Is softened Water Safe to Drink?
A water softener does not remove microbiological contaminants that cause illness and should only be used to treat drinking water that is considered to be microbiologically safe.
Water softeners replace ”hard” minerals with “soft” minerals such as sodium. The fact that sodium chloride (a Salt) is used to soften water raises a concern about the potential health risks for those persons suffering from hypertension, kidney disease or congestive heart failure.
As the incidence of hypertension increases and the number of individuals on sodium-restricted diets rises, water softener manufacturing companies have begun to promote the use of potassium chloride as a safe alternative to sodium chloride. However, potential health risks are also a concern where potassium chloride (also a salt) is used to soften water. Water containing high levels of sodium or potassium should not be used for drinking, making coffee, juice, infant formula or for cooking. You must note that not all water softeners leave large quantities of sodium. If you are going to be drinking the soft water a metered water softener should be recommended.
If you do not want this additional sodium or potassium in your diet, or if you are on a medically prescribed diet, a separate cold water line and faucet can be installed this bypasses the water softener. This allows for drinking and cooking water with unsoftened cold water or the installation of a purified drinking water system would be preferred.