Though not as important as safety and cleanliness, the aesthetic qualities of drinking water are significant, too. After all, there is no reason to suffer through consuming water that tastes or smells unpleasant if there is an alternative easily available. Water that is cloudy or discolored, even if ‘officially safe,’ is off-putting, and you will undoubtedly be reluctant to drink it at all. Removing aesthetic contaminants is one of the easier tasks that modern water filters can accomplish, performing this function almost as a byproduct of their other filtration effects.
Filtered water tastes much better than tap water in many cases – fresh, clean, pure, and refreshing. It may also exhibit superior flavor to bottled water. Bottled water, which has been sealed up in a cheap plastic envelope that leaches chemicals into its liquid contents, often has a slight but rather disgusting sickly sweet taste or may have a stale, “papery” flavor.
Many good brands of bottled water simply come from someone else’s municipal water supply, so you’re essentially exchanging one kind of tap water for another. Remember too that there are no regulations governing the safety of bottled water, you have to drink it on faith.
Filtering water used for cooking produces better, cleaner flavors in the kitchen, too. Used in culinary preparation, filtered water does not alter the taste of liquid or semi-liquid foods to which it is added. Broths, soups, and stews benefit the most from this effect.
The absence of unwanted tastes makes beverages made with water, including coffee, tea, espresso, cocoa, and various juice drinks more palatable, too. Even strong-tasting sauces will be improved by using clean filtered water rather than the liquid that brings its baggage of tastes and smells along with it.
Some of the pollutants that even modestly engineered home water filters remove for better taste include:
- Sand usually doesn't affect the taste much, but it can give water a gritty texture or make it look cloudy and impure.
- Silt and sediment, which are finer than sand, are the chief culprits of low aesthetic quality in drinking water. Their effects are quite varied, depending on what their composition is and whether they have absorbed organic compounds or chemicals before finding their way into the water stream. At times you will not even be able to detect the presence of silt until you begin using a filter and discover the elements covered after a week or two.
- Some silts and sediments do no more than giving the watercolor – usually yellowish or faintly brown –, but they often make it smell bad or taste bad, also, or both. These odors and tastes are not dangerous in themselves, but they certainly make the water undesirable from the viewpoint of the drinker.
- Rust is a major problem in some areas. This makes reddish-brown water, which can cause diarrhea in some vulnerable people if it is thickly concentrated enough. In any case, rust gives the water a foul metallic taste and smell, but a good water filter removes this and many other contaminants to produce a much more pleasing beverage and culinary ingredient.