"Can I Drink Soft Water?"

When our members are visiting customers, one of the most regularly asked questions about water softening is “Can I drink softened water”?. For most people, the simple answer to this is yes, drinking softened water is perfectly safe to drink.

When our members are visiting customers, one of the most regularly asked questions about water softening is “Can I drink softened water?”

For most people, the simple answer to this is yes, drinking softened water is safe. However, there are a few exceptions to this, which are outlined below. For everybody else the decision to drink softened water should be made on whether or not you like the taste of the water. If you decide you would rather drink un-softened water then there are options for you .

In this article we will explain

  • What happens to your water when it is softened.
  • What are the Drinking Water Regulations?
  • Making Great British Tea.
  • What are my options for un-softened drinking water?
  • Are there any other considerations relating to softened water ?

What happens to your water when it is softened?

When water is softened, all the hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium) are removed from the water using a process called ion exchange. The process works by replacing the hardness minerals with sodium minerals. The amount of sodium that remains in your water depends on the amount of hardness that has been removed from the water.  A water softener will add 46mg/litre of sodium for every 100mg/litre of calcium carbonate (hardness minerals) taken out of the water. So, for example, If the water hardness is 300 mg/litre (also called 300 parts per million), a softener will add 138 mg of sodium to every litre of water. To put this into perspective, the UK Government recommends you drink two litres of water every day. In this example, this means you would consume 276 mg of sodium from your water. According to the NHS, the recommended maximum daily allowance (RDA) of sodium from all food and drink is 2,400mg. In this example, it would mean that just 11.5% of your RDA for sodium would come from drinking water. A small amount when compared to many high sodium foods like cheese and many processed foods.

The Drinking Water Regulations   

We all need sodium in our diet, it contributes to the efficient functioning of every cell in your body. However the UK Government advises that too much sodium can increase blood pressure. Therefore the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations set a maximum of 200 mg/litre (or 200 ppm)  of sodium in drinking water. This means that as long as you live in an area where the hardness of the water is below 400ppm, then there is no need to have an unsoftened drinking tap. The water hardness in most areas of the UK is below 400ppm. Rest assured your local, independent water softener expert will test your water hardness before a water softener is installed and give you great advice on your drinking water choices.

MAKING A PERFECT CUP OF TEA WITH SOFT WATER.

There are many factors in making a truly great cup of tea, warming the teapot, the quality of the tea, brewing times but what is often overlooked is the very water we make it with.
Tea connoisseurs agree that water quality is as critical as tea quality. Hard water can create a film that floats in the cup or pot due to the flavonoids in tea reacting with Calcium Hydroxide in hard water and several experts believe that hard water is simply unsuitable for tea. For example, iced tea made with hard water will turn cloudy upon cooling.

The Technical Bit

Soft water is also a good natural solvent, when the limescale content in water is lower, it improves the dissolution of aromatics, which is vital in tea (and coffee) making. Due to this property, it even affects cooking, particularly when making aromatic sauces, stocks or gravy, soft water will uptake flavours more readily than hard water.
Conclusion
Tea made with soft water will be stronger, cleaner in the cup and mouth, stain crockery less and using less tea will save you money.

What are my options for drinking un-softened water ?

If you do not wish to drink softened water for health reasons or simply because you don’t like the taste of softened water then you do have some options:

  • You can have a separate drinking water tap installed which remains on the mains (un-softened ) water supply. This tap can also be connected to a Water Filter if you would like to remove the chlorine to make the water taste better. This option does depend on where your mains water supply enters the house in relation to where the water softener is installed. So, for example, if your main supply comes in under the kitchen sink, and this is where the water softener is sited, then it is straightforward to provide you with un-softened drinking water. However, if the mains supply and water softener are in the garage, then it can be difficult to provide un-softened water to the kitchen sink.

  • Alternatively, you could have a Reverse Osmosis Purifier installed, in addition to a water softener. This product will remove the sodium (and many other dissolved impurities) from your softened water, providing you with purified drinking water, but of course it does increase the cost of the installation.        

  • You could just drink bottled water but this will increase your carbon footprint and is expensive versus the other options.
Are there any other considerations relating to softened water?

The benefits of softened water are considerable but there are a couple of instances where you should not use softened water:

-  For watering some indoor plants or your garden.

-  Some fish may require hard water in their tanks. If in doubt please check with your fish supplier.

-  Some Irons that are self-descaling are designed for use with hard water. Please check the manufacturer’s instructions to be sure.

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written by

Simon Howton

Owner of Sterling Water Softeners
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