Your seemingly innocuous garden hose may be brewing up a dangerous cocktail. Before taking another drink, consider investing in a chemical-free, drinking-water-safe option.
The vast majority of garden hoses are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which contains harmful lead that leeches into water in levels deemed unsafe to drink. And, while it is believed that plants don't absorb lead, I can't stand the idea of spraying my garden, especially my herb and vegetable containers, with lead-ridden water. Fortunately, there's a new breed of PVC-free garden hoses made with FDA-approved materials that are not only drinking-water safe but also durable and lightweight.
N.B: Even with drink-safe hoses, it's important to let the water run until it's cold before you drink it, as contaminants can grow in warm standing water.
Above: The Heritage Garden Hose is made of chemical-free polyurethane that is resistant to cracks and leaks. The 50-foot hose weighs only three pounds, comes in four colors, and has chrome-plated brass fittings; $58 at Terrain.
Above: The Slim and Light Professional Garden Hose is lightweight (it also weighs 3 pounds per 50 feet), soft, strong, and flexible. The ultra-slim hose is made from FDA- and NSF-approved food-safe polyurethane that is toxin-free and won’t kink or crack. Made by Water Right, a family-owned company in Oregon, it is available in orange and olive and in lengths of 50 and 100 feet; $59.95 and $99.95 respectively at Williams-Sonoma.
Above: Another Water Right product, the Lead Safe High Flow "Big Guy" Garden Hose is made of lead-free polyurethane. Available in two colors (eggplant and olive) and two lengths, 50 and 100 feet; $67.83 and $104.39 respectively from Amazon.
Above: Also from Water Right, the 50-Foot Coil Garden Hose is ideal for small urban or balcony gardens (longer coil hoses are also available). Manufactured in the US using FDA-grade drinking-water-safe polyurethane and commercial-grade brass fittings that are plated to prevent lead from leaching into the water; $69.95, including a nozzle and quick-release coupler.
Above: The Armadillo Garden Hose has a galvanized steel outer shell over reinforced nylon-grade tubing. The couplings are nickel-plated and crush-proof (ever ruin your hose by backing over it with a car?). Resistant to pets (and rodents) who like to chew, it is available in seven lengths ranging from 6 to 100 feet; $139 for the 50-foot length at Wayfair.
Above: The GatorHyde Drinking Water Safe Garden Hose is made of 50-percent recycled polyurethane with nickel-plated ends. The company claims that it's up to two times lighter and three times more durable than other hoses. The 50-foot length is $59.95 through Amazon.
Updated from a post originally published April 19, 2013.
To keep your hose tidily stored away, see 10 Easy Pieces: Crank Hose Reels. For some old-fashioned irrigation methods, see Metal Watering Cans in Primary Colors and Belgian Basics with a Fairy Tale Twist.