Why Does Reverse Osmosis Water Taste Funny?

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Anyone who had drinking water that came from a water filter such as an RO system can tell you that the water tastes quite different from non-filtered drinking water. But why does it taste that different? And what are the factors that influence the taste of the drinking water after it has been filtered? Let’s find out!

What Does RO Water Taste Like?

Most people will describe RO water as slightly acidic and flat. The reason why reverse osmosis water tastes like this is the lack of minerals in the water. Since the water is put through a semipermeable membrane, it also filters out minerals that naturally occur in drinking water.

Factors that affect RO water taste

While we already explained that the absence of minerals in reverse osmosis water can influence the taste. However, we have not looked into what causes specific tastes such as metallic, sour, or salty. Let’s find out.

Metallic taste

Most people who have a reverse osmosis system in their home will never experience a metallic taste. While a reverse osmosis system does provide RO water with a slight acidic taste, it is far from metallic.

If you have a reverse osmosis system already and you are getting RO water with a metallic taste, then you might have to execute a water test. Reverse osmosis for drinking water should eliminate a metallic taste, so it is a sign that your system might not be balanced properly. More specifically, it could mean your RO water has a low PH.

To counter this particular problem, you can counter the PH problem by replacing your filter or choosing a RO system that reintroduces certain minerals during the filtering process, which can in turn benefit the PH. So, be sure to consider RO systems that have the ability to do this.

Sour Or Salty Taste

When you notice some sour or salty tastes when drinking reverse osmosis water, it is a clear sign that your RO water contains increased levels of carbon dioxide. Contrary to the previous problem, this means that the PH value of your water is too high.

Rotten Egg Taste

Obviously, the rotten egg taste is the worst one to have. While they are rare with RO systems or any other filtration system for tap water, that does not mean they cannot occur.

Rotten egg taste is a clear sign of a problem with your RO system. In fact, it means your water contains high levels of sulfur. When there are high quantities of sulfur in your water, your reverse osmosis filter has a damaged membrane or filter. To resolve the problem, it could be best to replace the filter first. However, if the problem persist, you may have to replace your reverse osmosis system.

Tastes Like Regular Tap Water

Is reverse osmosis water tasting exactly like regular tap water? If so, it means that there is a problem with your system as well. If it tastes like regular tap water, it is an indicator that impurities are not being filtered out.

When your RO water tastes exactly like regular tap water, there is a clear problem with the RO membrane. In most cases, it means the RO membrane has ruptured or is damaged. Therefore, you may need to replace the membrane to resolve the issue.

Cooking with Reverse Osmosis Water

When cooking with reverse osmosis water to stop it from influencing the taste of your food, keep in mind that this also means less minerals. When you use this kind of water in cooking, your overall meal will have a reduction of up to 60% in magnesium and calcium. Other micro-compounds such as copper, cobalt and manganese can be reduced up to a whopping 85%.

Evidently, a balanced diet requires a good amount of vital minerals and vitamins. These include calcium and magnesium. With the minerals missing, it is vital to still get them in your diet elsewhere.

A lack of minerals in the water supply has been tested throughout several cities around the world, this in relation to public health. Numerous women were tested during this study, and it was found that those with low mineral diets were more likely to experience cardiovascular irregularities, headaches, and dizziness. Therefore, it can be a good idea to invest in an RO system that can reintroduce some of the missing minerals into the water before you start cooking with it.

Learn more: What is the pH of RO water?

What Does Water Taste Like?

Scientists described water as “tasteless” for a very long time. But is this really the case? The short answer to the question is no, because water can contain compounds that make the water have a particular taste. We briefly touched upon this subject earlier, but here is quick summary to explain why water can taste a certain way.


This is quite a common taste to have in water, mainly because your local water supplier uses chlorine as a disinfectant in drinking water. It is used in small amounts to make drinking water safe. However, the closer you live to the water supply, the stronger that chlorine taste will be.


A bitter taste is another common occurrence for your regular water. Bitterness is usually caused by copper in the water. This copper comes from copper plumbing, which brings the water to your home. It is really that simple.

Another potential cause of a bitter taste in water is a higher level of Zinc. High levels of zinc can also cause problems such as nausea. So, people who live in areas where there are high levels of Zinc often filter their water to avoid this problem.


This particular taste is associated with another taste we already mentioned, more specifically chlorine. Chlorine is actually naturally present in water before it gets added to the water supply. Nevertheless, this compound is added for disinfecting purposes as well, this makes the water safe to drink as it passes through the plumbing system. Higher levels of chlorine can give water a salty taste.

Another more worrying cause of salty water is sewage ending up in the drinking supply. Obviously, this does not happen often, but high salt levels can be a serious water sign. The sodium could come from human and animal waste, which contains higher levels of sodium and chloride. So, if your water tastes too salty, it might be best to avoid drinking it and getting in touch with your local water supplier for some reassurance.

Wet dog

While this is one of the more unpleasant tastes, it is also remarkably common. The so-called wet dog taste can be caused by a combination of metal plumbing, chemical treatments and organic compounds in the groundwater. While it is often safe to drink, this is a taste you need to get your water tested for.


Many people will find that the taste of their water can change considerably depending on the compounds that are naturally present in their groundwater. Evidently, this is why many people prefer to use water filters, so they have an alternative to bottled water without having to spend too much money over a longer period of time.

The most suitable water filter for your needs will be subject to the condition of the groundwater in your area. If you have weird tasting water caused by copper in your plumbing, then you should seek a filter that removes copper from water. On the other hand, if volcanic organic compounds are present in the water, a RO system will be the best filter for your needs.

To determine what the problem is with your drinking water, it is always best to do a test yourself. While you can find some general information from your local water supplier, you will find the test you can execute at home a lot more thorough than any general information you can find online.

But where do you buy these tests? Well, they are easily available online. You can find tests that will look for the most common compounds in your water supply, but you also have dedicated tests for substances such as herbicides and pesticides.

Tasting water and determining the overpowering taste can help you narrow down the most likely culprits and find the appropriate test to match. Getting clean and lovely tasting water is really that simple.

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