Drinking water from a water softener

Drinking water from a water softener system is not recommended. In most cases you should never drink soft water that comes from a water softener. By its very nature a water softener is designed to replace hardness with sodium. It is called a one for one ionic exchange. For example if you have 200 PPM of hardness it will often be converted to at least 200 PPM of sodium. Our tests show you can expect an additional 20% in residual salt and sodium after that exchange in many cases. In other words 200 PPM of hardness could be be replaced with 240 PPM of sodium.

Drinking water from a water softener

The EPA maximum contaminant level (MCL) says that the maximum sodium allowed in water is 30 PPM, but that is very hard to find in their information. They will likely raise that number at some point to enable municipal water supplies to meet the standard more easily. Most labs set the maximum at 150 PPM. That is an extremely high number in our opinion, especially for frail people or people with high blood pressure. PPM (parts per million) and MGL (milligrams per liter) are the same.

AHA says max is 20 ppm

Many states and organizations are now passing laws or are considering state laws limiting sodium to far lower amounts. We think anything over 20-30 PPM or MGL is too high. The American Heart Association sets 20 as its limit for safe water for people, especially those with weekend immunity systems or other heart or medical issues.

We stated earlier on this page that a water softener usually is a 1 for 1 sodium/hardness exchange. In all fairness we have noticed that some water softener brands can be more efficient than this.

For example one of our tests showed that a Premium RainSoft Water Softener, if equipment with their finest resin, can often somewhat lower the amount of sodium that is converted by their softener, but it is still unadvisable to drink from ANY water softener. You should always use reverse osmosis in the kitchen ($200), or drink bottled water if you have a water softener. Even with the instance of RainSoft, as they use independent dealers, you are always at the mercy of the dealer's honesty on what type of mineral he chooses to use in his water softeners. RainSoft has different grades or quality of water softener minerals or resins.

Convert GPG to PPM or MG/L

If your test results are in GPG (grains per gallon) then you multiply the GPG times 17.1 to determine what the PPM number is. For example: 10 GPG converts to 171 PPM. 171 PPM of hardness is higher than the EPA maximum of 150 so the water would be beyond the MCL (maximum contaminant level) for safe drinking water. Using a water softener as an iron filter greatly increases this number and adds a great deal more residual sodium to the water. That is one of the many reasons you should never use a water softener as an iron filter.

If you have an iron problem you should use an iron filter. Then if the water is hard you would add a water softener after that. It is a common marginal practice for in home water treatment salesman to use a water softener as an iron filter. The iron will damage a water softener over time and will probably create expensive service calls; which turns into a lot of unnecessary expense with the company selling the water softener. It is a shame that money means more to them than your family's health.

1 for 1 Ionic Exchange

The main point is this: If the water is high in hardness then once it goes through the water softener it will be high in sodium. If it is not high in hardness then you did not need a water softener to begin with. DON'T drink water that comes out of a water softener. Even if it should be below the MCL for safe drinking water, most people do not want unnecessary amounts of sodium in their drinking water. You don't have to take our word for it either. Just take a sample of any water from a water softener that has high hardness going to it and take it to a lab to test for sodium and salt. The results will speak for themselves.


If the water is hard enough that you need a water softener then you must drink bottled water which is very expensive and often the bottled water is of low quality. Or you can add reverse osmosis ($199.87) to the kitchen sink and refrigerator to remove the sodium. Beware of in home sales companies selling reverse osmosis for $500 to $1500. There is no need for such ridiculous expenditures.

There are some people who say the water from reverse osmosis takes necessary minerals from the water. If you are one of these people, we sell a mineral cartridge to add to reverse osmosis that puts minerals back in the water and makes the water more alkaline for under $30. You can find that mineral cartridge by clicking on this link: Reverse Osmosis.


Beware of any company who tells you it is ok to drink the water from a water softener. Beware of any company who does not at least warn you NOT to drink water from their water softener. And that means ANY water softener. Also beware of companies selling magnets, electrodes, NANO technology, SWC components, GMX magnets, or any other gimmick where they say their gadget will give you the same soft water a conventional softener will. They simply DO NOT give you real soft water.

There are numerous companies selling this sort of marginal technology locally and online. There are some water softener substitutes that can be acquired to replace sodium salt but there are drawbacks to these as well. Please read the information about Potassium, it explains this option in detail. For the most part we don't recommend drinking water that uses the water softener substitute called potassium chloride.

Please do not hesitate to contact one of our expert techs for a discussion of this topic. They are not allowed to ask you to buy anything or pressure you in any way. And, our techs DO NOT work on commission either. They just answer your questions and get you started in the right direction. You never have to buy anything at WaterFiltersOfAmerica.com to get good, honest and free advice.

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