Do Water Softeners Add Sodium To Drinking Water?

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Do Water Softeners Add Sodium To Drinking Water

A water softener swaps out the “hard” calcium and magnesium in the water for the “soft” sodium ions. This leads to the question: Do water softeners add sodium to drinking water? And how much salt is unsafe for consumption?

In this guide you will find the answers and learn more essential information about the sodium in your softened water. Let’s dive in!

How Much Sodium Is In Softened Water

The level of sodium added to water in the softening process will depend on the hardness of the water, but generally, 12.5 milligrams of sodium is added per 8-ounce glass

To calculate the sodium concentration in your water, you will need to start with the hardness of your water expressed in grains per gallon (GPG).

If the water test reveals a hardness of 18 grains per gallon, installing a water softener will increase by around 35 milligrams of sodium per 8-ounce glass of water. A water hardness reading of 15 grains per gallon will add approximately 28 milligrams of sodium for every 8-ounce glass of softened water you consume.

Should you be concerned with this amount of sodium in softened water? 

According to the Food and Drug Administration’s guide regarding the sodium content of foods, anything that contains less than 35mg of sodium per serving is considered “very low sodium”.

Thus, water softeners don’t add a lot of sodium to the water supply, even if you live in an area with particularly hard water. 

Why Sodium Is Added To Water During the Softening Process?

Hard water is brought on by the presence of dissolved calcium and magnesium. To effectively remove minerals from hard water, a water softener requires the addition of sodium. Hence, your water needs to undergo an ion exchange treatment.

Ion exchange process

Water softeners rely on the salt since it is an integral part of the ion exchange system.

Do Water Softeners Add Sodium To Drinking Water_Salt Based Softener Ion Exchange Process

A water-softening ion exchange system comprises a sodium tank and a resin tank. The ion exchange process involves swapping the positively charged calcium and magnesium ions in water for positively charged sodium ions.

In a salt brine solution, sodium ions are dragged into the resin tank since sodium is attracted to the opposite charge of the resin beads.

When water travels through the resin tank, ion exchange softens it, and sodium stays in the resin bed. Calcium and magnesium ions are taken out of the water during the softening process. This leaves you with salt-softened water.

Potassium Vs. Sodium Water Softeners

Water softening in the home can be accomplished using sodium chloride or potassium chloride. The critical distinction is that potassium chloride requires much more of the mineral than sodium chloride to soften the same volume of water.

Potassium chloride also reduces the amount of sodium present in water, which is an additional perk. When potassium chloride is used to soften water, it does not add any sodium to the water and can eliminate up to 90% of the already present sodium.

Everybody needs a healthy dose of potassium every day. However, because the human body cannot synthesize potassium, we must obtain this mineral from our food.

Incorporating potassium chloride into your water supply can add up to 11 percent of your daily potassium needs being met.

The Amount Of Sodium Added Depends On Water Hardness

Different amounts of salt will be needed to soften the water depending on the water’s hardness. If your water source is high in calcium and magnesium, you’ll need to add more sodium ions to soften the water.

Does A Water Softener Increase Your Sodium Intake?

Do water softeners add sodium to drinking water_Is it safe to drink

Yes, a water softener will raise your sodium intake, albeit slightly. You can safely drink as much if you’re not on a very low-sodium diet.

In fact, about one percent of your recommended daily sodium intake is provided by a regular 250 ml glass of soft water. Note that sodium is found in a wide variety of foods and products, the most evident being table salt.

In cases where you are under strict medical supervision to limit your sodium intake, you may want to think again before drinking soft water. This is primarily the case for people diagnosed with hypertension and kidney disease. 

Is it Safe To Drink Water From A Water Softener? 

It is generally safe for healthy adults to drink soft water. There isn’t much salt in soft water. Therefore drinking it won’t significantly increase your sodium intake.

Did you know the typical American diet contains roughly 3,400 milligrams of sodium? But the Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise that individuals should only consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. This is approximately 1 teaspoon of table salt.

The American Heart Association advises that adults with hypertension (high blood pressure) should not consume more than 1,500 mg per day. This is also the same case for individuals with kidney disease

It is important to remember that most people’s sodium intake comes from highly processed and preserved foods or the use of table salt for cooking. 

Does Softened Water Taste Salty?

No, softened water should not taste salty. Water softeners do not increase the salt content of the water. 

Some people mistakenly believe that water softening raises salt levels in the water. In spite of the fact that actual salt is added to the water softener, none of its saltiness makes its way into the drinking water system.

When salt softens water, it is first broken down so sodium may be used. It is not salt (NaCl) that is added to water; it’s sodium (Na). To be clear, salt is a crystal-like compound, and sodium is a chemical element in salt.

How Do You Remove Sodium From Softened Water? 

Alternatively, consider ways to remove salt from soft water rather than assuming a no-salt softening technique. There are two processes that work best to reduce the quantity of sodium present in water, reverse osmosis and distillation.

Reverse Osmosis

The best method for removing sodium from drinking water is reverse osmosis (RO). Reverse osmosis is a method of purifying water that applies pressure to force the liquid through a semipermeable membrane. The layer has microscopic pores that allow water molecules to pass through while trapping larger particles like sodium.

Thus, it is capable of removing any dissolved contaminants like sodium. Then, they are flushed out via the reject stream, which may also be referred to as the concentration stream or the brine stream.

The system can reuse and conserve water by flushing the wastewater down the drain or recycling it back into the feedwater source.


Distillation is a physical technique that can be utilized to remove up to 99.9% of contaminants that are present in water. In this method, contaminated water is boiled, and the resulting steam is collected in a separate vessel. 

When the purified steam is allowed to cool down, it returns to its original state as water. This is a result of the condensation process. Elements that do not evaporate are typically left behind. This includes sodium and other heavy metals.

Since it is a natural process, distillation can be a DIY process at home or with the use of a countertop distilling machine.

FAQs On Do Water Softeners Add Sodium To Drinking Water

Do Brita filters remove sodium from softened water?

Brita water filters, unfortunately, do not remove salt from soft water. If you aim to remove salt from your softened water, you need to install a reverse osmosis system.

Can I use a salt-free softener rather than a salt-based softener?

Yes, one of the reasons saltless water softeners were developed was to have an alternative to salt-based options. Saltless softeners treat scale buildup in hard water without the need for chemicals, salt, or backwashing.

Does reverse osmosis remove sodium from the water softener?

Yes. Reverse osmosis is a very effective and natural process for removing salt from the water that has been softened. In the same way, reverse osmosis systems can significantly lessen the water’s contaminant load.

What’s the difference between potassium chloride and sodium chloride water softeners?

Compared to sodium chloride, potassium chloride requires a significantly higher concentration to achieve the same degree of water softening.

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