Have you noticed that water tastes better at night? When we taste water, it does have a specific taste. But there are no specific taste buds for water on the tongue. The reason we can taste it is that we change the concentration of salt on the tongue. Also, water has different minerals: calcium, magnesium, potassium, etc.
All this chemical makeup of your specific saliva makes water taste different to one person than it does to another person. But the purer the water, the fewer dissolved ions it has, and the more bitter or different tasting the water will taste.
Why does water taste better at night?
The ground is the primary source of water, where water is away from daylight and heat. So it can keep its naturality and purity. During the nighttime, we can create the ground environment where light and heat are absent. Water tastes better at night due to 3 main reasons: thirst, coldness, and saltiness. All these reasons are related to each other.
Cold water tastes better than hot water. During the daytime, the sun and other heat sources remain active. So, water can not cool sometimes and adequately absorb heat which makes water taste bad. At night or darkened room, the absorbed daylight ions replace by heavier nighttime ions. So water can remove heat and keep cool.
Water is good at dissolving many substances, including gases. At night, water gradually absorbs some carbon dioxide from the air. The water and carbon dioxide molecules react with each other to form carbonic acid. It lowers the temperature and pH of the water, making it a slightly acidic taste.
Dehydration makes us thirsty. At night, we take our largest meal. So our body needs a huge amount of water, which creates dehydration. When we dehydrate/thirsty, our whole body craves water. So drinking water at this time feels tasty and refreshing psychologically. Also, when we are thirsty, our saliva remains tiny amount. Saliva dissolves with water and affects a bad taste. So less saliva makes the water tastier.
Due to heavy meals, the sodium intake is high at night, making us thirsty. So, at this time, water tastes better. Let’s talk about how taste works. Our tongue has about 10,000 taste buds. Those taste buds can sense five tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and savory umami. To taste something, your food has to dissolve into your saliva. Then those small molecules (sugar or salt) dissolve into your taste buds, get absorbed there, and attach to taste receptors.
Once they’ve attached there, that’s when you get the sensation of taste. But it turns out that water doesn’t have any taste receptors. So it should mean that water doesn’t taste anything! That’s wrong. For example, scientist Linda Bartok’s book exposes people’s tongues to a continuous concentration of 0.5% table salt.
After around one minute, she stopped the test and then had them drink water with 0.5% sodium chloride or salt. The people couldn’t tell there was any salt in there. So their tongue adapted to the environment of a 0.5% salt concentration. They weren’t able to taste salt after that.
So once you’re adapted to a specific taste and increase the concentration of that taste, it will taste more intense than if you hadn’t been adapted to the taste. Once you’ve been exposed to 0.5% salt for a minute, you take a break and drink a lower concentration. It has a different taste altogether. So every person has adapted to the saliva in their mouth, so they don’t taste it anymore.
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