You have a squalling baby who wants that bottle NOW! You fill the bottle with hot water from the tap, and add formula. Happy baby, and both of you now have settled nerves. Question – did you ever wonder if it is safe to use hot water directly from the tap to make that bottle?

Many of our older homes contain lead pipes and/or fixtures, especially if the house was built prior to 1986. Even newer homes may have been built with piping that may contain lead. Hot water can dissolve contaminants such as lead, and carry them straight to your tap. Using the hot water from the tap can put lead into the baby’s bottle, and into your cooking and/or drinking water. Lead has been proven to cause damage to the brain and nervous system, especially in young children.

How can you guard against this contamination? The EPS recommends that only cold water be used for cooking and drinking. If the faucet has not been used for over six hours, flush the piping by opening up the faucet and let the water run until it is cold. It is also recommended that you consider replacing plumbing fixtures that may contain lead. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SWDA) states that only lead-free pipe, solder, or flux be used for the installation or repair of water systems used by the public. “Lead-free” means that the solders and flux that are used may not have more than 0.2 percent lead, and that pipe, pipe fittings, and well pumps contain no more than 8.0 percent lead. There are also SDWA standards set for kitchen and bathroom faucets. Beginning January, 2014, the SDWA standards will change to 0.25 percent, further lowering the amount of allowable lead content in the pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures used in the industry.

If may take a little more time to settle that unhappy baby, and it may take more time to boil water, but using hot water directly from the tap is not a good idea. The risk is small; yet, to be on the safe side, the EPA states that cold tap water should always be used for baby formulas, in cooking, and for drinking. Further information may be found at or you may call (800) 424-5323.


Written by Bruce Kramer