Is it safe to drink softened water?

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This is a common question we get asked whenever anyone approaches us regarding installing a water softener. Most people choose when having a water softener installed, to leave a drinking point available that provides non softened water to drink, however soft water is not harmful to drink.

Here are the facts to help you decide whether you would like to drink softened water or not.  

Why you may choose to drink softened water – sodium levels

Softened water is not harmful and is in the majority of cases, perfectly safe to drink. A water softener removes excessive minerals from your water that cause hard water and create limescale. In doing this a small amount of sodium is added to the water. Sodium is an essential part of our diet so providing the level of sodium is lower than 200mg per litre then it is deemed fine for consumption in the UK as per the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations (ref A). 

To put it into perspective for most homes with a water softener, the amount of sodium in 1 litre of water would equate to only 4% of an adults daily recommended intake of sodium ref B, nothing compared to a bag of Fish and Chips! 

Only a small amount of houses in the UK with extremely hard water would result in a level of sodium above this standard, this threshold is a hardness above 435 ppm. To check your water hardness use our How Hard is your water tool.

Why you may choose not to drink soft water – minerals and health

Our recommendation

We will always suggest to our customers that they keep a separate drinking water tap. This means you will still enjoy the many benefits that a water softener offers, while giving you the flexibility of having a non softened water supply for drinking. 

As the softener removes excessive minerals that give us hard water problems, this hardness as calcium and magnesium is not harmful to drink and is an easy way the body can absorb the minerals we need. There are several studies that have found positive links to hard water and heart health and reducing risk of stroke. (see ref C for articles).

There are two cases where non treated water should be used. One, people who are advised to follow a low sodium diet by their doctor. Two, if you are making baby formula you need to be aware that the sodium levels in formula are precisely balanced and the introduction of additional sodium through using softened water could disrupt the balance of the milk.

So for maximum health benefits you may choose to keep a tap to drink ordinary water. As part of our consultation we will check the water hardness at your property and give you the options and information you need to make an informed decision that is right for you.

How can I still drink normal water if I have a water softener installed?

This can be done by leaving the kitchen cold tap non softened or by providing an alternative type of tap to deliver the drinking water. More details about these options can be found on our article Drinking water tap options. 

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