Although the residential water treatment industry has been legitimately saying for years that softened water is perfectly safe to drink, most ‘officialdom’ has added caveats or been ambiguous with statements on the subject. As a result, at Friendly Water, we are asked from time to time if the salt levels in softened water make it safe to drink and the simple answer to this is “YES”.
There are a small number of places, in the UK, where water is extremely hard (over 425mg.l of calcium carbonate hardness). In these areas (eg. parts of East Anglia, Yorkshire etc.,) the level of sodium, introduced by the softening process, can exceed 200mg.l (milligrams of sodium in a litre of water). The Department of Health recommend that, at this level, softened water should not be used to reconstitute baby feeds, or by those restricted to a low daily intake of sodium for medical reasons. This situation does not arise in London, the Thames Valley and North Hampshire where hardness levels are lower (300 to 350 mg.l).
As Jeff Howell from the Telegraph states:
“Artificially softened water is not necessarily bad for you. People on low-sodium diets are sometimes told to avoid artificially softened water because the softening process replaces calcium ions with sodium ions, but that doesn’t mean it is “salty”, and a pint of softened water might contain less salt than a slice of bread”
Source:The Telegraph, Jeff Howell 28 Jan 2014 (Builder who offers advice on building and DIY)
On that note; for people on sodium-reduced diets, the use of a reverse osmosis system for drinking water and cooking water, will remove sodium along with any other impurities.
Now that the health implications of softened water are fully clarified the only aspect that sometimes arises is the subtle difference in taste. It is sometimes noticed that softened water is ’smoother’ on the palate whereas hard water has a traditional ’bite’ to it that most of us living in a hard water area are familiar with.
Most customers enjoy using softened water with hot drinks and general food cooking. Hard water masks flavours whereas softened water doesn’t. Therefore it makes much nicer tea and a stronger cup of coffee. Powdered soup mixes and hot chocolate benefit in the same way. Cooking, in general, is better all-round and there are no white stains left in non white saucepans. After boiling eggs the water can be emptied away and if you so desire the saucepan immediately put back in the cupboard !