Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Hot Water Hazards?
A friend uses hot water from the tap for cooking and even for making tea. She says it is perfectly safe. I think she’s wrong. Can you settle this argument?
Answer (Published 4/14/2008)

You win this one. You should never use hot water from the tap for drinking or cooking, and especially not for preparing baby formula. The main reason is that hot water is more likely to be contaminated by lead from pipes than cold water. Hot water can dissolve lead from corrosion in the pipes or from lead solder used in copper pipes more quickly than cold water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) most of the lead in household water comes from residential plumbing, not from the local water supply.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Your Whole Body - Foods, herbs and drugs can all interact, sometimes in unexpected ways. Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor takes known interactions into account when developing nutritional supplement recommendations, to help safeguard against adverse effects. Learn more, and get your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor recommendation today.

If your friend has children, she should know that lead poisoning is a serious child health issue. Lead in the body can cause mental retardation, and even low levels can slow a young child's development and cause learning and behavior problems. In order to reduce the amount of lead in your household water supply, be sure to flush your cold water pipes whenever a faucet hasn't been used for six hours or longer. The more time water has been sitting in the pipes, the more lead it may contain.

Even if your copper pipes were joined with lead-free solder, lead can leach from new brass faucets and fittings, according to the EPA. And lead is not the only concern here. Water sitting in hot water tanks is likely to contain other contaminants as well. And hot water dissolves more substances than cold. The EPA advises running the water until it becomes as cold as it will get before drinking it or using it in food. I recommend letting it run for three to five minutes.

I also advise having your water tested. Use an independent lab, not the free testing offered by companies selling water purifiers - it's not thorough enough. In addition to detecting the presence of lead, tests can reveal such contaminants as fecal coliform bacteria, fluoride, chlorine, arsenic, and nitrates, as well as parasites, other microorganisms, sulfates, herbicides, and pesticides. As far as lead is concerned, the EPA says that testing is especially important for residents of high-rise apartment buildings with lead-soldered central piping.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here