Is Rusty Water Safe to Drink?

  • Posted on: 1 September 2010
  • By: mokshalom

I left for vacation and when I returned, the water coming out of my faucets was brown when it first came out of the pipe. While the water eventually became "clear" for the most part, My Brita water filter did not totally remove all the rust, and the water in the pitcher has been a bit cloudy.

Curious as to whether this water was safe to drink or not, I searched online and found the answer. Is rusty water safe to drink? The short answer is yes, unless you have an extremely rare condition where iron accumulates in the body organs.

From the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter:

Though rusty water may look and taste unpleasant—and possibly stain sinks and clothing—it is not a health concern (a possible exception is people with hemochromatosis, a rare disorder that causes excess iron accumulation in body organs). On its own, rust in water is not a sign of harmful bacteria or lead, which are hazards. In fact, the limits set by the EPA for iron in drinking water are based on aesthetics (taste, odor, color), not safety concerns.

So if you have brown water coming out of your pipes, drink on up! Well, not quite. It doesn't taste quite as good. You can try running cold tap water for 20 minutes to clear the rust out of the pipes.

If you want to read more, you might also find this article helpful.