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It's a wide spread belief in India (Ayurveda) that drinking water stored in copper ware (like copper jugs and pots) is better for health.

There's even a website about it: Dr. Copper's "Scientifically & Ayurveda Recommendations"

Sanskriti Magazine in Why copper was used by our ancestors relates it to immunity and fertility.

But the Minnesota Department of Health article Copper in Drinking Water Health Effects and How to Reduce Exposure says that water from copper pipes leads to copper poisoning.

Is drinking water from copper ware good for your health or does it make itworse?

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    Copper as a trace element is essential for the body to function. Too little copper leads to copper deficiency, while too much copper is toxic. This seems rather well documented. So you'd be looking to keeping your intake of copper between "necessary" and "detrimental". As with everything, the poison is in the dosis. In general I would say, it's probably a bad idea to increase your intake of an element known to be toxic in higher concentrations. – DevSolar Nov 30 '16 at 14:47
  • @DevSolar I guess the real question is, how much copper gets into the water just by storing it in a copper container, and for how long. I guess one would need to really dig into the literature to answer this. :) – JasonR Nov 30 '16 at 15:54
  • When working with water purification, distilled water is typically high in copper because of the condensing tubes. This is bad for aquariums, for example, so it isn't used. Like @DevSolar said, humans do need copper, but you can get too much. The point I'm making is that copper in water is not unusual in the first place, and you do need it, but there is risk of toxicity. – fredsbend Nov 30 '16 at 17:41
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    @jason It also matters what's in the water in the first place. I would bet low pH water is more reactive with a copper container than high pH, therefore it would contain more after a time. – fredsbend Nov 30 '16 at 17:43
  • Humans are not the only organism of interest here. Water as a disease vector is a concern for many Indians. Even if storing water can lead to iffy levels of copper for humans that might not out weight poisoning microbes. – user36688 Nov 30 '16 at 19:30
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Copper in the water is not a problem. In fact, in moderation it is necessary for your health. In the United States, a lot of homes use copper plumbing. However, the concentration of copper can be an issue, and letting water sit in copper containers is, in fact, a risk. The average concentration of copper in tap water in the US is between 20 to 75 parts per billion. It can even range up to over 1000 parts per billion.

To avoid copper toxicity, the concentration of copper in drinking water should be kept below 1300 parts per billion. Tap water can get a high concentration of copper from the water sitting in the pipes overnight. This is what leads me to believe that storing water in copper vessels could be a bad idea. Children under one year old and people with Wilson's disease are even more sensitive to the effects of copper, and keeping the copper concentration below 1300 parts per billion is not enough.

Water stored in a copper container reaches 180 parts per billion in about 16 hours. This amount will vary depending on conditions and the amount of copper already present in the water.

Corrosive water and hot water can also lead to higher concentrations of the copper being absorbed.

Over time copper does form a natural coating that prevents as much leaching into the water, but this does not prevent it completely.


OPINION: Based on this information, I would advise against storing water in copper containers at all. If an older container that has had time to develop a coating is used, and the water is not left to sit in it overnight, there may be less risk for the average person--but I would definitely not use this with children under one year of age or those who have Wilson's disease.


The ideal solution would be to test your water for the level of copper and ensure that it is safe.

Sources:

  • At what rate does copper leach into water from pipes? What rate from a copper container? What affects these rates? Where does the 1300 ppb figure come from? How much lower should it be to avoid toxicity in children and those with Wilson's? I'm afraid this answer is largely speculation. – iamnotmaynard Nov 30 '16 at 20:14
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    @iamnotmaynard I added a baseline for the rate of leeching. "How much lower should it be to avoid toxicity in children and those with Wilson's?" For that you have to ask a doctor. – called2voyage Nov 30 '16 at 20:23
  • @iamnotmaynard For the significance of the 1300 ppb figure: "A reference dose (RfD) is an estimate of the amount of a chemical that a person can be exposed to on a daily basis that is not anticipated to cause adverse health effects over a lifetime." For more info, see here. – called2voyage Nov 30 '16 at 20:28

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