If you fill a glass of water and the color is amber, yellow, or brown and it has a musty odor, it probably has a high concentration of tannins. Approximately 42 million American homes are supplied with private well water and the water quality is the sole responsibility of the user. Tannins are removed at public water treatment plants, but they can find their way into aquifers and ultimately into your well water. In this article, we will take a closer look at tannins, how they affect water quality and what you can do to fix the problem.

What are Tannins?

Tannin is a term that you may have heard in relation to wine tasting, wine making, and as a stain that’s left behind by tea. Tannins are a naturally occurring organic compound that is found in plants and they are released into the wider environment during decomposition. In winemaking, the release of higher concentrations of tannins from grape seeds, stems, and skins will change the color of the wine. Longer pressing times and soaking will release more tannins which is how red wine is made. Wine drinkers will understand that the red wine can have a “drier” taste and this is related to higher concentrations of tannins. When it comes to drinking water tannins are considered to be a purely aesthetic problem and there are no health problems connected to its consumption. But, drinking water that contains tannins can have a tangy aftertaste and musty odor that most people cannot tolerate. The main problem with tannins is that they can affect other areas of your home that come into contact with your well water.

How Do Tannins Enter Well Water Supplies?

The water that flows into the aquifer that feeds your private well may travel through waterways and peaty soil that contain high concentrations of tannins. These organic compounds are very prevalent in marshy, swampy, and wetland areas where high volumes of decaying vegetation exist. The first thing that you may notice is a change in the color of your drinking water to a light yellow, amber, or light brown hue. The taste may be astringent and the water may have a musty decaying odor that’s hard to ignore. These characteristics are closely linked to the concentration of tannins present.

How Do Tannins Affect My Home?

Tannins pose no health risk, but they can dye your laundry, porcelain fixtures, dinnerware, and other surfaces. These dingy stains can be tough to remove and they will always return unless the tannins are removed from the water supply.

How Can I Remove Tannins?

Tannins can be hard to remove, and different wells in the same neighborhood can be affected in very different ways. So, there is no one-size-fits-all solution and professional water testing and advice are highly recommended. There are water treatment systems that use dedicated tannin filters to remove the organic particles. Contact your local water treatment specialist to schedule a water test and to explore your water treatment options.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.