If water is so important to us, why have we not developed a taste or smell for water?

A very interesting question!Evolutionary is sure what to say for your suggestion that we should be able to smell or taste water.

Water is very important to us.Like air, oxygen. Without oxygen we can only have a very short time. After, I thought, 5 minutes without oxygen you hit unconscious. In the water shortage, this is the order of magnitude of several days. Without food, with sufficient moisture, healthy people can endure it for weeks. Of course, they weaken but still live.

This makes your question even more interesting because we can also not smell or taste air.

Two of the most important substances and we cannot smell or taste them.

If you look very sharp you can taste water or even smell it, but then you have to do your best.

What we can reasonably do is find out if the water is clear and drinkable and also whether the air is clean and fresh. We notice contaminants quickly, although there are also contaminants that we do not see, smell or taste, this is sufficient to be able to drink water without tears, something similar to air plays.Other senses are better equipped for that matter.

I really do not think my answers are very strong.So a good or better answer to your question I don’t currently have.

Hopefully there are other Quora participants who know more about this.In the meantime, I think it is a good one.

Thanks for your nice question, always good to discover regularly that ‘ do not know ‘ also belongs to the repertoire.


Ps: Add a little thingy, sleep over.And especially the response from Lane Kuiler below. You can certainly taste Water. Kuiler gives some examples. I was very tipped, but I had little emphasis, doubting the answer to the question.

There might be something else going on.I think that the strong flavours we use nowadays have influenced our taste levels considerably. Once the (peppery, literally, Pepper was very costly) herbs and spices came into the country. And of course the use of salt, Maggi and what is not more.

Water is not able to withstand these strong flavours. I am confident that we will taste water a lot better if we use no or less spices.This is exactly what a family member, on salt ration, says: He now tastes ‘ lost ‘ flavours. And to my question he said: Indeed, I also taste water much better now.

The industry is indented and adds all sorts of flavors.Where I walk again with a big arch around it..

So you see again what a good question all can do.


A theory

We are water.

Evolutionarily We are so steeped in the properties of water that it is ingrained in our standard settings.Water and man is one. Water is the ‘ default state ‘ where we do all the other keys.

Water is the norm and therefore we do not smell and taste it and we observe only the deviations: taste, smell, clarity.Evolutionarily more convenient to observe the deviation of the norm than to check the whole norm.

So my theory is that the norm is ‘ ingrained ‘ and being able to observe the deviation from the norm helps us survive.

Because that would have been very awkward for us, just as small as air.

What water would you want to salt or sweet?

Bacteria rich or clean? What air would you like to smell with a lot of oxygen or little oxygen?

Remember the most fresh water is mineral water, there are a little bit of salts in it and a little minerals.Only drinking distilled water is not as very healthy as it seems. Remember our plasma also has salts. Consider what osmosis does with cells.

If a country is corkdry it is sufficient to smell the substance geosmin.The cauer of the smell petrichor. People can already smell that at less than 1 PBB.

You know enough that recently rain has fallen, the grass is green, there is wild and plenty of fresh water in creeks and rivers.And that’s what you want as a hunter and collector. Only smelling water in any form tells you nothing valuable.

I had to think about it here, I have to leave the question for a few days before I answer now.
I just write in another reply something about my other perception through my long experience with meditation.And now that I read this question again I know: although I cannot indicate it I know how water smells.

I suspect that in our present life the dependence on smelling water is much less important as other stimuli, and/or that we excite ourselves in a different way and therefore reduce our awareness of what is normal. But a large amount of water, a sweet lake where I used to be living in the neighborhood, you can definitely smell it.The same goes for a stream, like the streams in the Eiffel where we went on holiday. We can smell clean water, but we do not realise this.
And we know exactly how unhealthy water smells.

Incidentally, and I learned that from my wife:
I can’t smell the difference between a bad shellfish and a good shellfish (prepared in Thailand, so for me dominated with spices), but my wife picks that air out flawlessly.This strengthens my suspicion that this property is related to usefulness/necessity and habituation: I used to have a lot of water on the waterfront.

Because there is a lot of water vapour in breathed air.So people would always smell a very strong water smell and then that skill has no use.

An important point for evolution is necessity to survive.The species hominid, which is a member of the man, is descended from tree dwellers and thus fruit and leaves eaters. This means that our ancestors enter enough moisture without needing to search. Since we as Homo sapiens have the intelligence to use signals in our environment to achieve goals, for example find water when we are thirsty, we do not need to be able to taste or smell water. In addition, we also get a lot of fluids through our food, so we do not have to drink special too. That should only be when we get thirsty.

Furthermore, our senses are mainly intended to survive, so smelling something that is present everywhere in fruit and leaves, in prey, in the air, is evolutionarily pointless, it does not yield any benefit.

All these factors together lead to the fact that we cannot taste or smell water.However, as several answers have already been mentioned, we can smell pollution and the effects of water, such as the smell of rain. Because that is useful because there is food to be found that contains water.

Because otherwise you are often in a situation that you do not smell anything else.The smell of the typical smell of certain large carnivores is more important. Incidentally, alga is usually good to smell, and that is an indication that fresh water is nearby

By drinking small bits of something, the taste buds on the tongue or the scent can be said when we say to the water that we can drink safely from the water.Just scoop up still water: then you know that the water is not drinkable, I dare to bet when you close your nose and drink it that you will spit it back, by the taste buds. Where you might be referring to, for example, to find water in the Sahara? In addition, in a survival course, you’ll learn to use your senses to find water. Something that is so, but man no longer needs and is digested.

Water from the tap has a taste, but we often don’t have it.Pure water, without all the minerals that sit in tap water, is apparently very dirty. So We actually developed a taste for good water.

But, imagine all your water could smell and taste it.You are made of water and there is plenty of water in the air. So you will smell all day! This is evelutionair apparently not convenient.

Leave a Reply