Recently we had a last minute backyard barbecue. My sister and her family had nothing to do, and neither did we. Since we literally live on the same block, and it was really hot out and we have a pool, they came on down for some swim time, and of course, food. We are Italian and we had to have food. Not just a little either. We had enough to feed half the block because well, you never know who else might decide to visit!
Anyway, thats not the point of this post. The point is that when my niece was filling the pot to boil the fresh corn I noticed that she was using the hot water to fill it so I said that she shouldn't be using the hot water out of the tap. And of course being a highly intelligent young lady she questioned me as to why. Naturally I was more than willing to share my reasoning with her but it started me thinking that maybe a quick post with some information for anyone who is interested in why would also be a good idea.
So why not consume hot tap water? This is really a personal choice and I personally choose not to drink it because I would rather be safe than sorry. The science teacher in me further solidifies this decision and I have taught my children to never consume hot tap water as well for three basic reasons (and in this precise order): lead, contaminants, and disease.
How old is your house? When was it built and what are the pipes made of? Just about any home or building built before 1986 has lead in the pipes unless they have been fully replaced. Even newer metal pipes have some lead in them. Read about this at the CDC.
I live in a house built in 1931 and I KNOW there is lead in these old pipes. Drinking the cold water without running it for a few minutes (5 is recommended) first would be foolish, but drinking the hot tap water would be even more foolish! Keep reading for the reason why...
Where does your water come from? Is it treated by a water company with chemicals or does it come from a private well? Do you have a filtration system in your home? If it is well water have you ever had the water tested for contaminants and particulate matter?
I have lived in both situations. Years ago I had well water and I paid to have it tested once a year. I also had a filtration system since we lived in an area where the water table was only 4' below the surface. Now I live in an area with a government run company that pumps up the groundwater, tests it, filters and treats it with chemicals as needed. Not ideal, but it is what it is. But either way, using hot water means that the contaminants and/or the added chemicals are more concentrated. Think about it: when you boil water only the water is steamed away. Everything else remains behind in whatever water still hasn't become steam. Simply put, the amount of contaminants stayed the same and the amount of water decreased. The heating that boiled some of the water created a greater ratio of contaminants to water. The same thing happens in the hot water tank. As the water is heated and some turns to steam, the amount of ratio of contaminants and/or added chemicals to hot water in the tank will be greater. When you use the hot tap water you will be getting water with a greater than average amount of contaminants.
Then if you cook with it the ratio of contaminants to water becomes even greater! Of course there are variable such as the temperature you keep the hot water tank set at, how often you use the hot water, how much hot water you use each time, etc. Me, I still prefer to be safer than sorrier. Oh yeah: and lead is considered a contaminant so that would mean there would be a greater concentration of lead in the hot tap water verses the cold.
Contaminants and Disease
How old is your hot water heater storage tank and how often do you use it? How long does the water sit in there heating up? An older tank releases potential contaminants into the tank. Some people say there is actually a sludge in the bottom. I am not sure if this is true or not, but why test the theory out? Maybe if I ever need the tank replaced I will open it up to get a look! But for now, I am not taking any chances.
The same goes for how often you use it. If your hot water sits for hours, or even days (or more if it is a vacation home) at a time in the tank this is just more opportunity for more water to boil away and the contaminants and chemicals to become even more concentrated. Sitting also allows molds and bacterias to grow in there. Some of the growth depends upon the temperature that you keep the water at, but it could be a potential problem that I don't even want to think about. Again, no thanks.
Do you live in a large apartment building? Or maybe you're away on vacation staying in a big hotel and just want a quick cup of hot tea. Don't do it! These types of buildings have huge water storage tanks with the potential for Legionaires disease according to the EPA.
I don't live in an apartment building but I have friends that do and I have stayed in many a hotel in my travels over the years. For me it is just something to remember and keep in mind during my visits and travels.
Those are my personal reasons for not drinking hot tap water in my home, or anywhere else for that matter. In my opinion, it's just not worth it to use it. Do you have any other reasons to add? I would love to hear from you! But remember, everything is a choice. I am not telling you not to drink hot tap water, just the reasons that I choose not to! The choice to drink it or not is yours!
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Hi there! I'm Kathie, the author behind Creating A Simpler Life blog. I'm excited to share our longterm projects (and planning) toward building our future retirement homestead in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. In the meantime I will be sharing all the other little things we do that are part of creating our simpler life!