Water, water everywhere, and not a drop worth drinking
April 7, 2010 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Why does the tap water in my apartment make me thirstier than I was before I drank it?

Whenever I drink water straight from the tap in my apartment, it ends up leaving me thirstier than I was before. It dries out my mouth, and I feel like I have to drink a lot more, which doesn't help. This doesn't happen when I run the water thru a Britta filter, and the thirsty-making effects are lessened if I put ice in the unfiltered water.

Possibly relevant information: I live on the top story of a 3-story building in Chicago. When the water comes out, it's very bubbly, and even if I leave a glass out for hours, there are thousands of tiny bubbles on the sides of the glass. The bubbles aren't as present in a glass of ice water.
posted by coppermoss to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is the ice you add to your drink made from tap water?
My guess would be maybe there is a higher sodium level in your water than normal.
Like when you eat salty snacks, you want more to drink.
posted by Andrea2880 at 10:38 AM on April 7, 2010

Wow, I totally know exactly what you're talking about! And usually from tap water vs filtered or bottled. I have no answers, though, except that it must be something the filter is removing. It just doesn't feel as "wet" from the tap, right?
posted by thebazilist at 10:44 AM on April 7, 2010

Is the water where you live soft? Maybe it's because I grew up in area with pretty hard water, but I find soft water astoundingly non-thirstquenching.
posted by desuetude at 10:45 AM on April 7, 2010

(Oh, and to clarify, I know that your Brita isn't going to put minerals into your water, but maybe whatever makes soft water taste so terrible to me is removed by a Brita?)
posted by desuetude at 10:47 AM on April 7, 2010

Does your building have a water softener? If so, it's softened with salt. I've always found softened water to be pretty brackish and not thirst quenching.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:50 AM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Just a drop or two of lemon (or any citrus juice really) immensely increases the thirst quenching effects of any water.
posted by Brent Parker at 11:04 AM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

It's got to be soft water -- whenever I'm at a hotel that uses that stuff, I always run out to the store and get my own drinking water.
posted by circular at 2:31 PM on April 7, 2010

I don't think it's a hard/soft water issue. Going by responses above, soft water should be the culprit...but Chicago has moderately hard lake water, and I really can't imagine your apartment is voluntarily softening it for you. On top of that, Brita filters allegedly remove hardness.

My best guess would be chlorine maybe? I believe those are the bubbles you see on the glass when you leave water out for a while, as the chlorine naturally dissociates from the water. (The bubbles when it first comes out of the tap are a different, physical phenomenon.) Does unfiltered water that's been left out (and therefore without chlorine) seem quenching?
posted by gueneverey at 4:05 PM on April 7, 2010

Unlike the people writing above, I come from a place where the normal, thirst-quenching water is soft, and spending time in places with hard water leads me to buy bottled water or a brita filter. According to wikipedia, "More than 85% of American homes have hard water. The softest waters occur in parts of the New England, South Atlantic-Gulf, Pacific Northwest, and Hawaii regions. Moderately hard waters are common in many of the rivers of the Tennessee, Great Lakes, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska regions." So I'll say that you've probably got hard water and this is why it's nasty and not thirst quenching. In SE England, where the water is very hard, a glass of water gets lots of little bubbles in it if left to stand; in my home it usually doesn't. I don't know what that's about, but to me 'bubbles from nowhere' (rather than 'bubbles straight out of the tap') suggests hard water that I don't want to drink unless I really have to.

'Artificially softened water' is something that does confuse me a bit; I spent quite a while in a location where chemical 'water softeners' were used to create something almost entirely unlike the kind of soft water I'd been used to at home, and bought a brita filter there, too. The chemicals used stopped scale formation in pipework and machinery but the tap water tasted horrible to drink, and the office kettle furred up incredibly fast. Without using filtered water I was having to empty bits of scale out of the kettle every day (or risk unwanted crunchy bits in my tea), with the filter -and everyone actually using it, good luck with that- it was ok for a week or so.
posted by Lebannen at 4:34 PM on April 7, 2010

Chicago water is quite good. The only place I've had better tap water is in New York City. Like drinking delicious gravy.

Now, that said, the water tastes different depending on which intake crib you are connected to, and the season. It can taste just a little bit fishy in the late summer. Also, they do go a bit heavy on the chlorine occasionally. I find it refreshing, but I'm a freak like that. If you are used to water with a lot of mineral content (river or well water), it can probably taste a little harsh and almost medicinal and yeah, drying. (Which is fine, when I am subjected to well water or Evian, it tastes like rusty nails to me. QSS)

Do the bubbles "reform" if you stir the water? Maybe they aren't bubbles, but tiny flakes of calcium.
posted by gjc at 6:54 PM on April 7, 2010

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