Why Doesn't Water Taste of Anything

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Whilst sat around the dinner table, my little boy asked me why his drink of water didn’t taste of anything. Good question I thought.

So, why doesn’t water taste of anything? Well, water is a chemical substance composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. It has the well known chemical formula H2O. Pure H2O is tasteless and odourless.

However, water can dissolve numerous substances from our planet, giving it varying tastes (e.g. salty). Our tap water is treated to remove these substances and impurities (for example silt, traces of aluminium, iron, colour and other matter). In the UK chlorine is commonly used during treatment to disinfect the water in order to eliminate bacteria. And some water companies add extra fluoride to water supplies as a protection against tooth decay.

Bottled waters sold for drinking in Britain are typically either natural mineral water (not treated because it must be proven to be free from harmful pollution and have a ‘stable composition’) or spring water (from an underground source, must be microbiologically safe but can be treated).

But because both tap water and bottled water are not pure H2O (i.e. they have either been treated and/or have other substances within), it gains taste, albeit very slight to our taste buds. I guess one also ought to consider that people’s perception of taste can be very different…

If you would like to read more bite-size answers to commonly asked questions then please visit: www.butwhydad.co.uk


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