What is Soft Water and Why You Should NEVER Drink it!

Last Updated on December 7, 2020

Did you know that soft water is neither healthy nor desirable to drink?

It’s perfect for you if you happen to be a washing machine or steam iron but not ideal if you are a human being.

This article will quickly cover all the reasons why you should not drink it and offer you better alternatives.

Soft Water Definition

Soft water is water that contains low amounts of ions like calcium and magnesium. While soft water examples include rainfall when it is clean and has not come into contact with the earth.

Water Hardness (& Why You Need Soft Water)

Effects of Hard WaterMagnesium and calcium are 2 minerals that make water “hard.”

But they are not necessarily “contaminants.” For starters, calcium is essential in your diet because it helps maintain your bones and teeth.

However, when these minerals are excessively present in your water it wreaks havoc on your appliances and can even have a negative impact on your hair and skin.

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How does a water softener ‘cure’ hard water?

In simple terms, a water softeners’ job is to exchange one group of non-toxic elements for a different set of non-toxic elements.

Water hardness is usually measured as calcium hardness in milligrams per liter (mg/l) OR parts per million (ppm) OR in grains per gallon (GPG).Effects of Hard WaterGPG is the most common water hardness measurement type and it is essentially a way to calculate the amount of calcium hardness.

  • If your water is slightly hard or soft then it will have up to 3.5 GPG.
  • Medium hard water is between 3.5 to 10.5 GPG.
  • Extremely hard water is anything over 10.5 GPG.

However, if you test your water at home and your water is over 5-6 GPG, you probably should consider getting a water softener. Even if it’s just for the laundry and other household appliances like the dishwasher.

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Green Plus ArrowAdvantages Of Soft Water

  • Your appliances will last longer as they won’t suffer from hard water “limescale” damage.
  • Brighter and softer clothes.
  • Less dryness in hair and skin.
  • This type of water restores rich lathering of soap and shampoo. This means you use less and save money in the long run.

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Red CrossDisadvantages Of Soft Water

  • Treating softwater to remove chlorine can encourage black rings to form in your toilet bowl.
  • It aggressively leaches metals (like lead) from your faucets and pipes. Especially any tap faucet that is solid brass (with a medium to high lead content) and are also chrome plated.
  • This means that any initial drawing of cold water can have a higher lead content than normal (if the water is soft).
  • It is very important that you do not use warm or hot water from the tap for things like beverages, cooking, baby formula. This is because it could be higher in heavy metals like lead.

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Drinking Soft Water FAQ

Q: Drinking Softened Water Side Effects?


  • Toxic metals: softened water is more likely to contain toxic metals like lead, especially in households with old pipes. Pelican Standard Softener
  • It contains too much sodium: The sodium content of softened drinking water is more than normal and this is not good for you.
  • De-mineralized water: A salt-based water softener removes all the minerals from water during the ion exchange process.
  • Poor taste: The good news is that you’re unlikely to ever drink it because water that is soft tastes bad!

Q: How Much Salt Is In Softened Water?


It depends on how hard your water is because the sodium content will increase in areas of very hard water. Whatever the case, it is too much to be considered healthy for human consumption.

Q: Filtering Soft Water Drinking?


Yes, absolutely! Since you shouldn’t drink water that is soft, you should definitely filter it out. Use a filter that is able to remove sodium, heavy metals and add healthy minerals back to your water.

I would recommend you use a powerful water filter pitcher like the clean machine, which is able to do this very well, very easy to set up and use.

Q: Is It Safe To Drink Softened Water When Pregnant?


Absolutely not, it is not safe for a regular healthy person let alone someone who is pregnant.

Q: Is Soft Water Safe For Pets To Drink?


Soft water is not safe for human or animal consumption.OptimH2O Reverse Osmosis

Q: Is Softened Water Bad For Plants?


You should avoid using soft water for plants because of its high sodium content and its lack of minerals.

Q: How To Make Soft Water?


    • Boil water.
    • Use a water softener.
    • Leave a slice of lime in water for a few days and draw water from the top.

Q: Soft Water & Hair?


Generally speaking, softened water is better for you hair than hard water. This is it doesn’t contain any hard minerals like calcium which can cause dry hair.Aquasana AQ-4105 Shower Head Filter

Q: Is Tap Water Hard Or Soft


Unless you have a working water softener in your home, your tap water is likely to be hard. Use a water hardness test kit if you really want to be sure.

Q: Drinking Soft Water vs. Hard Water


Soft water is likely to contain lots of sodium, heavy metals (like lead) and almost no minerals. Hard water is likely to contain large amounts of minerals like calcium and magnesium.

Although drinking neither of them is immediately life threatening, they are not good for the body. Especially drinking them long term. This is why you should seek to filter them both before drinking.AQ-4100 Deluxe Shower Water Filter

Q: Can You Filter Softened Water For Drinking?


Yes, use a strong filter that can remove sodium and heavy metals. I recommend the Clean Machine because this also adds back minerals that have been removed from soft water. (Read: 7 Reasons Why The Berkey Water Filter is WEIRD But EFFECTIVE)

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Why You Should NEVER Drink Soft Water

Mr Water Geek ThinkingMany people do not know this but a water softener is not designed (or effective) at removing things like lead (and other metals), odor / taste compounds, chlorine byproducts, or chlorine itself – from your water.

Bottom line: soft water is the perfect choice for things like bathing, washing your hair, steam irons, auto batteries, laundry, your dishwasher but definitely not for drinking.mrwatergeek winner badge

Scientific References

Durlach, J.; Bara, M.; Guiet-Bara, A. (1989). “Magnesium level in drinking water: its importance in cardiovascular risk”. In Itokawa, Y.; Durlach, J. Magnesium in health and disease: Fifth International

Aquasana Clean MachineMetropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County – http://www.nashville.gov/water/soft_h2o.htm

Bartram, edited by Jamie; Ballance, Richard (1996). Water quality monitoring : a practical guide to the design and implementation of freshwater quality studies and monitoring programmes (1st ed.). London: E & FN Spon.

Common Water Quality Problems And Their Treatment” (PDF). Retrieved 2017-03-19.Check Prices & Read Customer Reviews“Water Softeners”. Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Retrieved 2017-03-19.

Aquasana Powered Water Filtration System with Extra Filter with David Venable

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Aquasana Filter Jug


  1. Great site Mr. Water Geek. Two questions:

    – I recently moved into a house with a well and water softener. There are several exterior water faucets connected to the house. How can I test the water from those faucets to determine whether the water is coming from the softener or directly from the well?

    – Are salt-free water softeners better that those that use salt, or are there associated drawbacks with them?

    Thanks much.

    1. Hi Brice

      Question 1: The best way to know for sure is to use a hard water test kit. Laboratory tests are more accurate than the cheaper test strips.

      Question 2: Salt free softeners are not necessarily better but they are good for people that don’t want the extra hassle of buying and dealing with salt. The biggest drawback is that they typically can’t deal with medium to very hard water. However, I recently learned that Pelican’s salt free softeners can cope with up to 75 GPG (which is extremely hard water).

      Stay hydrated,

  2. To ensure you have “tap” water or “filtered” for drinking… Be sure you have separate water lines that route to specific faucets (cold side) usually in the kitchen.
    Soft water, when consumed is small quantities WILL NOT HARM a healthy human.
    There are some health concerns… Specifically, anyone with kidney disease, or on dialysis should avoid water.
    Also, soft water will kill plants over time, potted plants even quicker (salting the earth comes to mind)
    This article has valuable information, but it is missing much about how to route water, and materials for routing (by the way, ALL new brass has even less or no lead content)
    I agree that drinking soft water exclusively over time is not good for you… but small amounts, even daily, pose zero health risks to people in good health. Certainly less risk than consuming bleached water (enjoying that chlorine?)

  3. My family put a filter to soften the water i don’t 0 like the taste i always drank bottle water until 2 month ago i started to drink the filter water..Well one morning i woke up my leg and feet was retaining water i didn’t understand why so I bought some pills for retaing water and bought. Magnesium vitamin B-6. Taking anything for that water to go away..so i kept on drinking the filter water at least 3 to 4 big glasses with my pills..well i went to this doctor and he said im really retaing water something im drinking or eating..So i thought real hard then it hit me it was the filter that was doing harm that’s why i was retaing water it was clogging up my vains so my blood can’t pass it was blocking my blood stream…salt minerals filter was doing harm so i went back drinking water bottles my leg and swollen is gone my leg and foot is back to normal I just wanted to report this to anybody they might have the same. Health problems…thanks

  4. Hello!
    Hope you’re good.
    I have a Fleck 5600sxt water softener at home because I need soft water for bathing. This water softener is working good but the taste of the water is not getting pleasant. So how I can improve the taste of the soft water?

  5. Hello,

    I just bought an Aguagear water filter pitcher, having used bottled water for many years. But just realized the kitchen cold water tap may be hooked up to the water softener. Which means no calcium/magnesium, and added sodium. How much of a health problem would it be for my kids to drink the soft water through a filter that does not remineralize nor remove sodium? Thanks.

    1. Hi William

      Missing out on healthy minerals (like calcium/magnesium) and consuming extra sodium in your water is not ideal. However, I don’t know how significant the health effect is and you may need to speak to a medical expert or nutritionist to understand this better.

      If you’re worried about this you can get a different pitcher that effectively treats sodium and remineralises. The best filter option to look into is reverse osmosis OR if you prefer using a pitcher, there are a few good options on my AquaTru article.

      Stay hydrated,

  6. We just had Rainsoft quote use a whole house system, $7,500. Their system is a salt based system. We are on City Water with mid range hardness numbers, ph etc. Detroit Water.

    My concern reading this article is the drinking aspect. My kids will drink from the fridge and faucets (young). Also, I have a sodium restricted diet.

    Would we be better off with a salt less water softener? How do we handle drinking water on a whole home level?

    Can a salt based system filter out the sodium.

    Sorry for the questions, but thank you in advance.

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Bryan

      Yes, unfiltered soft water has a higher sodium / salt content than regular water.

      Water softeners on their own will NOT filter your water and can add extra salt into your diet.

      If this is a concern you should consider getting a water filter machine for drinking water like Aquasana Clean Machine OR for a more permanent and convenient solution then you should consider getting a whole house water softener / filter combination that will produce salt-free, fresh drinkable water for you and your family.

      Stay hydrated,

    1. Hi Debbie

      So long as the water is clean and properly filtered it should not do any harm.

      However, if you want “healthful” mineral-rich water then consider getting a re-mineralizing filter for your kitchen (or any faucet that you get drinking water from).

      For instance, the OPTIMH2O Reverse Osmosis comes with alkaline and remineralization filters.

      Stay hydrated,

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