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What Effect Does Carbon Dioxide Have on Tap Water?

Fact checked by Stephen Conklin

what effect does carbon-dioxide have on tap water

What effect does carbon dioxide have on tap water? Carbon dioxide is everywhere. It’s the stuff that plants breathe in to give out oxygen, and oxygen is what we breathe in so we can stay alive. Simple as that.

But with the ongoing concern of climate change and the Earth heating up, carbon dioxide has now been seen as the enemy. There’s too much of it – heating the planet and getting into our water. Should we be worried about something that we breathe out every day?

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What Is Carbon Dioxide Made Of?

Often referred to by its formula, CO2, carbon dioxide is a chemical compound composed of one carbon and two oxygen atoms.

It plays a significant role in the carbon cycle (photosynthesis – decomposition – respiration – combustion) and acts as a greenhouse gas in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide is colorless and odorless. The naked eye can’t see it, but there are tests to prove that it’s present. Although it’s harmless in small amounts, inhaling too much of it will make you nauseous.

Where Does Carbon Dioxide Come from?


A trip down memory lane to your elementary science class would tell you that carbon dioxide comes from humans and animals. Humans inhale oxygen and exhale CO2 in a process called respiration.

Similarly, microorganisms also emit carbon dioxide during fermentation and cellular respiration. Since it’s gas, carbon dioxide naturally goes up into the air and stays in the atmosphere.

When the industrial age kicked in, there was a sudden demand for powerhouses for energy. Burning large amounts of coal, oil, and natural gases paved the way for development and industrialization and caused a dramatic increase in CO2 emissions.

The amount of carbon dioxide that humans and animals exhale pales compared to the emissions that large energy companies give off into the atmosphere. Fossil fuels provide about 80% of our energy, and it is the main reason for air and water pollution.

Today, we acknowledge the colossal amounts of CO2 emissions to be a worldwide emergency. In 2017 alone, the global emissions of energy-related carbon dioxide were about 32.5 billion metric tons.

How Does Carbon Dioxide Get into My Tap Water?

According to this article, only about half of the carbon dioxide emissions stay in the atmosphere. The other half makes its way back to lands and oceans through rainfall.

Some groundwater also manages to pick up trace amounts of carbon dioxide as it flows through decaying plants. Eventually, all this carbon dioxide will collect into your local water sources.

 What Happens When Carbon Dioxide Reacts With Water?

Carbon dioxide is water-soluble when pressure is maintained. When the pressure drops, carbon dioxide escapes into the air. You can see this as bubbles forming on the surface of the water.

When carbon dioxide reacts with water, it decreases the water’s pH level. Water has a pH level of 7, dropping to 3 or 4 when carbon dioxide comes into the picture. This phenomenon makes the water a little bit more acidic – turning the water into carbonic acid, or what’s commonly known as carbonated water.

Can the Carbon Dioxide In my Tap Water be Removed?

Your standard tap water won’t be fizzing into your home with carbon dioxide as it usually gets neutralized before it gets there. Remember that the opposite to the acid portion of the pH scale is alkaline. The carbonic acid in the water is usually balanced by the alkalinity of the minerals already there.

However, some water sources do not have enough alkaline salts to balance out the carbonic acid they may contain. The simplest method to remove it would be to pass the water through a tank containing limestone chips. This process can also occur naturally when the water passes through a limestone formation, buffering carbonic acid’s effect and making the water’s pH more balanced.

What Happens if I Drink Water with Carbon Dioxide?


Have you ever had a fizzy drink? Or a soda? That right there is water with carbon dioxide – usually with added flavoring. As you’re probably aware by now, sipping the fizzy stuff is fine. A relief, even especially if you have a terrible case of indigestion.

When you drink carbonated water, the prickly sensation in your mouth is just your mouth releasing enzymes in reaction to the slight acidity. The receptors in your taste buds get excited, which is normal and quite enjoyable.

There is a misconception that carbonated water causes the enamel in teeth to erode. Fortunately, this isn’t the case. Carbonic acid is a weak acid and will not harm the human body as long as it is ingested in regulated portions.

This article explains that while some carbonated drinks have been linked to dental problems, the leading cause is not the carbonic acid itself but the added sugar. You’re more likely to get tooth decay from a sports drink loaded with sugar than you will from a bottle of fizzy water.

 How Does Carbonated Water Affect My Body?

While carbonated water is mainly harmless, it can lead to some uncomfortable moments if drunk in excess. According to this article, ingesting carbonated water could make you bloat and give you gas – especially if you’re prone to stomach problems.

It could also overstimulate your hunger hormone (ghrelin), which, in effect, will have you eating more than you should. It’s recommended that you steer clear from sugary carbonated drinks, as these are the ones that are most likely to give you teeth, stomach, and bone problems in the long run.

Overall, carbonated water has its pros and cons. A nice tall glass of soda is nice, but remember to take it in moderation.

CO2 is Here For You.

From the highest point of the atmosphere down to the bottom of your lungs – carbon dioxide takes up a large portion of your life. It’s everywhere, even in your tap water.

The amount of CO2 that gets in your water shouldn’t worry you too much. Human bodies can handle carbon dioxide in average amounts. The excess that’s clogging up the atmosphere is worrying, though, but that’s for another article.

I hope you’ve gained helpful knowledge from this post about “what effect does carbon dioxide have on tap water.”

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