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We’ve seen water softeners for sale on the market and read about the damage hard water can do to our fixtures, but is soft water safe?
In a nutshell, hard water contains a lot of manganese, calcium, and other types of minerals. These substances can dry out our skin and hair while also creating an impact on our health. So, if soft water is the solution, the question of its safety arises.
With a water softening system, you can get soft water for showering, cleaning, and drinking. This type of water provides several benefits: it can improve your skin and doesn’t leave soap scum.
The question remains, though; is soft water safe? No matter how tempting the sound of soft water is, there’s still some doubt about its safety. Let’s have a closer look at this issue now.
What Exactly Is Soft Water and Is Soft Water Safe?
Soft water is hard water that’s gone through a water softening system. For example, in places such as Arizona, the water is mineral-rich. It has limestone, gypsum, and chalk deposits.
While there might be some benefits of hard water (perhaps, drinking water rich in calcium could give you your daily quota of that mineral), the verdict is still against this substance.
If you shower and wash your dishes too often with this kind of water, you’ll soon be experiencing dry skin, stained utensils, and scummy bathrooms.
What’s more, hard water will increase the mineral buildup on your fixtures and fast forward the wear and tear on your household items.
Since most of us get our calcium and magnesium intake from our food intake, the extra minerals aren’t needed either. All of these are excellent reasons why water softeners are so popular.
Recommended Read: Water Softener Buying Guide – Things to Consider
Water softener systems use a filtering system that separates ions of minerals (especially magnesium and calcium) from hard water. The result is soft water, which won’t wreak havoc on your skin, hair, appliances, etc.
But what about drinking this type of water? Is soft water safe?
After all, a regular water softener will swap manganese and calcium ions for sodium ones. As a result, soft water has more sodium in it than hard water.
However, it does seem like soft water is a fairly safe option for drinking. Many people within the U.S. have already consumed soft water without realizing it and without any issues.
A lot of cities in the U.S. have hard water in their taps. As a result, most residences, businesses, and workplaces in almost every state have water softeners installed. This includes the water that’s intended for human and animal consumption.
Is the Sodium Content in Soft Water Safe?
The general answer is that you can safely drink soft water. However, there are a few outlying factors. If you want to make an informed decision regarding soft water, you should consider these as well.
First of all, the sodium. This isn’t the same as salt. Still, you should be aware that soft water has around 20 percent more sodium in it than the hard version.
It’s also a wise idea to ask your health practitioner about the usage of soft water if you’re dealing with specific health conditions such as high blood pressure.
Most people’s sodium intake in the U.S. is related to food. Soft water is on the list but at a low level. The suggested cap for sodium according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is 2,300 mg per day.
In one 8-ounce glass of soft water, we get 12.5 mg of sodium. This is hardly a considerable amount. Therefore, it’s probably safe to ignore the sodium content here.
If you’re worried about limiting sodium intake, it’s wise to watch your diet for better results. Some folks might have specific health issues, though. For those, we suggest being careful of any sort of sodium intake.
Ask your doctor “is soft water safe?” if the sodium content is making you worry more about consuming soft water.
Is Soft Water Salty (and What Can You Do About It)?
While it’s clear that we can safely drink soft water, the problem of whether we should do so is another matter. This confusion usually arises when we talk about the taste of soft water.
Let’s clear up one thing first; soft water isn’t meant to be salty. If your water softener is producing salty water, then it needs a proper setup and maintenance session.
The salty water usually only comes out when the system is in need of some servicing and fine-tuning. So, it’s best if you don’t drink salty water from a water softener system.
Soft water isn’t completely flavorless either; some like the taste, some don’t. The latter is in the majority but trying it once won’t hurt.
Even if you don’t like the taste of soft water, you might be able to get a company to install two kinds of taps in the sink. One will give you regular hard water while the other will provide soft water.
That means you can use hard water to drink and cook; and soft water for washing dishes, clothes, and your body.
Another good tip here: you can get a reverse osmosis water system to do away with the smell and taste of soft water.
Is There Such a Thing as a No-Salt Water Softener?
You might find numerous companies offering their water softeners and claiming that they soften water but don’t add sodium. The offer might seem tempting, especially when the company demonstrates how the water is cleaned with the help of magnets.
Unfortunately, such options are most likely scams. No legal and legitimate HVAC company will offer them. If you purchase one of these systems, you shouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t soften the water at all.
The only way to get softened water is to swap the ions in it. If you’re against using sodium in any form, there might be some that make use of potassium for crystallizing the minerals.
Is Soft Water Safe for Babies?
Hard water is usually not good for a baby to consume. That’s why you shouldn’t consider putting it in a baby’s formula. The baby’s immune and internal system isn’t strong enough to filter out all the hard minerals yet.
So, does all this mean that soft water is fine to use for babies? Some sources agree as they’ll recommend introducing the baby to a soft mineral water when they start eating solids.
Other experts say that a parent should go right to the hard water and drink that for as long as possible.
To get the best answer, you should visit your baby’s pediatrician and have a chat. Make sure to consult a doctor that you’re comfortable with and who doesn’t mind answering all your questions.
Is Soft Water Safe for Pets?
Soft water is good for kids, adults, and dogs as long as they’re in a healthy condition.
Of course, if your dog has a kidney or heart disease, even a moderate intake of sodium will put their health at risk. The best option here is to clear your doubts with your local veterinarian.
How to use soft water Safely for pets
If you’re going to use soft water for your pet, take heed. With some dogs having small bodies, the effect of soft water might be a bit serious.
To begin with, water softeners don’t put too high sodium content into water. We’ve discussed that before; the sodium content wouldn’t harm a healthy human. The same goes for most pets but you do want to make sure that the animal is as safe from harm as possible.
If your pet has a health condition that requires you to manage their sodium intake, ask their vet about their consuming soft water. In the meantime, you can get them used to soft water by mixing it with some other type of water.
If the pet is used to consuming hard water and is now cleared for drinking soft water, go for the change a bit gradually. If you change the water all of a sudden, this could be a shock to your pet’s stomach as well as their feelings.
What you might want to do is give the dog a mixture of tap and bottled water. Over time, slowly decrease the hard water ratio in the bowl or glass.
Is Soft Water Safe for Houseplants?
While softened water might be better for chores around the house and personal hygiene, it’s natural to be confused about watering your plants with soft water.
Since soft water has some sodium or potassium content, it’s not ideal to use it for watering plants. The relatively high sodium content can wreak havoc on the water balance in your houseplants.
What’s worse, it might even kill off the plants by making them think they’ve taken up enough water.
Plus, the salt in that soft water will cause damage to the plants and also cause a buildup over time. These buildups will then prevent more plants from growing. It might even throw off the pH in the soil.
However, that doesn’t mean you can never use your water for any kind of gardening if you’ve installed a water softening system. There are a few easy ways to get around this difficulty.
First off, you can install a bypass spigot so that you take water for your garden before it gets to the water softening system. That will also allow you to utilize hard water directly from the pipe without having to install separate taps for each kind of water.
A second way is to mix the softened water in distilled water or rainwater, which will reduce the effect of the sodium in the soft water, making it less damaging for the plants.
However, if you do this, stay aware of the possible salt build-ups over time. You’d have to regularly test your garden soil for its salt levels and balance things out if a problem occurs.
How to correct salt levels in your soil
If you’ve used softened water a lot in your garden or have used it for a long time, you might have to correct the soil’s salt levels. Too much salt will hinder the plant’s growth and might even prevent new life from flourishing there at all.
While there are no chemical options for reducing salt in the soil, you can easily flush it out by more watering. Of course, make sure that the watering isn’t done with softened water.
All you have to do is water the soil frequently. This is a leaching process that draws the salt out. Once that’s done, it will push the salt in even deeper or let it stay on the surface to get washed away.
While that might be an effective way to get your soil balanced again, the process will also flush out the essential minerals and nutrients every plant needs for growing and developing.
If you do decide to use softened water for your houseplants, diluting it first might be the best way to go. Though it might not be a necessity, the precaution is worthwhile for maintaining the pH balance and avoiding buildup in the soil.
Recommended Read: 6 Best Water Softeners on the Market
So, Is Soft Water Safe?
Is soft water safe? If this is a question that has been pestering you for some time, the discussion above was hopefully useful.
To summarize, the sodium content of soft water isn’t enough to cause harm to a human adult or a pet if they’re healthy otherwise. However, you may want to avoid it due to certain health conditions, both for yourself and your furry friends.
For babies, you should consult a medical professional first. That should be your first call if the soft water seems a bit off to you.
In any case, drinking soft water certainly has its benefits and challenges. You can try it for a few days and let everyone know about your experience.
Have you used soft water? If so, share your experience in the comments below. It might help others make a sound decision!