Updated: April 7, 2021 by Zac Harding
Drinking water every day is essential for health and well-being. If you don’t drink water every day then your body will become hydrated, and unable to function properly.
Almost all of the components of your body require water to be able to operate successfully, so if you don’t drink water then your organs will begin to shut down and fail.
But does it matter what type of water you drink?
When we say ‘type of water’, we don’t mean flavored, sparkling, or still, instead, we mean the method in which the water has been harvested. In particular, we are talking about water which has been treated in a process known as ‘softening’.
So if you have softened water in your home and are unsure whether or not it is safe to drink, you are in the right place as we’ve put together this complete guide to answer the question ‘can you drink softened water?’. So let’s get started.
What is Softened Water?
On a base level, softened water is simply just water. It is made of the same chemical atoms as normal water, but it has one key difference, and that is the level of sodium that you will find inside of it.
All water contains a certain level of sodium, but softened water will have a much higher level of sodium than water which is labeled ‘safe to drink’.
This is because some people use a treatment known as ‘softening’ to reduce their hard water, but what does this process do?
The majority of water softeners have the sole purpose of removing minerals in water which makes it be classed as hard water.
These minerals tend to include calcium and magnesium and they are removed through something called ion exchange which utilizes sodium as this makes up part of the resin which is used to collect these minerals.
This is why the end product of softened water contains some sodium, also known as salt. The amount of salt/sodium will differ depending on how hard the water was and this is normally influenced by the area that you live in as harder water will require more sodium to treat it.
So now that you know what softened water is, let’s take a look at whether or not you can drink softened water.
Can You Drink Softened Water?
The answer to this question isn’t as easy as a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. In a lot of cases, softened water will be safe to drink, but this does depend on the level of salt which is found inside of the water after it has been treated. So how do you know how much sodium is in your water after it has been treated?
There is a general rule of thumb about whether or not softened water is safe to drink, and it involves measuring the level of calcium and magnesium in the water before treatment.
If the hardness of the water before softening measures less than 400PPM (parts per million) then it is safe to drink after it has been treated, but if the number exceeds this then the water will require extra purification treatment after it has been softened.
You might struggle to see why the level of sodium in water matters, but a gallon of softened water can have the same amount of salt in it as a slice of bread.
And the amount of salt included only increases depending on the geographical area that you live in.
You may also be thinking ‘What’s the harm in drinking softened water?’, so let’s take a look at the possible side effects that might occur if you drink softened hard water which once measured higher than 400PPM.
Side Effects of Drinking Softened Water
Now that you know what softened water is, you might still fail to see a reason why this type of water is considered unsafe to drink.
Of course, as we said earlier, not all softened water is unsafe to consume, it is only softened water that has a measurement of more than 400 PPM prior to softening.
But to highlight why it is important that you do not drink water that exceeds this level, we’ve gathered together some of the possible side effects that could occur if you were to drink water that is high in sodium.
The main health effect that has been linked with consuming softened water is increased blood pressure. Consuming a higher amount of salt is almost guaranteed to raise your blood pressure, especially if you are drinking a lot of softened water.
In those who do not suffer from their blood pressure, this will not cause a massive problem, but if you already struggle with high blood pressure then this could be detrimental to your health.
Increasing blood pressure which is already high can cause significant damage to the kidneys and eyes, so you should not drink softened water that is high in sodium if you already have high blood pressure.
How to Make Softened Water Drinkable
If the water in your home is hard and has a high sodium content after you soften it then you cannot drink it. Well, at least you cannot drink it in its current form, but if you treat it a little further then you can drink softened water.
The easiest way to make softened water safe to drink is to use a reverse osmosis filter. This is a type of water purification system that utilizes science to remove salt and other large particles from water that has been softened.
This filters the water, making it safe to drink even though it once contained a large amount of sodium or salt. Once this has been done, your softened water will be completely free of sodium and other harmful chemicals that could be bad for your health, leaving you with water that is perfectly safe to drink.
You can also consider using alternative water softeners that don’t use salt.
In short, you can only drink softened water if it had a hard water rating that was less than 400 PPM before you softened it.
If the number exceeded this then the water will contain a large amount of sodium, and you will have to use a reverse osmosis filter to make it safe to drink before you use the water.