Is Soft Water Safe to Drink?

Is Soft Water Safe to Drink?

Is soft water safe to drink? If you are pondering this question, the answer is “Yes, it is safe to drink soft water.” Many people worry that drinking soft water increases their salt intake. However, the amount of salt in softened water is below levels harmful to health.

Although salt is typically used during the water softening process, you are not drinking “saltwater” because during the water softening process, the salt (sodium chloride) is broken down and the sodium ions displace the calcium and magnesium ions that cause water hardness.

Given that high sodium levels are usually associated with heart and circulatory problems, a low-salt diet is recommended for persons with hypertension and those with heart failure. But the thing most people don’t perceive is, the sodium level in soft water is too low to affect your health.

For most home water softeners, softened water usually contains about 12.5 mg of sodium per 8 oz (~ 236.5 ml) glass. Based on the guide published by the Food and Drug Administration, this would be considered “very low sodium,” (which means ≤ 35 mg of sodium per serving).

Some Facts About Soft Water

Here are some facts that you should know to make an informed decision regarding the consumption of soft water.

  • Do you know three liters of soft water contains as much sodium as a slice of bread?
  • Heavy metals are more soluble in soft water, and corrosive waters may leach toxic metals such as copper and lead from household plumbing pipes.
  • Water softeners remove calcium and magnesium that our body requires.
  • Less than 3% of your daily sodium intake comes from soft water. So, like most people, you are more likely to get most of your daily sodium from your meals.

What If I’m Still Worried About Salt in Soft Water?

If you’re still wondering whether the softened water in your home is safe to drink, here are some alternative ways to soften your water.

  • Get a system that uses potassium instead of sodium to soften your water.
  • You can also utilize a reverse osmosis system. This system has been reported to remove 98% of sodium that is added in water during the water softening process.
  • Distilled water is also good for drinking and cooking. While it may be pricey initially, it saves you money over time.

Before considering any of the options above, you can contact your local health department to ask for the hardness of your water in grains per gallon. You can use the value to calculate the amount of sodium (in mg/L) that is added to your water.

Here’s a quick formula to help you calculate the amount of sodium that your water softener adds to your water:

Amount of sodium added (mg/L)
= water hardness (in grains per gallon) x 8

Note that if you live in an area with very hard water, your water softener will add more sodium to your water to replace the amount of calcium and magnesium that it removes.


What is the Difference Between Soft Water and Distilled Water?

Some people do not know the difference between soft water and distilled water and think they are the same. They are not.

In soft water, hardness minerals are removed and replaced with salt. In distilled water, all soluble minerals (including calcium, magnesium and phosphorus) and contaminants are removed.

Put simply, distilled water is obtained from the condensation of water vapor after the water is brought to boiling point. Therefore, distilled water is reduced to just hydrogen and oxygen contrary to soft water, which is highly filtered water that has been stripped of undesirable solids and contaminants through osmosis or another filtration method.

Health Benefits of Soft Water

First, soft water helps quench thirst by balancing your body’s fluid system; it doesn’t have a high mineral concentration as is the case with hard water, which disturbs body fluid balance, thereby causing thirst.

With correct fluid balance, you don’t feel tired, and by simply being adequately hydrated, this can make a great difference in how you feel.

Second, drinking soft water helps your body remove soluble body wastes through your kidneys. A correct pH balance makes it easy for your kidneys to work effectively without straining.

Lastly, the consumption of soft water decreases your risk of developing mental health problems, which has been associated with the consumption of hard water.

The only perceived downside of consuming soft water, as mentioned earlier, is the ‘hidden’ salt in softened water and its low calcium and magnesium concentration, which can be avoided if you use a potassium-based water softener instead of a sodium-based one.

Is Soft Water Safe for Pets and Plants?

Yes, soft water is safe for pets, and it meets the Food and Drug Administration safety standards.

If you have been advised to restrict the daily amount of sodium that you pet should consume, you need to consult a veterinarian before giving your pet soft water.

However, it isn’t a good idea to use softened water on your plants. This is because plants don’t do well in a salty environment. In fact, softened water can affect their growth and cause them to wilt.

Additionally, soft water isn’t good for soil. When you water your garden or flower pots with soft water, salt builds up in the soil, making it difficult for future plants to thrive.

Jon Agarwal

Jon Agarwal works as an environmental consultant focused on water resources, and he volunteers his time for non-profit organizations. He lives in the heart of Melbourne with his beautiful wife, two sons, and three Persian cats. He particularly enjoys working part-time as it leaves him the time to work on his own writing and share his knowledge. Visit our About page to learn about the contributors of Healthy Buddys.

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