Growing up, my brother and I would drink out of the garden hose when we were playing outside in the summer. And when inside, we drank water directly from the tap. But after growing up and moving around a bit, I started to realize that all tap water isn’t created equal. Just because I could drink the tap water at my childhood home, it didn’t taste the same in other cities. And even worse, I learned that the quality of tap water can vary greatly from one location to the next.
Beyond just tasting different, tap water can have harmful contaminants in or even just some harmless minerals that may irritate your throat or not taste pleasant to you. Generally speaking, the tap water in most homes in the United States is safe to drink (obviously, not in Flint!) but you can check just how safe your water is by entering in your zip code on the Environmental Working Group website. You can also look to see if your local water municipality publishes their quality reports on their website.
As you travel outside of the USA, the safety of the drinking water will vary, so be sure to look it up online before you travel.
Before that water ever comes from your tap at home, it is treated with chemicals at the local water municipality facility to ensure that it arrives in your home safe to drink. Of course, this does mean that there are some traces of those chemicals and other items left in the water. The EPA regulates this so that those levels meet nationwide safety levels. Some of the minerals that are commonly in tap water in the USA include:
Looking at the reports for your local water will give you a better idea of what exactly is in the water that you’re drinking.
There are a variety of reasons that your tap water at home can taste different from your grandma’s in another state or even your neighbor’s down the street. Everything from the pipes used for your home’s plumbing to the chemicals used by the local water company to the naturally occurring minerals in the water can change the way it tastes when you drink it.
For example, I currently live in Las Vegas where we have very hard water. In my previous home, we did not have a whole house water softener installed and I could not drink the water from the tap without getting a sore throat. Due to all the excess minerals in the hard water, it irritated my throat when drinking it or even using it to make coffee. But in my current house, we have the water softener installed and it’s much better. However, I still choose to use a water filter pitcher to make the tap water taste better.
If you don’t want to drink your tap water direct from the tap, then you have two choices – you can buy bottled water to drink or use a water filter pitcher to improve the taste of your home’s water. I suggest that you go with the water filter pitcher for two reasons:
One of the best things about using a water filter pitcher for your drinking water is that they work to remove chemicals and other contaminants from your home’s water. For instance, many of the top brands like Brita work to remove or reduce things like chlorine taste and odor, zinc, and the health contaminants copper, cadmium and mercury. You can check the brand that you want to buy to see what all they work to remove or reduce from the water.
If you’ve never used one of these awesome kitchen must-haves (in my opinion, at least!) then let me give you the breakdown on how it works. The pitcher has a filter that you have to insert, which works to clean the water up a bit. The filter is typically a charcoal filter that you have to replace regularly. And the activated charcoal granules in the filter help to remove or reduce impurities in the water as it flows through the filter.
When you first install an new filter, you have to run an entire pitcher’s worth of water through it (maybe more depending on the brand and model) to remove the initial charcoal dust from the filter. You can’t drink this first batch of water, but I have used it to water plants outside. After, you just put water in the pitcher and wait for it to run through the filter. Then, drink up or put in the fridge to get cold!
Just be sure to keep any eye on when you need to replace your filter in the pitcher. Some pitchers have an indicator to let you know when that time is up. However, you can usually tell on your own as it takes the water longer and longer to get through the filter as it gets closer to time to replace it.
top image credit: nikkytok/Deposit Photos