Does Your Hose Provide Clean Water For Birds?

Last Updated on July 8, 2020 by NWBirdTop

Homemade Birdbath & Camco Hose (with a Sprayer Attached)
Homemade Birdbath & Camco Hose (with a Sprayer Attached)

Birdbaths are popular with all birds, even birds that otherwise wouldn’t visit a bird feeder. They are a great addition to your back yard. Watching a small flock of American Goldfinches lining up around the rim to drink or an American Robin taking a bath is a joyful experience. Because birdbaths are located outside, one common way to fill them is to use a garden hose. But is your hose actually providing healthy clean water for the birds? You may be surprised to find that it is not!

Needing a Longer Hose

This spring we planted some bird-friendly bushes in the yard. I found I needed a new hose to water plants were further out in the yard. Being an analytical sort at heart, I did a little online research about hoses. Beyond the perpetual debate over whether this hose or that hose is truly non-kinking, I researched different types of hoses. I looked at how they are made and the pros and cons of various types. In the process, one type of hose caught my eye, a drinking water hose.

Typical Hoses Leach Toxic Chemicals

I learned that the typical garden hose leaches toxic chemicals and lead into the water that runs through it, especially when left out in hot sun. (Check out this interesting article on “Hazardous Chemicals Found in Garden Hoses.”) This is why, when you purchase a typical garden hose, you’ll see a tag warning not to drink from it or use it to provide water to pets.

Oh wow! It had been a very long time since I’d purchased a garden hose, so I hadn’t considered this at all when filling my birdbaths. If hose water isn’t good for people and pets, my guess is it isn’t great for feathered yard visitors either.

Supposedly this water is okay or things like watering the lawn or a newly installed tree or bush. But if you have a home garden, do you really want to water your herbs and vegetables with lead and chemical tainted water? And providing the birds with a chemical and water cocktail? Yuck!

When I made the connection that this hose water was probably not something birds should be drinking, I temporarily went back to my winter time practice of filling the birdbaths using a large pitcher filled from the kitchen sink’s faucet.

Finding a Drinking Water Hose

Then I set out to purchase a drinking water hose. I found this a little trickier than expected. I had thought to just pick one up at the large local home improvement store, but they didn’t stock them in the store.

So I went home and did a little more research. In the end, I purchased the “Camco 22853 Premium Drinking Water Hose (5/8″ID x 50′) – Lead Free” hose from Amazon. At the time I purchased this fifty foot hose, it was $21, which seemed reasonable and it qualified for free Prime Shipping. (Prices can change so the link below will show today’s pricing info.)

Camco says in their product description on Amazon that, “Camco’s Premium Drinking Water Hose is extra tough and great for camping, RVing, gardening, washing your vehicle, watering livestock and more. This drinking water safe hose is lead free, BPA free, phthalate free and also won’t give your water that ‘garden hose taste’. The hose is 20% thicker than standard drinking water hoses, making it more resistant to leaks and pinholes. The durable hose is reinforced for maximum kink resistance. Hose ID is 5/8 inch for high flow.”

I Like This Hose

I’ve been using this hose to water my herb and vegetable garden and to fill my birdbaths for the past month. It does appear to be a good quality hose and I’ve had no problem with it. So far, it hasn’t kinked either. I feel better knowing the water I’m providing to birds is cleaner and free of these chemicals and lead.

2019 Update: While I am not a chemist and so can’t evaluate the water from this hose, it has been working out well. It will occasionally kink, but overall not as much as some hoses I’ve had in the past. This one is well made and has stood up to three years of use (and counting.)

Nancie

White-Throated Sparrow at the Birdbath
A Damp White-Throated Sparrow at the Birdbath in April

More Posts on Birdbaths

Keeping Cats Out of Birdbaths

Choosing & Maintaining Heated Birdbaths

Improvised DIY Heated Birdbaths

Make Your Own Birdbath

My Newest DIY Birdbath Has Something To Hide!

My Favorite Birdbath

Simple Inexpensive Birdbath


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4 thoughts on “Does Your Hose Provide Clean Water For Birds?

  1. Wow! Great learning post here! Thanks so much! I like the homemade birdbath you have pictured. I have to look on your blog here to see if you listed the materials to make this birdbath 🙂 I love your blog & learn so much with each posting you provide, thanks again.

      1. Well let’s see here… Do you have any deformed birds? Say with two heads, maybe wings upside down? For how long have you been using the previous “toxic” inducing hose? No I’ll affects I would guess.

        Interesting no less, but I doubt it’s any reason to rush out and pick up a new “Organic” hose!

        1. Hi Mark,
          Thank you for your comment. I’m not a scientist and so have not personally studied the effects of chemicals in drinking water in birds (or any other creature.) Birds come and go in my backyard, drinking water here and other places. I don’t have a captive set of birds for comparing hose water.

          That said, I don’t think it is a bad assumption that “drinking water hoses” which are designed to avoid chemicals in water that people and pets drink would also be healthier for birds. Just like people drinking from a regular hose probably wouldn’t result in two heads or upside down arms, I would guess it wouldn’t affect birds that way. But just because you can’t see the the effect of ingesting chemicals on the outside, doesn’t mean there isn’t something going on inside. Things like lead, BPA and phthalate DEHP are found in regular garden hoses. Those are not things I want to drink myself or offer to another living creature in my yard.

          You might find this article on chemicals in hoses by a PhD in chemistry interesting: https://www.thoughtco.com/is-it-safe-to-drink-hose-water-609429

          Here is another one on the same topic: https://saferchemicals.org/2016/06/20/new-study-rates-best-and-worst-garden-hoses/

          Good wishes,
          Nancie

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