6 Things You Might Not Know About Drinking Water

You might not think much about what comes out of the faucet when you turn it on. By taking that attitude, you could miss out on a few cool facts about drinking water. You could also risk your health or damage your pipes and appliances with contaminant-laden water. Since water is essential to survival, give it the time and consideration it deserves by learning these lesser-known facts about drinking water. 

1. Most Tap Water Is Safe To Drink

Many Americans get household water from a local public utility. These companies are required to conduct annual testing and report the results to consumers. So, there’s a pretty good chance your water is safe to drink even if you prefer a fancy bottled version. Also, if you have a private well, it’s a good idea to conduct testing on your household water to ensure safety.

2. Hard Water Can Ruin Plumbing

Water is often classified as hard or soft based on its dissolved minerals concentration. Hard water typically contains high levels of calcium and magnesium. On the other hand, soft water has a high concentration of sodium. 

If you are unsure about whether your water is hard or soft, take a look at your dishes after they are washed. You probably have hard water if they have a white coating or spots. The same spots that linger on your dishes build up inside pipes, causing serious damage to plumbing and appliances. Hard water can also interfere with laundry detergent, so your clothes may not get fully clean with each washing. 

Fixing the problem of hard water is relatively simple. Look into having a water softener installed to reduce the mineral content. The right system will protect your pipes, improve cleaning power, and eliminate the limescale in your shower. 

3. Some Older Household Pipes Contain Lead

There are strict regulations about keeping lead out of drinking water. The metal has been linked to birth defects and neurological disorders and is particularly dangerous to children. While new water supply lines are made with lead-free materials, older ones often contain lead. This can contaminate your water supply. If you don’t know what the supply lines leading to your house are made of, ask your utility company. 

4. Most U.S. Water Supplies Contain Fluoride 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly three-fourths of American households connected to public water supplies had fluoridated water. This is critical to support healthy teeth. Public campaigns claim that fluoride in water can reduce cavities by up to 25%. 

5. Boiling Water Can Concentrate Some Contaminants

When water is unsafe, you may be told to boil it for several minutes before using it for cooking or drinking. The high temperatures kill bacteria and other pathogens, making dangerous water safe for consumption. However, some water is lost to evaporation so if your water contains high levels of metals or other particulates, they will become more concentrated after boiling.

6. Some Drinking Water Smells Awful

Some water supplies carry distinctive odors. Some common descriptions include musty, sulfur, or rotten eggs. This is generally the result of dissolved chemicals or organic material in the water. The USGS classifies these as nuisance constituents affecting water taste and odor. 

Hydrogen sulfide gas can leech into the water and cause a familiar smell of sulfur or rotten eggs. It is common in areas where groundwater comes into contact with certain minerals, such as pyrite. In most cases, this water is perfectly safe to drink, but you might want to request recent test results from the local water authority to be sure. 

If you only smell rotten eggs when using the hot water, there’s a good chance it’s due to a chemical reaction in the hot water tank. Schedule a tank cleaning to eliminate buildup and sediment. 

No matter how easy it is to take your tap water for granted, you should take time to learn more about it. Having your household water supply tested and using an appropriate filtration system to ensure it is safe and free from bad tastes or odors is also a good idea.