Today’s article was stimulated by some questions from readers that have a water softener in their home. A brine tank is an important component of a water softening system. For those that don’t know, a brine tank holds salt and fills with water to make brine solution. When the water softener automatically regenerates (rejuvenates) it uses the brine solution to do so. There is always water sitting inside the brine tank at all times. The water in the brine tank might be safe, but it also may not be safe depending on a few factors. I will bullet point them for you.
- If the Brine tank is full of salt then the water in the brine tank will have a high concentration of salt. Just like we find in the ocean, high salinity serves as an obstacle to the growth of bacteria, viruses and other organic organisms. It doesn’t kill them, but it can prevent them from multiplying or getting worse if they are present in your tap water.
- If the brine tank does not contain enough salt then the salinity will be low and organisms can grow
- If your source water is from a well or not chlorinated the water in your Brine tank is more susceptible to the growth of harmful organisms, Many well water sources contain iron feeding bacteria. In the absence of chlorinated water, there is potential for unwanted organisms in your brine tank.
- If the water softener does not regenerate regularly the water inside the brine tank will stand for what can be an extended period of time. If we add the variables of non-chlorinated water, iron feeding bacteria, and other factors like humidity, air contamination, and mold in the air, and a brine tank can indeed provide health hazards to the user.
- If rock salt is used instead of the 99.9% pure type offered by companies like Culligan, Morton, and Rainsoft, the Brine tank will accumulate dirt and potentially hazardous contaminants from this inferior salt.
Under the ideal conditions of frequent softener regeneration, chlorine in the feedwater, high purity salt, a dry location with clean air, a brine tank is safe. However, a combination of the conditions listed above can indeed cause the brine tank to be a health hazard.