Do water softeners add sodium to drinking water?

Last updated on: June 1, 2024.

 Water softeners are a popular choice for an effective water treatment system that is affordable and easy to set up. Water softeners are mostly salt-based, with a few exceptions. They use an ion exchange technology to replace harmful particles in your water with safer alternatives.

Hard water is what we call water that contains a vast number of dissolved minerals, most notably magnesium and calcium. These minerals can build up over time to cause long-term damage to your household. Water softeners exchange these harmful particles for beneficial minerals. 

The ion exchange that takes place in a water softener replaces minerals like magnesium and calcium in water with sodium or potassium. While this qualifies your water as soft water, do you still wonder how exactly this benefits you? Does the quality of water change, and what impact does sodium-rich water have?

If you have these questions, this article will seek to answer them as we explore more about the sodium content in your drinking water. 

How much sodium is in softened water

The amount of sodium in your soft water depends on the hardness levels of your water. More sodium gets exchanged if your water has a higher level of hardness. You can get an idea of the amount of sodium in your water with the following formula.

gpg hardness x 2 = mg of Sodium in an 8 oz glass.

If your water is very hard and measures around 20 gpg, then you can expect around 40 mg of sodium in a glass of water. If your water is not as hard and measures around 10gpg, you’ll only have approximately 20 mg of sodium in one glass of water.

Does reverse osmosis filter out sodium from water softener?

Reverse osmosis systems can filter out sodium along with several other contaminants, and reverse osmosis water is considered neutral. It is absolutely free from any type of mineral or contaminant. It also means that reverse osmosis water does not have any beneficial minerals found naturally in water.

The benefit is that every disease-causing and harmful mineral or contaminant is eliminated. Suppose you are someone who is particular about not having sodium in your water. In that case, a reverse osmosis system will ensure that your water is mineral and contaminant free.

How to remove sodium from softened water?

Replace salt with potassium chloride

One way you can remove sodium from water is to replace salt in your water softener with potassium chloride. The operation of your device is the same, but you get more potassium in your water rather than sodium.

Use a reverse osmosis filter

Another way you can remove sodium from softened water is to use an osmosis filter in conjunction with your water softener. Using a reverse osmosis filter can make your drinking water of a higher quality.

What does the sodium from water softeners do to the body?

The sodium found in soft water has no health implications for people who have no record of medical problems and are generally healthy. The Dietary Guidelines for America s recommends a daily dose of no more than 2300 mg of sodium.

On average, water softeners add 20 mg of sodium per glass of water. It shows that drinking up to ten glasses of water per day increases your sodium intake to only 200 gms extra. It is well within recommended thresholds and poses no risk to healthy individuals.

While the sodium content from softened water is safe for most people, there are a few exceptions. People who are hypertensive or have high blood pressure should limit their sodium intake.

High sodium diets also worsen illnesses like type 2 diabetes and kidney disease. People predisposed to these illnesses should incorporate low sodium diets and avoid softened water from salt-based softeners.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do brita filters remove sodium from softened water?

There is no evidence that a Brita filter can remove sodium from softened water. Brita products use a carbon cartridge to improve the taste and odor of your water. They can also remove some heavy metals, but they cannot remove dissolved minerals in your water.

Why water softeners need salt?

Water softeners rely on a technology called ion exchange to soften your water. In this process, positively charged ions like magnesium and calcium in hard water are replaced with sodium ions from your water softener. Salt is chemically known as sodium chloride and is the most common form of sodium. Placing salt in your water softener’s brine tank provides the sodium ions needed for ion exchange, which is why we use salt in water softeners. 

How to make softened water taste better?

One way to improve the taste of your water is to use potassium chloride instead of salt in your water softener. The water softener works the same way but uses potassium instead of sodium. Potassium has health benefits and will improve the taste of your water. Still, it can also be expensive to maintain as potassium chloride is not as affordable as salt.

Remineralization is another popular way to improve the taste of water. Water treatment systems like reverse osmosis systems remove all the particles in water, including beneficial minerals. Remineralization allows you to add only helpful minerals to your water while avoiding contaminants and harmful particles.

Which is better for a water softener sodium chloride or potassium chloride?

Sodium chloride or salt is commonly used in water softeners as it is more accessible and affordable. Maintenance is easier, and you will never be short of salt. The sodium levels from your water softener are usually within safe ranges but can be unwanted if you are trying to cut sodium from your diet.

Potassium chloride is not as accessible and is costlier than sodium chloride. Small doses of potassium are good for the body. Your water will taste better than water with sodium in it. Soft water with potassium in it is safer for people with medical conditions. Potassium is gentler on the environment and can be used with plants, unlike softened water with sodium. These benefits come at the cost of increased expenses in terms of maintenance and operation of your water softener. 

Should people with sodium restricted diet have a water softener?

A majority of water softeners are salt-based and increase the amount of sodium in softened water. While this usually isn’t a problem, it can cause consequences for people on sodium-restricted diets. Therefore, if you are on a sodium-restricted diet, it is best to avoid salt-based water softeners.

This doesn’t mean that people with restricted sodium diets cannot enjoy the benefits of softened water. You can use potassium chloride in our water softener instead of salt to enjoy soft water without an additional sodium intake. Any water treatment system that is not salt-based will be ideal.


There are several water treatment systems that operate with different technologies. While you may be familiar with the benefits of soft water, you should know its properties after it is softened.

The fundamental difference comes from using salt or potassium chloride in your water softener. It has also been proven that the amount of sodium in softened water is not too high to cause harm. Nevertheless, it is good to know the impact of a water softener on your water supply. 

About The Author

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Judith— a passionate water treatment specialist — is a waste water management enthusiast, clean drinking water advocate, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about various water equipments. Her work was mentioned in countless notable water associations. Previously she was an editor at Water Alliance.