When you turn on your faucet and expect to see clear, drinking water come out, it can be disconcerting to instead see cloudy or even whitish-green water. What’s going on? Is your water safe to drink? Will this weird color taint your clothes when you do the laundry? The short answer is yes, probably. Water that is cloudy or has sediment in it is generally not harmful; in fact, it’s almost always a sign of healthy watersheds. However, if you are concerned about the safety of your tap water, there are some things you should know as well as some precautions you can take to protect yourself and your family. Read on for more information about why your tap water might be clouding up and what you can do about it.
Why is My Tap Water Cloudy?
Cloudy water results from high levels of dissolved minerals, such as magnesium and calcium, in your water supply. The most common cause of cloudy water is hard water. Hard water contains excessive amounts of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, which can lead to cloudy water.
What Causes Water To Cloud Or Turn Colored?
When water flows over the ground where there are rocks and soil, small particles may get trapped and end up in your water source. This is known as sediment. Sediment can come from erosion, minerals, metals, and organic compounds like leaves, twigs, and even decaying animals. If your water source is near a construction site or other natural site with a lot of sediment, it is likely that this will end up in your drinking water. When sediment is allowed to settle at the bottom of storage tanks, water treatment plants, pipelines, and water distribution systems, it may clog filters and cause an increase in bacteria growth. Sediment usually isn’t harmful to drink but it can affect the taste of your water. Sediment is one of the most common causes of discolored water. If your water is discolored and has sediment at the bottom, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s unsafe to drink as sediment can be removed through a filtering process.
Tannins are a type of organic compound that is found in many types of vegetation, particularly in trees. You might have heard about them if you have ever tried to brew tea before. While most types of tannins aren’t harmful, they can discolor water and make it taste bitter. This occurs when leaves and other organic materials fall into the water source, like a lake. Tannins are a common cause of discolored water, particularly in lakes. They’re also known to turn water red, particularly in areas where there are a lot of oak trees. If you notice that your water is tannin-colored, there’s no need to worry. Tannins aren’t harmful and can be removed from water through a filtering process.
Bacteria thrive in murky water. In fact, a single teaspoon of water can contain millions of bacteria. Bacterial growth is a common cause of discolored water. When water sits stagnant in a water tank or somewhere else, bacteria can multiply and increase their numbers to such an extent that they can change the color of the water as well as make it taste bad. If your water has a strong chemical or metallic taste and smells a little funny, there’s a chance that it is contaminated with bacteria. Bacteria is harmful if ingested. While you may be able to remove discoloration from water through a filtering process, it is not recommended that you drink water that is contaminated with bacteria. Bacteria can be removed from water through a filtering process.
Organic compounds are naturally occurring substances that are found in almost all types of water. There are many different types of organic compounds, but the two most common are dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and humic acids. Organic compounds get into the water when leaves and other decaying materials fall into the water source. Organic compounds are not harmful and they don’t change the color of the water. They are more responsible for changing the taste of water. Organic compounds make water taste different depending on the type of compounds present in the water. You can usually taste them in your water if the taste is similar to that of a garden or a meadow. Organic compounds may also cause your water to have a brown or yellow color. If your water is discolored but doesn’t have a noticeable taste or smell, it is likely that it is contaminated with organic compounds. Organic compounds can be removed from water through a filtering process.
Chemicals can be found in almost every natural water source. Chemicals can come from a number of different sources. Chemicals can be naturally occurring and found in nearly all water sources, or they can be added by humans. Chemicals are often used in agriculture and industrial processes. Farmers use fertilizers to help grow healthy crops, and industries use chemicals for a variety of reasons, such as for industrial or construction purposes. Any of these chemicals may end up in water sources, particularly if the water doesn’t have proper filtration systems in place that can catch sediment and other particles that contain chemicals.
Is My Tap Water Safe To Drink When It Looks Like This?
Yes. Absolutely. The short answer is yes, probably. The long answer is yes, but there are some things you should know as well as some precautions you can take to protect yourself and your family.
- The first thing you should know is that water that is cloudy or has sediment in it is generally not harmful.
- This cloudy water is almost always a sign of healthy watersheds, meaning that your water source is not contaminated and is not a source of disease.
- That said, there is some risk of contamination. While water that is cloudy or has sediment in it is not dangerous, it can pose a risk to your household appliances like washing machines and dishwashers.
- Minerals in water can build up on the inside of appliances like these and cause problems, so it’s important to take precautions.
How To Make Your Water Clearer?
Add Some Bleach (Carefully)
Bleach is a great way to quickly make your water clearer. The key is to add it to your water before you drink it. You can use a ratio of 4 parts water to 1 part bleach (or a ratio of 4:1). Once the bleach is added to the water, you’ll want to let it sit for at least 30 minutes before you use it. This gives enough time for the bleach to break down and become safe to drink. Be sure to use only regular bleach and not any other type of bleach or cleaning product. You’ll want to use a standard cleaning strength bleach for the best results. While this option is effective, it does come with a few drawbacks. For starters, bleach is not very healthy to consume. It’s important to follow the 4:1 ratio to ensure that it has broken down to a safe level before you drink it. It’s also important to store it properly to ensure that children or pets don’t accidentally ingest it.
Try a Natural Option
Another option that you can try to make your water clearer is to add a few natural ingredients to it. You can try adding ingredients like baking soda, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar to your water to help break down the impurities and make the water more clear. However, you’ll want to be careful about the amount of baking soda you add as it can raise the pH levels and affect the taste of the water. Adding lemon or apple cider vinegar to your water is a great way to add flavor without adding sugar or flavorings. This is a great option for those who are trying to be healthier and drink more water. These ingredients will help to break down the impurities in your water and make it appear much more transparent. It’s important to note that these ingredients will take time to work so you’ll want to make sure to leave your water sitting for a few hours before you drink it.
Should You Be Concerned About The Color Of Your Tap Water?
- As long as you’ve been trying to get your water to clear up but it hasn’t, you can rest assured that the problem isn’t your water source.
- However, if you’ve been actively trying to get your water to clear up and it hasn’t, you may want to call your water provider to see if they can help you determine the cause of the issue. If your water is still cloudy even after 24 hours, it’s possible that you have a water treatment issue.
- When this happens, the water will be temporarily diverted so that the facility can attend to the problem. In the meantime, the water will sit in the source, slowing evaporating minerals and causing them to fall back into the water, creating a mineralized solution that causes cloudiness.
In most cases, when you turn on the tap and see cloudiness or discoloration in your water, it’s a sign that your watershed is healthy. However, in some cases, water can become harmful and even turn pink when there is a high concentration of iron in it. Therefore, if you notice that your water is discolored, it’s a good idea to call your city or water treatment plant and ask them about it.