Can I drink water that’s been through a water softener?

Can I drink water that has been through a water softener?

 Is it safe?

Does it taste different?

Do I need a direct cold water feed for my drinking water?

These are questions often asked, particularly when people are considering installing a water softener. Here we look at why people are concerned about drinking softened water and the perceptions associated with this.

So, can I drink water that has been through a water softener? The answer is categorically yes! There is no scientific evidence to suggest that drinking softened water is harmful to the average person. However, like everything, there are a few considerations that need to be taken into account and of course most of these are subjective and will require an individual approach to ensure that any health/taste issues are not compromised.

Lets have a look and see why there is a historic concern about drinking softened water.

Most water softeners work by removing the minerals present in hard water, such as magnesium and calcium, through a process known as ion-exchange, which happens in the resin tank of the softener. The resin is the heart of the softener and needs a regular clean to ensure that the softener will continue to deliver soft water. This resin is cleaned by washing it with a brine solution, which removes the calcium and magnesium. This means that softened water contains a small amount of sodium (salt).

Many years ago, when water softeners first started to become popular in a domestic environment, it was recommended that softened water was not drunk. The reason for this was due to the type of resin that was used in these first, older softeners. This type of resin had not been accredited as being suitable for human consumption. Nowadays, the more modern softeners do have a food grade resin which is perfectly safe for drinking. However its always worth checking on the type of resin used in the softener you are interested in as some cheaper imports may not have the latest food grade resin.

Softened water is not suitable for small babies when using to make up formula milk or where an individual has been advised to observe a low sodium diet, due to medical conditions. Its worth noting that there is more sodium in a glass of milk than a glass of softened water. The taste of softened water is down to personal choice.

Drinking softened water: official advice

Can i drink water that has been through a water softener? For health reasons, there is a limit on the recommended level of salt in drinking water at 200 mg/l. For most areas of the UK, the sodium levels of softened water will be well within recommended limits; however, in a few parts of the UK where the drinking water is particularly hard, sodium levels may exceed 220 mg/l.

Advice from the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) June 2007 No 9-07-01 ISSUE 1 is:

  • Drinking water must comply with regulations, these state that the maximum limit of sodium is 200 mg/l (milligrams per litre).
  • This sodium limit will be exceeded where the water is extremely hard, for example above 425 ppm. This is assuming that the sodium level in the public water supply is zero

All homes will have a different level of hardness, even when comparing water from street to street in the same location.  Water passes through the landscape, in and out of reservoirs and through areas with different types of minerals and rock. On the way to being treated by your local supplier, it can have quite a long journey and sometimes our water has travelled literally the length of the country.

What to do if you are not happy about drinking softened water and want to fit a water softener.

We Have Reviewed The Best Water Softeners Here 

The answer is in a simple common place plumbing technique. When your plumber (or your competent DIY enthusiast) is preparing the pipework for your softener installation, all they need to do is ensure that there is a tee from the incoming water mains that goes straight to a tap, which will provide your property with (hard) drinking water. This nominated tap can be in a kitchen or utility, in fact anywhere in the house, so long as its convenient for the household and that everyone knows that its hard drinking water. Its not vital to do this but its often the preferred option for those who are unsure about whether they want to drink softened water.

This tap bypasses the water softening device and produces filtered hard water for you and your family to drink, rather than soft water. It is also a simple process to fit a water filter directly onto this water source should you wish to improve the drinking quality, taste and smell of your mains water.

Reasons why some people prefer to have mains water for their drinking water source

  • Instances where softened water isn’t suitable eg mixing with baby formula or feeds or medical conditions
  • Some people prefer the taste of hard water
  • For watering indoor plants or your garden
  • Some fish in aquariums or in garden ponds may require hard water in tanks and pond environments.
  • Some laundry irons can self-descale and are designed for use with hard water, you will need to check any instructions to be sure.


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