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    September 08, 2022 4 min read

    Does Softened Water Affect Blood Pressure?

    old woman taking pills for blood pressure

    Many people know that a water softener works by replacing hard water minerals - like calcium and magnesium - with “soft” sodium ions in your water supply. However, exactly how much sodium is added to your drinking water is not always clear.

    For those high blood pressure or on a low-sodium diet, it is an important question to ask - How much sodium does softened water contain?

    Well, it all depends on how much “hardness” was in the water to begin with. The softener “exchanges” about an equal amount of sodium for the initial hardness. If your water is very hard - meaning it has more calcium, magnesium, and possibly other contaminants - the water softener will have to replace more hardness particles with sodium. To decide if you need a home water softener, learn about the hardness of your home’s water.

    If your water hardness level is 15 grains per gallon, that means there is 28.12 milligrams of sodium in each 8 oz. glass of water you drink. In reality, the amount of sodium is fairly little, to put it into perspective, a standard slice of white bread has between 80 and 230 mg of sodium.

    As always, it's best to consult with your doctor before making any serious changes to your diet.

    Is it okay to drink softened water?

    old woman pouring water

    Water softening via the ion exchange principle introduces a small amount of sodium into the water - in short, every calcium or magnesium ion is replaced by a sodium ion. 

    In itself, sodium is not considered a risk. We all need sodium in our diet, because it is critical to the overall function of every cell in our body. However, the government advise that too much sodium drives up blood pressure which can lead to an unhealthy heart. Therefore, the Canadian Water Quality Regulations sets a 200 ppm (or 200 mg/litre) maximum for sodium content in drinking water. 

    Here is a statement from the Water Quality Association (WQA)

    There are no health problems caused by ion exchange water softening. The chloride ions are not added to the water. They merely pass through the resin bed during the regeneration cycle and are discharged with the regeneration waste as calcium chloride and magnesium chloride.
    Sodium ions are added to the softened water in place of the calcium and magnesium that has been removed---but at an inconsequential, minute rate. Each 1 mg/L of calcium carbonate water hardness removed adds only 0.46mg/L of sodium.
    Water with over 1200 mg/L of total water hardness would still be classified after ion exchange softening as a "Low Sodium" beverage by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration food labeling regulations because of the trivial amount of added sodium.


    In summary, sodium in softened water is not a significant contributor to your intake. Health professionals actually consider soft water a "very low sodium" beverage that is unlikely to affect blood pressure at all. If you are on a low sodium diet or at risk of high blood pressure, the most important step is to watch your diet: 90 percent of the sodium consumed in your diet comes from salt and that we get most of that (about 75 percent) from processed and restaurant foods. The amount added in-home cooking accounts for most of the rest.

    Is the water softener salt bad for high blood pressure?

    The amount of sodium is fairly little, as much as you would find in a slice of bread. But for extremely hypertensive people, it is always best to consult with your doctor about drinking softened water. Of course, doctors do say that the most effective way to reduce one's sodium intake is to cut back on salty processed foods and table salt.

    If you are someone who is on a low sodium diet but still want the benefits of
    water softener, here are some things you can do to combat sodium in your water include:Solutions?

    Here are a couple of options:

    1. Switching to a non-salt based softening system: One solution is to use potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride pellets to soften your water.
    2. Or you can always have your kitchen water tap taken off of the water softener so your tap water runs with hard water instead. You can have the installation technician use a strategic method of installation that softens the rest of the water that flows through your home pipes but bypasses the water of a certain tap you use most for your drinking water. Having a plumber disconnect the cold water system from your softener, so that only hot water (used for bathing and laundry) is softened
    3. Another option is a reverse osmosis drinking water system installed along with your water softener. Reverse osmosis removes 95%+ of all contaminants in the water, including sodium.


    There are ways to combat the sodium in soft water, which will allow households to enjoy better-tasting water, as well as have the best available water for cleaning needs.

    Why should is softened water better then?

    Advantages of home water softening: The added sodium is a small price to pay for the headaches water softeners save you from.

    • Limescale buildup: Prevents build-up of minerals (scale) on the inside of pipes, fixtures, and hot water heaters.
    • Saves money: Lengthens the life of some appliances and reduces your utility bills
    • Prevents Water spots Reduces or prevents mineral spots on glassware.
    • Reduces Soapy Residue: Reduces soap films and detergent residue in sinks, faucet, bathtubs, and washing machine


    Sodium is a naturally occurring mineral and is found in almost everything you consume—from apples and almonds to water and milk. And while sodium is used to soften water, that does not mean that it will increase your blood pressure.

    When in doubt, contact your local doctor. Learn more at Aquatell about how a water softener can help benefit you today.