tap water

Londoners know that British tap water is rated among the best in the world in terms of quality, and it is safe to drink. Yet, some of them are hesitant to get rid of their plastic bottles. Safety reassurances don’t cover the “chalk” or “chemical” taste that tap water has.

I find London’s tap water really bitter.

Says Anna, who moved from Manchester to the capital in September. Sylvie adds:

I hate the flavour. I don’t even make soup or tea with tap water.

Where does this taste come from?

Tap water’s “chemical” taste is due to the chlorine used as a disinfectant in the water treatment process. The main reason why it tastes bad, however, is its high mineral content. Researchers call it “hardness“.

Water is naturally soft when it falls on the ground. If it lands in an area made by porous rock such as limestone, rainwater takes on natural minerals, such as calcium, potassium and magnesium. These minerals make water hard and give it its peculiar taste.

According to Thameswater.co.uk, 65% of London’s water comes from local rivers and 35% from natural underground reservoirs, meaning it passes through limestone several times. That’s why all the water in the capital is hard.

On the other hand, if the water falls on non-porous rock such as granite, it cannot penetrate the ground and tends to be soft. Scotland, Ireland and Wales in the main have soft water.

Are Scottish people luckier? Apparently not. Despite the distinctive taste, research suggests that hard water is not bad for our health. Calcium added to the water is even essential for healthy growth!

tap water
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

What if you really can’t stand tap water?

You can opt for a carbon filter such as TAPP 2 or ask for information when you are at the restaurant or at the pub. Some venues, in fact, have a water filter system.

Take a look at the graph below: 2.8 billion litres of bottled water were consumed in the UK in 2019… Does tap water’s bitter taste justify this huge waste of plastic?

BSDA Annual Report 2020, UK Soft Drinks Report, page 7.
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