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Why Does My Water Have a Bad Taste or Smell?

Scientifically, we all know that Water is odorless and tasteless. So, why my water has a sour taste and smell? Oh my God! Am I drinking contaminated water?

These probably are the questions you ask yourself when your water smells like bleach, fishy, grassy, or rotten eggs. Sadly, day by day quality of tap water is degrading, and the reasons are water pollution and water scarcity.

Did You Know?

Our smell sense can recognize a much lower concentration of substances in water than our taste sense. That is why we can smell a couple of microorganisms per liter.

The most common reasons for bad taste and smell in water are chemical compounds mixed naturally and manually. This article will share the various reasons for different types of foul odors in your water.

So, let’s get started.


7 Common Water Odor and their Causes

Common Water Odor and their Causes

It’s disappointing that some communities in the world drink contaminated and smelly water for their whole life. Although smelly water is not a threat to human health, people can never bear water that smells and tastes.

So, here are some familiar water odor and tastes and their causes.


1. Bleach or Chemical Odor

Sometimes, you would have noticed that your water smells like pool water. It is because chlorine gets added to your tap water during the filtration process. Luckily, chlorine in waterworks is a disinfectant in water, but the smell is unpleasant.

Some of the common reasons for chlorination in your water are:

Without adding chlorine, it becomes impossible to kill pathogens and harmful microorganisms in water.

Also, flowing through rusty pipes, your water has contact with many bacteria and viruses. So, chlorine helps in killing them and making your water safe.

When storms and floods take place, wells and pipes have a risk of bacteria growth. So, to stop the growth of bacteria, shock chlorination takes place.

So, the limit is 4 mg/l; if the chlorine level exceeds this limit, your water probably smells like bleach.


2. Metal Taste

If water has a metallic taste, it contains high metal elements such as iron, mercury, lead, and arsenic.

High iron content also leads to a change of water into light yellow color.

If your water is from a municipal source, the rusty pipes, and plumbing system cause the iron content to get high.

But if you use well water, then the reason for metallic taste and odor is low water pH levels.

Although iron is not a problem, lead is! Water contains lead due to contaminated pipes. So, if you suspect and contamination in your lines, then we suggest you change it.


3. Rotten eggs Odor

Rotten eggs odor is worst! One can not stand in front of the rotten egg so, drinking it is impossible. Well, the reason is Hydrogen Sulphide is present in your water.

Also, it can get mixed when the groundwater passes through rocks. It happens when sulfur-reducing bacteria grow in your drains or water heaters. They change the natural sulfates into the Hydrogen Sulphide compound and smells like rotten eggs.

Interestingly, water with rotten eggs is not much harmful to consume. But hydrogen sulfide is very dangerous for human health.


4. Fishy Odor

Many of us are familiar with the fish smell—Stinky and gross! The presence of Barium and Cadmium in your water is the reason for the fishy odor.

They are both organic materials; Barium comes from mineral ores, and Cadmium comes through industrial waste and fertilizers and gets mixed with water in the plumbing system.

Other reasons for fishy smell and taste in water are decaying organic matter present in drain and wells.


5. Salty Taste

We all know that the presence of high sodium in sea and ocean water makes them salty and unsafe to drink.

If your tap water is tasting salty, then there are leakages in the drinking water supply system. Other reasons are the presence of chloride ions coming from industrial waste.

When the water moves in the ground, natural sulfate gets mixed with water. Both magnesium and sodium sulfates can also make the water salty and undrinkable.

Besides your health, salty water can also damage pipes and boilers.


6. Fuel-like Odor

Gasoline or fuel-like odor are rare but most harmful. There are three common reasons why your water has a fuel-like odor.

  • There can be a leakage in the petroleum pump near your well
  • Industrial waste and discharge from landfills that contaminate the water supply
  • Run-off of fertilizers and other chemicals from the farms that infect the water supply


7. Moldy Taste

Moldy taste in your water is usually related to algae bloom and frequent bacteria growth during summers.

Although water treatment removes the algae and bacteria, their odd and moldy smell can travel through the pipes.

Also, if a sufficient amount of chlorine gets not added during water treatment, the chances are higher for moldy taste and smell.

But if you are using well water, then the pollution and the presence of algae, bacteria, and other microorganisms cause the moldy smell.


Problem with Drinking smelly water

Though smelly water is not a significant concern for your health, they are still unpleasant to drink.

Suppose your water has even a slightly bad odor. In that case, it is a problem as the reasons could be a leakage in the water treatment system and run-off of chemicals and industrial wastes into the water supply system.

As already told, the presence of lead and hydrogen sulfide is too dangerous for human health. So, it’s better to test your water if you smell a sudden odor.



Water quality is getting reduced day by day! Water scarcity and water pollution are on their surges, and we are the one who contributes in it. And that is why in punishment we are getting the water that has bad smell and tastes.

We suggest you use Filter systems and RO to remove the harmful chemicals and compounds that cause a smell to your water. Also, make sure to test your water frequently.

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