Water softeners are a necessity in many parts of the US. A water softener removes Calcium and Magnesium from water and replaces it with sodium, which the unit gets from using salt pellets (NaCl).
Doctors often warn that people on low sodium diets, or that have high blood pressure should be cautions when drinking soft water. This warning is sound advice, but depending on the type of soft water involved, it may or may not apply.
In places Places like Memphis, and others like NYC the water is actually naturally soft and does not contain much sodium whatsoever. Drinking this type of soft water is perfectly fine regardless of your health situation. Always remember, soft water doesn’t tell you how much sodium is in the water, it only tells you how much Calcium and Magnesium are in the water. Sodium levels have nothing to do with hardness.
The caveat here is that in places with naturally hard water, a water softener removes the calcium and magnesium. The added sodium is merely a by product of the softening process. The amount of sodium a water softener puts back into the tap water is dependent on how much hardness there was to begin with in the first place. As the source water is harder, so then will the softener put in more sodium into the resulting drinking water.
For every 1 part of hardness in the feed water, the softener adds 2 parts of sodium. Let’s take a quick look at how a water softener affects a few different water sources.
Memphis City Water – 34 mg/l Hardness – Softened water would have 68 mg/l of sodium
Nashville City Water – 200 mg/l hardness – Softened Water would have 400 mg/l of sodium
Phoenix City Water – 350 mg/l hardness – Softened Water would have 800 mg/l of sodium
Clearly, you can see that in places where the water is naturally soft, even the addition of a water softener is not going to result in alarm levels of sodium. However, in some places, drinking large amounts of softened water, (2 liters per day or more) could substantially affect your diet and health.
So, when it comes to drinking soft water, knowing if it is naturally soft or not is vitally important to your health.
HOW A WATER SOFTENER WORKS