me I can’t think of anything that makes me feel more like a character in downton abbey than the little glass water pitcher I have on my nightstand. It’s a deep blue clear glass bottle with cute ridges and a cup that doubles as a lid. I usually fill it every other day and rinse it with warm soapy water when I do.
However, when I forget that sacred step of frequently rinsing my water pitcher or leaving the lid open overnight, it becomes extremely obvious the moment I take a sip before bed. Does the water taste stale, slightly bitter, and distinctly musty? bleach-It’s not fun.
If this has ever happened to you, you know it can be the exact opposite of a pleasurable, thirst-quenching moment of hydration. Believe it or not, there’s a reason your glass of water tastes weird when you leave it outside for a few hours or all day, and it’s… pretty gross.
Why does your glass of water taste weird?
“When tap water sits overnight, it is exposed to air, which allows carbon dioxide, which is present in the air, to dissolve into the water,” says Kelly Johnson-Arbor, MD, a physician at the emergency room, toxicology specialist and the medical director of the National Capital Poison Center: “Carbon dioxide is converted in our body into carbonic acid by an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase. Carbonic anhydrase also converts carbonic acid into carbon dioxide”.
Translation? The longer the water sits, the more acidic compounds develop in it that change the taste over time. The acidic taste of carbonic acid is what gives your glass of H2O that distinctly stale taste when you drink it after sitting overnight. “When there is an excess of carbon dioxide in drinking water, we taste more carbonic acid, since the carbon dioxide is converted to carbonic acid by carbonic anhydrase. The increased acidity of the water is what causes the water to have a bitter or rancid taste,” he says. Dr. Johnson-Arbor.
Good to know: “The bad taste we get from CO2 exposure is unpleasant but No dangerous for our health. A bigger concern is bacterial growth: If you drink from a glass and then let it sit overnight, bacteria present in the glass can build up and potentially cause dangerous health effects,” says Dr. Johnson-Arbor. It’s best not to let drinks or water sit out for long periods of time, which she defines as more than a few hours.
Incidentally, this phenomenon of carbonic acid-induced taste change is not unique to water. There are also medications that affect the level of carbonic anhydrase in our body; this includes the drugs acetazolamide (Diamox) and dorzolamide (Trusopt), according to Dr. Johnson-Arbor. Because these medications can cause abnormal levels of carbonic acid in the body, they can also cause taste disturbances, similar to the way water tastes better. blegh after sitting outdoors. Putting a lid on it or using a sealed water bottle instead can help prevent some of those off-flavors, as well as potential bacteria growth.
Now, did you know this when I picked out a glamorous decanter that came with a trusty lid? No. Now do I feel even better about the wasteful purchase? Absolutely.
How to keep your water tasting great
Of course, a simple way to ensure you always have a glass or pitcher of great-tasting water is to replace the water as often as possible (ideally, this should happen every time you go for a drink) and to make sure you clean the containers daily. .
Keep in mind that it’s more common for people to reuse, and ahem, not wash, water bottles than cups. But again: Both should be cleaned between uses and not allowed to sit for more than a few hours so bacteria don’t have a chance to grow and thrive.
“Temperature also has effects on taste. Cold water makes our mouths feel more ‘wet’ and therefore may be more pleasant to drink than warm water,” says Dr. Johnson-Arbor. So she is careful not to let the temperature of the water mask the taste caused by carbonic acid or bacterial growth.
TL; DR? Getting a fresh glass of water for yourself in the morning, instead of going for that two-day cup on your nightstand, can protect you from a flat taste of C02 Y additional bacteria that have had some time to replicate. Does that mean I’m getting rid of my precious decanter? Definitely not, but catch me I still wash it daily.