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How Much Water Should A Singer Drink?

Photograph of the blog post author, Annika Hope

Annika Hope


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drinking water

Water is a singer’s best friend. The benefits of drinking water are endless, for your overall health as well as your vocal health. Too many singers fall into the trap of not hydrating properly and damaging their larynx or burning out during a show, but how much water should you be drinking in a day? 

Water is a crucial part of a singer’s diet. But downing a bottle of water before going on stage isn’t enough; singers need to be fussy about hydration. How much you drink, when you drink, and even the water’s temperature will affect your larynx and vocals. 

Your body – not to mention your vocal cords – can’t function without water. It may not seem like the most exciting drink, but getting your daily quota will pay off when you’re performing back-to-back gigs. Water doesn’t have to be boring; this article reveals how to inject flavour into your H20. 

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Vocal hydration 

By the time your brain registers that you’re feeling thirsty, your body has already started to become dehydrated. Staying hydrated is crucial for singers. Your vocal cords are your instrument and drinking water is the best way to maintain vocal health.  

Drinking regularly throughout the day will keep your larynx hydrated. Water should be a singer’s drink of choice because it lubricates your vocal folds, allowing them to vibrate fully.  

Staying hydrated doesn’t just help your vocal cords – it brings moisture to your mouth and throat, too. This improves your articulation and clarity when you sing.   

Does water help you sing better? 

Water is a singer’s secret weapon. Drinking water keeps your voice healthy and sounding strong. If you drink the recommended amount of water every day, your voice will be clearer and more resilient.  

How much water should a singer drink?  

The NHS recommends that you should aim to drink 8 glasses of 200ml water a day. Men are recommended to drink more and should try to drink around 10 glasses. This equates to between 1.6L and 2L of water a day, depending on your gender. 

How to tell if you’re drinking enough water 

There’s one easy way to tell if you’re drinking enough water: by using the “pee pale” rule.  

It may not sound like the most appealing thing to do, but looking at the colour of your urine is the best indication of whether you’re hydrated. If it’s a pale, clear colour then you’re drinking enough. If it’s a dark shade of yellow, you need to drink more.  

Signs of vocal dehydration 

It’s easy to forget to drink between sets or before an audition. Combined with the heat and physical exertion of being on stage, a singer is more susceptible to becoming dehydrated. You can start to suffer from water depletion without even realising it sometimes. The warning signs to look out for are: 

Mild/moderate dehydration: 

  • Thirst 
  • Dry/scratchy throat 
  • Dark yellow urine 
  • Weakened voice 
  • Needing to clear your throat

Severe dehydration: 

  • Rapid heartbeat 
  • Fast breathing 
  • Fainting 
  • Feeling dizzy 

Can you drink too much water? 

It’s really rare for someone to drink too much water – you’d have to drink over 1L of fluids an hour to be drinking too much. But over-hydration is possible and can cause your cells to swell in severe cases.  

Over-hydration happens when you drink more water than your body can process. It’s usually measured by how much you’re drinking per hour, rather than over the course of the day.  

The human body releases signals to tell us when we’re drinking too much or too little, which makes it very hard to over-drink without realising. The chance of over-hydration is very slim, but just in case, it’s best to drink regularly throughout the day rather than downing a huge amount of water in a short space of time. 

Is hot water good for your singing voice? 

Singers shouldn’t drink hot water. Hot water increases the amount of mucus surrounding your vocal cords – and too much mucus is just as bad for your voice as too little.  

Hot water can ruin your tone, making your voice sound stuffy and phlegmy. It can also make singing itself feel uncomfortable and strained, as consuming any type of hot fluid before you sing will cause your vocal cords to become inflamed.   

How to make water more exciting 

People often avoid drinking water because it’s too boring or they don’t like the taste. To help you reach your 8 glasses a day, try these ways of spicing up your drink! 

  • Mash up fresh fruit at the bottom of your glass before adding water 
  • Make some green or white tea and then refrigerate 
  • Eat fruit – melon is over 90% water and will help boost your daily intake! 
  • Add a squeeze of lemon 
  • Try eating low-sodium broths or soups to supplement your water intake 
  • Add some cucumber slices to your drink 
  • Infuse your water with fruit peels 

Foods to boost your water intake 

Water can be an underwhelming choice of drink. But you don’t have to drink glass after glass to reach your recommended H20 intake – your diet can help you get there, too. It’s important to follow a healthy diet as a singer, and these foods can help you achieve both: 

  • Cucumbers (are 96% water) 
  • Tomatoes (are 95% water) 
  • Broccoli (is 88% water) 
  • Apples (are 85% water) 
  • Blueberries (are 84% water) 

Does water help your vocal cords? 

Your vocal cords are put through their paces every time you sing. They’re made up of extremely delicate tissue which vibrates to help you produce sound. When you use your vocal cords vigorously or continuously, they can become irritated, strained or even torn. 

Water is your vocal cords’ best friend. Regularly drinking water keeps your vocal cords healthy and keeps injuries at bay.  

Water helps your body produce mucus, which lubricates your vocal cords and keeps them in top working order. Your vocal cords vibrate more than 100 times a second when you speak, let alone when you sing! Hydration is crucial because if your vocal cords dry out, you’re more prone to vocal strain. 

How long does it take to hydrate your vocal cords?  

It takes around 4 hours for any water you drink to reach your vocal cords.  

When you drink, the fluids don’t directly come into contact with your vocal cords. If they did, you’d end up gagging. Instead, our digestive system processes any water you drink and then works on producing mucus to lubricate the vocal cords.  

This is why the process of hydration takes so long, and why quickly downing some water before you get on stage won’t help your performance. Don’t wait until you’re feeling thirsty before you drink – your body is already entering dehydration by this point. 

You need to regularly drink water throughout the day to keep your vocal folds hydrated. 

How do you hydrate your vocal cords?  

Water is undeniably one of the best ways to hydrate your vocal cords. Your body needs water, so you can’t replace drinking water with other methods. But as a singer, it’s worth trying every trick to get your voice working at its optimum. These are some great ways to hydrate: 

  • Use a humidifier 
  • Try vocal steaming 
  • Eat foods with high water content (like fruits and salads) 
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these will dry out your vocal cords

Best drink for singing voice 

Water is the unrivalled best drink for your singing voice. But not just any type of water: for optimum results, you should drink warm water. It may sound boring, but your voice will thank you! 

Drinking water at room temperature is the best possible drink you can have as a singer. Cold drinks or beverages with ice will shock your vocal cords, causing them to tense up. Hot drinks are just as risky before a performance, as they can inflame your vocal cords.  

Water isn’t the most exciting drink. If you need more flavour to motivate you to reach your daily quota, try occasionally adding lemon or honey to your warm water. Honey will lubricate your throat, while the acidity from the lemon gets rid of any phlegm.  

Drinks to help singing voice 

  • Peppermint tea 
  • Decaf Liquorice Root tea 
  • Green or herbal teas 
  • Warm water with honey and lemon 
  • Ginger tea with cayenne pepper 
  • Salt-water gargle 

There are also lots of drinks that won’t help your singing voice. Take a look at this article for a list of what you shouldn’t drink as a singer. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

  • Is bottled water better for your voice? 

Contrary to common belief, bottled water is typically no better for you than tap water. Researchers have found that bottled water actually undergoes fewer tests than tap water, meaning it’s more likely to carry contamination.  

If you live in a hard water area or are worried about drinking water straight from the tap, you could always try using a water filter. This will help purify your water before you drink it. 

  • Can singers drink sparkling water? 

Sparkling water is a much healthier alternative to fizzy drinks. Singers should still avoid carbonated water before they sing though. Like fizzy drinks, sparkling water contains carbonic acid, and this can irritate your vocal cords and cause acid reflux. 


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