrogen Sulfide AIO System

If you have hard water AND iron above 4 ppm, your best option would be to install both a traditional salt-based softener and the Iron, Manganese and Hydrogen Sulfide AIO System.
Tier1 Water Softeners

Iron, Manganese and Hydrogen Sulfide AIO System

Read more about iron in your water

• Copper/Zinc/Lead - Reverse Osmosis System

When your water test shows a high result for copper, zinc, or lead, your best option is to treat it at your drinking water tap. Because these contaminants may be a result of corrosion flowing through the plumbing inside your home, a point of entry system will not be able to eliminate the issue by the time it reaches your tap.

The high level of filtration necessary to eliminate these contaminants in your water also results in a flow rate typically only practical for filtration at your faucet. While these contaminants may be health hazards, they likely don’t affect the water you use to bathe, do laundry, or wash your dishes. Your best treatment option is a Reverse Osmosis System.

Reverse Osmosis System

• Low pH/Acidic - Whole Home Neutralizing System

Because acidic water will be corrosive throughout your home, you need to treat it at the source. To raise the pH of acidic water, install a whole house water neutralizing system.

Whole House Water Neutralizing System

Eliminate metallic water smells with proper treatment

While the taste or smell of metal in your drinking water may be alarming, once you’ve identified the specific contaminant/s you’re dealing with, you can choose the most effective treatment to get rid of the issue for good.

If you’d like a personalized recommendation for your home, the Technical Support Team at Tier1water.com is available to chat or answer your call.