Health & Wellbeing

Is it safe to drink warm water from the tap?

People get confused about drinking warm water from the tap on hot days – when it’s safe, what to know and what is true versus an urban myth. An expert corrects the record ahead of summer.

Professor Oliver Jones, Professor of Chemistry and Deputy Director of the RMIT Effective Technologies and Tools Research Centre

“People may have heard the advice not to drink hot water straight from the tap.

“This is said because hot water can dissolve minerals from the pipes better than cold, and also as bacteria tend to grow better in warm water.

“Although there is only a very small risk, it can be reduced further by drinking from the cold tap.

“However, people should ideally only drink from the kitchen tap rather than the shower or bathroom taps – and definitely not the garden hose.

“If people are worried about things growing in their taps in summer, a good tip is to run the water for 10 seconds or so – which will flush anything that’s been sat there for a while.

“Some people also worry about water contaminated by disinfection by-products – which can occur when disinfectants, like chlorine, interact with natural organic materials in water. But these are very strictly monitored. In a study a few years ago, an RMIT PhD student found the levels of disinfection by-products in Melbourne tap water were almost non-existent.

“Either hot or cold water will keep you hydrated, and Melbourne has some of the best drinking water in the world.”

Oliver Jones is a Professor of Chemistry, Deputy Director of the RMIT Effective Technologies and Tools (WETT) Research Centre and internationally recognised expert in analytical chemistry. He is passionate about using science to keep our environment safe.
Read more in Jones’ The Conversation article,  Is cold water bad for you? What about drinking from the hose or tap? The facts behind 5 water myths