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Unusual smells & taste

Chlorine smell or taste: Chlorine has been used for hygiene purposes for over 100 years. Chlorine in water may be present in two forms, free and combined. Free chlorine does the hard work of killing bacteria and oxidising contaminants. When the free chlorine combines with contaminants, it becomes combined chlorine, or chloramines. In water, this form of chlorine has very little sanitising ability, and no oxidising ability. Total chlorine is just the sum of both combined chlorine and free chlorine.

If you find the smell unpleasant you could ll water in a jug, then put it in the fridge to cool down before consuming it as cold water loses the smell of chlorine. Always remember to throw away any unused water after 24 hours and clean the jug regularly.

Metallic taste: Corroding copper or zinc pipes may produce metallic tastes. Zinc imparts an undesirable astringent taste to water. Tests indicate that 5% of a population could distinguish between zinc-free water and water containing zinc at a level of 4mg/liter (as zinc sulfate). Water containing zinc at concentrations in the range 3–5 mg/liter also tends to appear opalescent and develops a greasy lm when boiled. Test water for copper or Zinc.

Some systems have a high mineral concentration, giving a salty or soda taste. The risk of this happening is higher when water has a lower pH and is acid. Use the Hardness or Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) test kit to check.

Rotten egg odour: This is usually the result of decaying organic deposits. As water flows through these areas, hydrogen sulfide gas could be picked up, and the gas may be released into the air later. Hydrogen sulfide gas produces the rotten egg odour, can be corrosive to plumbing at high levels, and can tarnish silver rapidly. As little as 0.5ppm can be tasted in drinking water. The 13-in-One test kit for drinking water contains hydrogen sulfide tests or try individual Hydrogen Sul de test strips.

Musty or earthy tastes or smells: These smells are usually a result of harmless organic matter. Bacteria can grow on grease or fibre washers used in the plumbing, especially if the pipework is warm and rarely has water owing through it. Even very low amounts can cause unpleasant odours. Test water for bacteria. If the problem persists then cleaning and disinfecting the plumbing system is necessary.

Some elements in water can not be identified by colour, smell or taste. They may however, still be harmful during short or long term exposure. These can include Aluminium, Arsenic, Lead. Bacteria and Heavy Metals. It is important to regularly test water and make sure that drinking water in the home is safe.