The short answer is no, conventional water softeners should not make your purified water taste salty. Water softeners utilize sodium to help with the purification process and they do add a small amount to the water, however, the taste should be imperceptible to human taste buds.
What is Sodium?
Sodium is an element, one of two that makes up table salt, the other being chlorine. Sodium or Na is part of the alkali metal group, and in moderate amounts, it is essential for your health. An electrolyte, sodium helps to regulate bodily fluids and support the functioning of the nerves and muscles. The biggest problem with sodium is that too much of it can lead to high blood pressure and health concerns. A healthy adult generally needs about 186 milligrams of sodium a day, but since sodium is found in just about everything we eat, maintaining such low levels takes careful consideration. The USDA recommends that adults have no more than 2300 milligrams of sodium every day. That’s about a teaspoon of table salt.
The amount of sodium in everyday foods may surprise some people. An 8-ounce glass of reduced-fat milk has 120 mg, though the same size serving of orange juice has about 25 mg and a can of soda has 40 to 45 mg of sodium. A slice of bread can have as much as 230 mg of sodium.
Sodium in Water Softeners
A conventional water softener works by purifying the water in your home’s freshwater line, through a tank full of resin beads, in a bath of saltwater. There, sodium ions are swapped for calcium and magnesium ions that contribute to hard water. The purified water then proceeds to the fixtures in the house or to the water heater. How much sodium is added to the water depends on the hardness of the water. Water is considered hard if it has over 7.06 grains of minerals per gallon of water. Very hard water has over 10.57 grains per gallon. To calculate how much extra sodium is in a cup of water, take the grains per gallon, multiply it by sodium added per gallon, and divide it by 16 cups. Water with a 10 gpg number that has 30 milligrams of sodium added per gallon will add 18.75 extra mg of sodium to a cup of water when it’s put through a water softener.
Why Have a Water Softener?
The excess calcium and magnesium in hard water eventually build up in plumbing pipes. They harden into a crust called limescale, which can lower water pressure and eventually shorten the working life of the pipes. Limescale can also attack appliances such as your dishwasher, washing machine, coffee maker and the ice maker in your refrigerator. Hard water leaves just-laundered clothes dingy and gray and leaves hair feeling not quite clean after it has been washed. Soap doesn’t lather up but produces scum in hard water and leaves rings in the bathtub and the sink, that are difficult to clean. Hard water also makes the water in swimming pools cloudy and unappealing.
If you think your water softener might be making your water taste salty or you would like to learn more about the relationship between sodium and water purification, please reach out to our friendly and knowledgeable team!