Soft water is something that many of us may have in our homes- particularly if you have trouble with hard water in your pipes- but is it safe to drink?
In this article, we are going to be looking at whether soft water is safe to drink, as well as what soft water is in general and how it is made. Let’s get started.
What is Soft Water?
When we discuss soft water, we are referring to water that has a very low mineral count, particularly when it comes to magnesium and calcium. Soft water is the antithesis of hard water, which is caused by too many of these minerals within the water.
The typical water softening process involves removing any hardness from the water via an ion exchange, wherein the excess magnesium and calcium are replaced by equal parts sodium.
This makes soft water a form of water that has a low concentration of sodium ions but very little or no magnesium or calcium minerals within it.
What is The Process of Creating Soft Water?
We touched on this briefly above, but let’s get into the process in a little more detail. Traditional water softeners utilize that salt-based exchange of ions that we talked about, but how does this occur?
In traditional water softeners, there are two tanks. These are the resin tank and the brine tank. The resin tank is where the water is softened.
This happens when hard water enters the resin tank and the positively charged calcium and magnesium minerals stick to the surface of the resin beads because of the positively charged nature of the minerals in contrast to the negative charge from the beads.
When this happens, sodium chloride ions with a positive charge become released from the media bed of the tank and into the water. This is how the magnesium and calcium minerals are swapped out for sodium chloride, leaving the water softened.
What is The Sodium Content of Softened Water?
One of the most common worries to come about when it comes to drinking softened water is the sodium content due to those sodium chloride ions.
However, this kind of sodium- otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate- is not something that you can taste in the water, such as sea salt or table salt.
The worry of this stems from the health issues that come with high levels of sodium in the diet, such as an increase in blood pressure, which can lead to strokes and heart attacks. However, there is good news to be had when it comes to drinking soft water!
You don’t need to worry about it being unsafe to drink or causing these kinds of health problems.
So long as the hard water- which becomes soft water- does not have more than 200 mg of sodium, it will be perfectly safe to drink.
That being said, the sodium chloride does not actually come into contact with the water during the water softening process.
Sodium chloride will sometimes make its way into softened water simply as a naturally occurring side effect of the chemical process that causes purification.
On average, a standard, eight-ounce glass of water that has been softened contains about 1% of the standard daily intake of sodium for an adult, so you can be sure that there isn’t too much to worry about when it comes to drinking softened water.
Which Is Better To Drink, Soft Water or Hard Water?
When it comes to which is better for people to drink, hard water has more benefits than soft.
This is because the minerals within hard water- magnesium, calcium, and sometimes limestone, and chalk- actually have some health benefits, being connected to lower levels of diseases that affect the cardiovascular system.
Not only that, but hard water is said to have a better taste too in comparison to soft water thanks to not having sodium content.
Despite its preferable nature in terms of drinking water, hard water is not good for your plumbing, with various negative effects caused by hard water in your pipes such as limescale and damage.
Hard water can also lead to dry skin and irritation due to its hard nature.
As mentioned, soft water isn’t as tasty or beneficial to drink because of its sodium content.
Although it isn’t a dangerous amount, soft water is still not advised to be used as the number one drinking source in the home, particularly for those who may have heart or cardiovascular problems.
That being said, soft water is great for your home, as it allows your plumbing to be far more efficient. Soft water is also excellent for the skin and can lead to a reduction in electricity costs.
The bottom line is that whilst both hard and soft water are consumable, it is probably better to drink hard water rather than soft water.
So, Can You Drink Soft Water?
To finally get back to the question at hand, the answer is yes! You can drink soft water should you want to.
The sodium content within soft water is only very small and not enough to cause too much of a negative impact on your health.
That being said, it is advised that you do not drink soft water if you have heart problems, blood problems or cardiovascular issues.
This is simply because too much sodium in the diet can lead to these kinds of health issues and if you already suffer from these problems, then it is best to avoid any unnecessary consumption of sodium, no matter how small that intake might be.
Soft water can also interfere if you are on a low sodium diet and can be unhealthy for babies. So, while soft water can be consumed, it is best avoided by certain people.