Is Soft Water Safe to Drink?

Is Soft Water Safe to Drink blog header

Occasionally the question comes up, “Is it OK to drink softened water?” and “How much salt does a softener add to my water?”

Let us tackle this question head on:  It is true –salt is involved in the water softening process.  Through an ion exchange process, water softening systems replace calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions. 

What most people do not realize, is how little sodium is in softened water.

The amount of sodium in your drinking water from a water softener system can vary depending on the hardness of your water, but you are certainly not drinking “salt water”. In fact, on average, less than three percent of your daily sodium intake comes from drinking softened water. 

So while some may worry that drinking softened water will increase their salt intake, in reality nearly all sodium in our diets comes from the food we eat. Did you know that eight glasses of softened water contains about as much sodium as would be found in a typical piece of white bread?

Dr. Sheldon G. Sheps* of the Mayo Clinic wrote about this very topic. 

“The added sodium doesn’t add up to much,” Sheps explained.  “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.”

If I still worry about the salt, is there an alternative?

For those who are on a low-sodium diet or watching their sodium intake for medical reasons, you may consider using potassium chloride pellets rather than salt pellets in your brine tank.   Potassium chloride is 99.9% sodium free.  Be aware that potassium chloride pellets are generally more expensive than and not as easy to find as salt pellets.

Since salt is used in softening water, will my water taste salty?

Although salt is used in the softening process, this does not mean you will have “salty” tasting water. Sodium bicarbonate, which is different from table salt (sodium chloride), is formed during the water softening process.  If your water tastes “salty”, contact a water treatment professional to have your system checked over to ensure it is functioning properly.

Still want to improve the taste of your water?

As a general rule, we recommend that a reverse osmosis (RO) system be installed with every water softener and conditioner. They are great companions to make sure you have softened water for all your household needs, but also have delicious, clean water at your kitchen tap. 

WaterTech’s RO PureMAX II produces the ultimate in clean water by removing any residual sodium, chlorine, total dissolved solids (TDS), and other impurities. Your beverages and ice will consistently taste better with the quality of bottled water right from your tap. Plus, you can eliminate the need for pour-through pitchers or faucet filters, with far superior results.

How do I make sure my softener is using the right amount of salt?

No matter the type of softener you own, you should have your system checked out regularly by a water treatment professional to make sure it is regenerating correctly.  

If you’re in the market for a water softener/conditioner, WaterTech’s Reionator water conditioning system operates with a fully-automated, electronic metered control valve with ultra-high-efficiency programming capabilities.  It’s so smart, it can anticipate your family’s water usage which makes it 40 percent more efficient than the competition in water and salt conservation.

In addition, the Reionator has the ability to remove chlorine taste and odor while reducing that slippery feel often associated with softened water. It does all this without the need for costly filter changes, creating the ultimate quality water. And that’s just the beginning of why the Reionator is so extraordinary. For more information about the Reionator premium water conditioning system and RO PureMAX II, contact a dealer.

And if you’re looking for a completely SALT-FREE alternative to water conditioning, check out the WaterTech’s SaltFreeMAX. You can also learn more on our blog “Is A Salt-Free Water Conditioner Best For You?

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*Dr. Sheldon Sheps, emeritus professor of medicine and former chair of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension in the Department of Medicine at Mayo Clinic, has been with Mayo Clinic since 1960.


  • Very assuring. We have a WATER TECH REIONATOR PLATINUM system in our new home we just purchased.
    We need 4,700 mg of Potassium daily, per FDA. In accord with the above only 12.5mg of sodium remain in 8 oz of
    water. IS IT THE SAME FOR POTASSIUM? As an ion exchange I assume the residual potassium left in water
    should be similar. WE ARE CONCERNED.

  • Ever since we moved into this home my wife has hated how the water tastes and wants to get a filter or softener. You stated that on average, less than three percent of your daily sodium intake comes from drinking softened water. Are there certain types of water softeners that provide more nutrients than others? Hiring a plumber to come and install a new water softener might be a good idea.