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Why My ZeroWater Tastes Like Lemon (Fix The Sour Taste)

Why My ZeroWater Tastes Like Lemon

Are you finding ZeroWater’s filtered water tastes sour?

It’s likely an indication that the filter life of the ZeroWater filter is over, and it’s time to replace it with a new filter.

ZeroWater advertises its filter life to be 40 gallons or 3-4 months, but it highly depends on the TDS of your incoming water. Replacing the ZeroWater filter after 1.5-2 months is best.

Continue reading for complete troubleshooting to fix the lemon smell from your ZeroWaterpitcher’s filtered water. 

🍋Why Does My ZeroWaterFilter Make My Water Taste Like Lemon or Fish?

ZeroWater filter pitcher uses ion exchange technology to remove contaminants to provide you with filtered water.

And one of the tradeoffs of this process is the fishy smell or lemony taste when the filter degrades.

But how this exactly happens?

Here’s a simple explainer:

The filter comprises ion exchange resin containing cations (positively-charged ions) and anions (negatively-charged ions) that absorb contaminants and replace them with hydrogen and hydroxide ions that combine to form pure water. 

So far, so good.

As you continue using the pitcher, the hydroxide ions are used up, leaving only hydrogen ions in the water. And the hydrogen ions impart the filtered tap water an acidic taste that tastes bad 🙄.

Another reason is that the impurities build up over time depending on the incoming water TDS, decreasing the filter’s efficiency and imparting the filtered water lemon-like taste. 

Finally, the cations and anions degrade over time, releasing substances that smell like decomposed fish (Trimethylamine).

Installing replacement filters in place of the old ones in time prevents this from happening. 

Note that a faucet mount filter uses carbon fiber technology, not ion exchange. So, they don’t normally produce lemon-like or any other acidic taste or fishy smell. 

🤔How To Fix ZeroWater That Tastes Like Lemon?

Here are the solutions to fix the ZeroWater pitcher’s lemon water taste:

🔄Replace Your ZeroWater Filter

Replace your ZeroWater filter with a new filter in any of the two cases:

  • You have filtered almost 40 gallons of water using your ZeroWater filter (depends on the water quality)
  • The attached water quality meter of your ZeroWater filter’s filtered water reads 006 

A ZeroWater filter’s lifespan gets decided by:

  • The amount of water you filter
  • The number of Total Dissolved Solids or TDS (including heavy metals, pesticides, and other contaminants) present within your home water. 

Here’s how you can replace the old filters with the new replacement ZeroWaterfilters:

  • Open the lid that covers the filter 
  • Now, remove the reservoir
  • Open the filter’s packaging, and then remove the blue cap with the help of a screwdriver. 
  • Check out the silicon ring and tighten it against the filter if you find it loose.  
  • Place the filter firmly upon the reservoir’s bottom and tighten it to seal it completely. 
  • Never choose the upside position to place the filter within the reservoir 
  • Settle the top reservoir within the ZeroWater filter pitcher as before, close the lid, and check if the system is filtering cold water efficiently. 

🥛 Avoid Hot Water

Anions in ion exchange resin degrade faster in warm or hot water, so it’s advised not to filter hot water through the ZeroWaterfiltration process.

So it is because studies suggest ion exchange resins are sensitive to temperature, and warm or hot water can reduce their treatment efficiency

🚰Rinse Your Filter

ZeroWater filters can produce a bad smell from the filtered water, just like rotten fish (because of the release of Trimethylamine by the decomposed anions) if the filters are not rinsed properly.

This Trimethylamine becomes hard to wash when it gets layered on the machine’s plastic material.

So, whenever you experience a lemon taste or fishy smell from the filtered tap water of your ZeroWater pitcher, do the following:

  • Open the various parts of the ZeroWater pitcher, including the spigot.
  • Put the parts of the ZeroWater filter pitcher under a tap and wash them using tap water. Take the help of regular dishwashing soap and not any bleach.
  • Rinse the parts with the help of tap water and wipe them using paper towels. 
  • Dry all of them out. 
  • Now, assemble all the parts and filter to return the ZeroWater pitcher to its previous shape.  
  • Check if the ZeroWater system is properly filtering water, as expected. 

🛂Ensure Your Pitcher Is Working Properly

You can use a TDS meter to check if your ZeroWater pitcher works properly. 

Simply do a before and after tap water test to tell the difference.


ZeroWater pitcher is also good for incoming tap water with chlorine. It effectively removes 99% chlorine from tap water.

Alternatively, you can also check out reverse osmosis systems for chlorine removal.

🔲 How Long Does a Zerowater Filter Last?

Though a ZeroWater filter advertises to filter 40 gallons of drinking water, the lifespan of your ZeroWater filter will rely on the TDS of your incoming tap water. 

For example, if your incoming tap water’s TDS is 300, the pitcher filter lasts only 30-35 gallons. With over 400 TDS, you must replace the pitcher filter with a new filter every week or less.

On average, a ZeroWater filter lasts 1-2 weeks with average municipal incoming water. 

📜 ZeroWater Tastes Like Lemon: FAQs

✌ Why does my ZeroWater filter only last 2 weeks?

There can be two reasons why your ZeroWater filter lasts for only two weeks:

1. Your incoming tap water has more than 200 TDS. 
2. You are using the ZeroWater filter more than average. 

Although ZeroWater advertises its filter life to be 40 gallons, it highly depends on your incoming tap water TDS.

If your ZeroWater requires frequent replacements, looking for alternatives like bottled water or reverse osmosis is better.  

🐡 Why does my ZeroWater filter water taste like fish?

If your ZeroWater filter’s drinking water tastes like fish, it means the anions inside the ion exchange resin are degrading, and you must replace your filter with a new filter.

The degrading anions release Trimethylamine, the same compound released during the decomposition of dead fish.

🥤 Why does my ZeroWater taste like plastic?

If you use filters from a different manufacturer in ZeroWater pitcher, you must wash them in cold tap water for a few hours (say, 1-2 hours) before use.

Otherwise, the filtered water might taste like plastic. If your ZeroWater tastes plastic, it might also mean that the filter or the components need changing. 

However, your degrading plastic pipes can also be the culprit, so cross-check that first.

🙄 Do I need to soak my ZeroWater filter before use?

No, as the ZeroWater filters’ packaging states that their water filters are all pre-washed, you don’t need to rinse your ZeroWater filter or the machine before using it.

Instead, remove the water filter from the box and fit it within your ZeroWater system. 

However, if you purchase a water filter from any other local manufacturer for your ZeroWater system, washing it for atleast 1-2 hours is a must before using it to avoid plastic taste and smell.

🤒 Can ZeroWater make you sick?

No, ZeroWater will never make you sick, as the ZeroWater pitcher removes the most harmful TDS from incoming water and protects you from harmful contaminants. 

However, if not changed in time, the ZeroWater filters may sicken you with unwanted fishy, lemon-like, or plastic taste and smell.

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