Does a water softener remove minerals that are good for the body?

02-17-2015_Watertech_Does_a_Water_Softener_Remove_MineralsWhile the internet is a great place to get information about almost any given topic, it’s also a place where misconceptions (and even myths) can be circulated repeatedly. One of those fallacies is the idea that softened water removes minerals and nutrients needed by our bodies. This simply is not the case. Let us tell you why. 

Water Softening Does Not Remove Necessary Minerals and Nutrients

First of all, let’s review the definition of “hard” and “soft” water. As water makes its way over weathering rocks, through the ground and into our waterways, it picks up minerals that make water hard–namely calcium and magnesium. According to a U.S. Geological Survey, over 85 percent of U.S. homes have hard water. Hard water manifests itself by leaving spots on dishes and scale buildup on shower doors.

Soft water, on the other hand, is water that is naturally soft due to low levels of hardness minerals or because it has been “softened” through treatment at a municipal water plant or with a home water softening system. A typical residential ion-exchange water softener softens hard water by exchanging calcium and magnesium for sodium.

Doesn’t the Body Need Magnesium and Calcium?

Absolutely! Calcium and magnesium are essential for proper health. Inadequate consumption of either nutrient can impair health. Specifically, without proper levels of magnesium, you might experience muscle cramps, poor sleep, muscle tics/twitches, and even chronic pain. And calcium is equally important for strong teeth and bones.

But food is the primary source of magnesium and calcium. Dairy products are the richest source of calcium—accounting for more than 50 percent of the total calcium in many diets. Dietary sources of magnesium include dairy products, nuts, fruits, vegetables and grains.

Most studies indicate that the calcium and magnesium prevalent in hard water is in an inorganic form that the body cannot digest. Therefore, removing calcium and magnesium from your water to soften it does not decrease the intake of these nutrients. In fact, if you are looking to add more calcium and magnesium to your diet, drinking “hard water” (or water that has not been treated by a water softener) is not the answer. Instead, consult your doctor about possible dietary changes or nutritional supplements.Minerals

Does “Soft Water” Add Sodium to My Diet?

Since calcium and magnesium are exchanged for sodium during the “softening process”, you may wonder if this will increase the sodium intake to your diet? The simple answer is, “not really”. The amount of sodium in your water after going through the softening process will depend on the hardness level of your water to begin with. But the truth is, there is very little sodium in softened water.

In fact, less than three percent of your daily sodium intake comes from drinking or cooking with softened water. You’d have to drink six to eight (6-8) glasses of softened water to equal as much sodium as that found in a single slice of white bread!

Dr. Sheldon G. Sheps of the Mayo Clinic concluded that, “The added sodium doesn’t add up to much. An 8-ounce (237-milliliter) glass of softened water generally contains less than 12.5 milligrams of sodium, which is well within the Food and Drug Administration’s definition of ‘very low sodium.’ Thus, it’s unlikely that sodium in softened water would pose a risk for most healthy people…. It’s important to keep in mind that the majority of sodium in an average person’s diet comes from table salt and processed foods. Thus, the best way to decrease sodium in your diet is by putting away the saltshaker and cutting back on processed foods.”

That said, if you have a sodium restricted diet or have concerns about sodium intake, you should consult your physician before installing a water softener in your home.

To learn more about residential water softening and the impact of hard water on your home, we invite you to download our Hard Water Guide:

  • Learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of hard water.
  • Understand how your home is affected at varying degrees of water hardness.
  • See vivid graphics and easy-to-understand facts that explain hard water. What it is, where it comes from and why it’s costing you money.
  • Learn how a water softening system can impact your daily life.

Hard Water Guide cta






  • With the environment constantly deteriorating, the integrity of the water that runs from the taps on our homes has become compromised. Additionally, those that are sitting pretty thinking tap water is safe, you could never be more mistaken. Nice post

  • Alex | Water Softener Critic

    Truly informative post with some great info especially the quote from Dr. Sheldon G. Sheps. Many people had the misconception about sodium mixed in daily use water from water softener. In fact, I had the same wrong idea. So, I researched a lot and conclude with the statement that you mentioned in the post. Nice great article and thanks for sharing.

  • Christine Taylor

    I liked your post, nice sharing. Softening residential water is really important but awareness is still a problem. I agree, symptoms and signs of using hard water should be considered.

  • Since installing a whole house salt based water softener system my dishwasher runs about an hour longer than before, the dishes are not thoroughly cleaned, and now there is always water left on the tops of glasses. We are using the same dishwashing detergent as we used before installing the softener system. We are cleaning the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, too. Why is this happening?

    • Colette McCullough

      Thanks for your comment. You may want to call the manufacturer of your water softener system. Usually water softener owners experience the complete opposite meaning dishes are more sparkling clean than ever. Also wondering if there could be an issue with the dishwasher simply because a water softener cannot dictate the length of a wash cycle. If your dishwasher is running an hour longer than before and if water is left on the tops of glasses (even after the drying cycle), I’m sorry to say that’s probably not something a softener would/could impact.

  • Good water is essential to your body’s health—after all, your body is made up of over 2/3 water! But not all water is created equal. How do you sort through the many claims about water filters and water purifiers? We can help.

  • Thank you for the information. I want to point out that it is also worth considering using ro system to filter your water and get rid of contaminants, such as microorganisms and chemicals.

  • is it safe to give treated water to cats and dogs? I have been told it is not safe and I have been told it is safe…. So which is true?