If you have a water softener in your home or you’re considering installing one, it’s important to be aware of the side effects of drinking softened water. Most people know that softened water offers many benefits such as eliminating pipe fouling, protecting appliances from damage, and improving your laundry results. However, some people may not be aware of the potential side effects that come with drinking softened water.
Before we begin our discussion on the potential side effects of drinking softened water, it’s important to note that softened water is safe to drink. Millions of people have been drinking softened water for years without any adverse effects. However, some people may experience gastrointestinal discomfort, especially if they’re not used to drinking softened water.
In this blog post, we will discuss the side effects of drinking softened water, what causes them, and provide some tips on how to avoid them.
What is Soft Water
Soft water is water that has been treated to remove hardness. Hard water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium, which can cause a variety of problems such as pipe build-up, decreased soap efficiency, and scale build-up on appliances.
Water softeners work by exchanging the hardness minerals in the water for sodium or potassium ions. This process is known as ion exchange.
Read my ultimate guide on water softeners for more information.
Hardness is a measure of the amount of calcium and magnesium in water. It is measured in grains per gallon (GPG).
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that the hardness of water varies across the country. In general, water is considered hard if it contains more than 7 GPG. Soft water, on the other hand, contains less than 3 GPG
Hard water is not a health hazard, but it can be a nuisance because it can cause:
- Soap to lather poorly, leaving a film on skin and clothing
- Laundry to become dingy
- Dishes to become spotty
- Pipes and plumbing fixtures to become clogged
Removing hardness from water
Hardness is removed from water through a process called ion exchange. This process exchanges the hardness minerals in the water for sodium or potassium ions.
Water softeners have vessels filled with a resin that adsorbs calcium and magnesium ions (hardness). As the water flows through the media, it is “softened” as the calcium and magnesium ions are removed.
When the resin is spent, the softener regenerates. During regeneration, brine (salty water) is used to flush the calcium and magnesium ions off the resin and replace them with sodium or potassium ions.
Negative Side Effects of Softened Water
If you’re concerned about the potential side effects of drinking softened water, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Many homeowners are unaware of the potential side effects that come with drinking softened water. However, softened water is safe to consume, and millions of people have been drinking it for years without any adverse effects.
Softened water may cause diarrhea
The most common side effect of drinking softened water is gastrointestinal discomfort. This condition usually occurs because people aren’t used to drinking softened water.
The most common side effects of drinking softened water include:
• Vomiting (this condition is very rare)
If you experience any of these side effects, try drinking bottled water until your body adjusts to the softened water. You should drink more fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated and eat foods that are easy on your stomach.
Increased sodium intake
Many people are concerned that drinking softened water will increase their sodium intake. This is especially troubling for people who are on a sodium-restricted diet.
While it’s true that softened water does contain sodium, the amount is very low – less than 50 milligrams (mg) per liter. To put this into perspective, one slice of bread contains about 147 mg of sodium. So, drinking a liter of softened water is equivalent to eating less than half a slice of bread in terms of sodium intake.
It is recommended that a health American consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day. Drinking 8 glass of water will add about 10% of your recommended daily allowance.
However, if you are limiting your sodium intake for medical reasons, softened water may be a problem for you.
The most common type of water softener uses sodium to remove hardness. However, some people may prefer to use a potassium-based water softener. Potassium is a more expensive option, but it has some advantages over sodium, including improved taste and the fact that it is less likely to contribute to high blood pressure.
Read my article on salt-free water softeners.
Inhibits absorption of essential minerals
Water softeners remove calcium and magnesium. These two minerals are essential for human health. They play a role in bone formation, muscle function, and blood pressure regulation.
When you drink softened water, you aren’t getting the calcium and magnesium your body needs. Some people worry that they will experience adverse health effects as a result.
However, people who eat a healthy diet get all of the minerals they need from the food they eat. If you’re concerned about not getting enough calcium and magnesium, talk to your doctor or dietitian.
Other Drawbacks of Softened Water
In addition to the potential side effects discussed above, there are some other negative aspects of softened water that you should consider. None of these drawbacks are deal breakers (in my opinion), but they’re worth mentioning.
• Softened water doesn’t mix well with soap, which can make it difficult to get sudsy when you’re taking a shower or washing your hands.
• Softened water can also cause soap residue to build up on your skin and clothing. This can leave your skin feeling dry and your clothes looking
Some people complain that softened water has an “off” taste. Others note that is lacks any flavor at all. It has also been described as having a metallic aftertaste.
This is because the minerals that water softening removes – calcium and magnesium – have a pleasant taste. When these elements are removed, it changes the flavor and “feel” of the water.
One thing you can do is use the softened water for bathing and washing your clothes, but not for drinking. This would require a little bit of extra plumbing, but it may be worth it if you don’t like the taste of softened water.
Water feels slippery
Some people say that water from a water softener feels “slippery.” This is because the calcium and magnesium ions that give hard water its characteristic feel are removed during the softening process.
This can take some getting used to, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, many people prefer the feel of softened water.
You may find that the improved lather you get from soap and the brighter clothes you get from doing laundry more than make up for the unusual feel.
Cost and maintenance requirements
Water softeners can be expensive, and they require regular maintenance. The cost of a water softener will depend on the size, type, and brand you choose.
You’ll also need to add salt (or potassium) to the water softener on a regular basis. This can be a hassle, and it’s one more thing you have to remember to do.
Water softeners also need to be adjusted and optimized to ensure they’re working at their peak capability.
Overall, I think the benefits of softened water outweigh the drawbacks. But, ultimately, the decision is up to you.
Generates brine waste
Water softeners use salt (or potassium) to remove hardness from water. This process creates a highly concentrated brine solution.
The brine is then flushed down the drain. This can increase the amount of waste water produced by your home, which is something you may want to consider if you’re on a septic system.
Over time, the amount of salt in your leach field can become quite high. As long as your drinking water well isn’t near the septic system – and it shouldn’t be! – this shouldn’t be a problem for you.
Advantages of Softened Water
Having a water softener provides many advantages. Water softeners remove hard water minerals, which cause a lot of problems for your plumbing, your appliances, and your hair and skin.
Continue reading to learn about the advantages of softened water.
Protects plumbing from damage
The most obvious advantage of softened water is that it will prolong the life of your plumbing and appliances. This is because the hard water minerals that are removed by the softener will no longer be able to build up in your pipes and damage them.
In addition, softened water can also prevent these minerals from depositing on your fixtures and appliances. This can help to extend their lifespan and keep them looking new for longer.
Reduces scaling in pipes
One of the most common problems caused by hard water is scaling. This happens when the hard water minerals build up in your pipes and reduce water flow.
Softened water can help to reduce or eliminate this problem because it removes these minerals from your water. This can increase water pressure, provide higher flow rates, and improve the overall quality of your plumbing.
Eliminates water stains
Another problem that is caused by hard water is water stains. These occur when the minerals in hard water deposit on your fixtures and appliances.
Softened water can help to eliminate these stains because it removes the minerals that cause them. This can help to keep your fixtures and appliances looking new for longer.
Clothes are cleaner and brighter
Another advantage of softened water is that it can make your clothes cleaner and brighter. This is because the hard water minerals can deposit on your clothing and make them look dull.
Softened water will remove these minerals, which can help to brighten your clothes and make them look new for longer. In addition, it can also help to extend the life of your clothing by preventing the hard water minerals from damaging them.
Improved hair and skin condition
Finally, softened water can also improve your hair and skin condition. This is because hard water can dry out your skin and hair.
Softened water will remove the minerals that cause these problems, which can help to improve your hair and skin condition. In addition, it can also help to make your hair softer and less brittle by preventing the hard water minerals from damaging it.
What happens if you drink softened water?
If you’re concerned about the potential side effects of drinking softened water, you should talk to your local water provider. Some people experience mild stomach problems when they first start drinking softened water. Over time, they get used to it and the problems usually go away.
Is drinking softened water healthy?
There are a few things you should know about the potential side effects of drinking softened water. Water softeners add a small amount of sodium to your water. If you’re on a salt-restricted diet, then this may be a problem for you.
Ultimately, whether or not drinking softened water is healthy for you depends on a number of factors, including your own personal health history and dietary needs. So, if you’re worried about whether or not drinking softened water is right for you, it’s best to speak with your doctor.
Can drinking softened water cause constipation?
Some people who drink softened water may experience constipation because the softened water lacks certain minerals that are usually found in hard water, such as magnesium and calcium. These minerals are necessary for healthy digestion. Usually, the gastrointestinal problems are caused by the change in water, and not what is in it (or not in it).
Now that you know the potential side effects of drinking softened water, you can make an informed decision about whether or not it’s right for you. As we discussed, softened water can cause stomach problems in the short term. Usually, these issues go away once your body adjusts.
Some people are concerned about sodium, especially those with hypertension who are limiting salt intake. If you’re worried about the sodium content in softened water, talk to your doctor or local water provider.
In general, drinking softened water is safe and can have many benefits for your home. If you have any concerns, be sure to speak with your doctor or local water provider. Thanks for reading!