One of the biggest myths associated with water softeners is that it makes your water taste salty, but that is not exactly true. It will, however, add more sodium to the water and depending on how hard your water is to start with, the sodium count could be much higher than in some areas of the globe.
A properly installed and functional water softener will not make your water taste salty. If you are experiencing a salty taste in your water, it could often mean that the injector on your water softener is clogged, or there is some restriction or kink within the brine line or the drain line flow control.
Although those are just a few of the most common reasons why you might have salty tasting water, they are not the only reasons. I want to share with you what I have learned about water softeners and what might be causing that yucky salty water taste that you have.
What Causes a Water Softener to Make Water Taste Salty?
Here are some reasons why you might be tasting salt in your softened water.
#1. Clogged Injector
Check to see if the injector is clogged. There are vertical and horizontal holes within the injector that could get clogged by dirt or other debris.
You have to be extra careful when digging out the holes that you do not make them any bigger. If the injector is clogged, experts recommend that you replace it, rather then trying to clean it.
#2. Drain Line Flow Control Button Clogged
Again this is one of the more common problems to look for. Inside of the elbow is a little drain control button that can get clogged. If this is clogged, you’ll need to carefully clean it out. Sometimes it might be easier to replace this part, especially if you notice any damage around it.
#3. Drain Line is Clogged, Kinked or Too Long
Take a close look and make sure that you don’t have a kinked or clogged drain line.
First, check by following the drain line as it exits the softener and looks for any kinks in the line. Make sure there is nothing clogged inside of the line that could be preventing water from draining smoothly.
Last, double check that the drain line itself is not too long. A drain line should not be any longer than 8 feet vertically, and 20 feet horizontally from the tank to the drain. If it is, it might be having a hard time draining the water to the drain.
#4. Timer Set Incorrectly or Brine Cycle Interrupted
Generally, your water softener should be set to begin its regeneration cycle around 2:00 AM or 3:00 AM when nobody will be using water. Sometimes when there is a power outage or perhaps a child has been playing with the buttons, the timer gets changed and set to go off during a time when water gets used in the home.
If you do wake up during the night to use the bathroom, and flush the toilet, while the water softener is between the regeneration cycle, this will cause salty water to leave the softener and fill your pipes. That salty water will be sitting there until you turn on a faucet, and this could be why you are getting a salty taste when you drink it.
If this does happen to you, the best thing to do is open a faucet and let the salty water drain out.
#5. Brine Tank Full of Water
A full brine take doesn’t happen often, but it has been known to happen sometimes, so it is worth looking for when troubleshooting.
Take a look inside the brine tank and make sure that it is not full of water. If you do have too much water in the brine tank, that could be extra absorbing salt which creates extra sodium that’ll be left behind after the water softener has finished its regeneration.
To empty some of the water you can try using a shop vac, or a turkey baster to suck up that extra water and flush it down your laundry room drain.
#6. The Raw Water Coming Into The Home
If the raw water that is coming into the home has a very high sodium content to start with, once it’s run through the water softener, it is still going to have a high level of sodium content.
That high level of sodium could be what you are tasting.
#7. Bad Spacer Stack, Brine Piston or Downflow Piston
Often, you might have a bad spacer assembly, brine piston or a faulty downflow piston. Anyone of these three faulty parts could allow brine water to leak down into the mineral tank.
To check if this is a problem, turn your system over to the in-service position, and not in regeneration.
Next, remove the drain elbow and brine elbow away from the valve, and then look inside for about 20 to 30 seconds for any sign of water movement. If there is water movement, you probably have a bad spacer stack or piston, and it is recommended that you replace these parts.
If after 30 seconds you haven’t seen any water movement, you can determine this is not causing the salty water taste.
What Does a Water Softener Do To Hard Water?
Before water passes through a water softener, that water is considered to be “hard water.” Hard water contains a high count of minerals which it collects as it travels through deposits of limestone and chalk. The more calcium and magnesium in the water, the harder the water is.
Calcium and magnesium are the two main components that make up hard water. These minerals can cause problems with limescale build up in equipment that handles water, such as pipes, dishwashers, water heaters, and so on. They also give hard water that metallic taste.
When hard water runs through a water softener, the water softener strips away the calcium and magnesium minerals from the water and replaces them with sodium. That is why soft water has a different type of taste. Some people say that soft water tastes and smells a little like chlorine.
Can You Drink Water That Has Been Through a Water Softener?
So, can you drink softened water? That answer is, yes, you can drink water that has been through a water softener. There is no evidence to claim that softened water is bad for you. However, it is not for everyone.
For example, experts recommend that you should not prepare baby formula with softened water because of the extra amounts of sodium found in the softened water. The additional amount of sodium could be harmful in infants who are six weeks and younger.
Also, if your doctor has told you that you must be on a low sodium diet, you too should avoid drinking softened water.
If the extra sodium is a problem for you, you could install a reverse osmosis water filter that will remove a large part of the sodium out of the water.
How Much Sodium is Added to The Water By a Water Softener?
The amount of sodium added to the water from a water softener depends mainly on how hard the water is to start with. The harder the water is, the more sodium that is added.
For example, when hard water with more than 10 grains of hardness per gallon gets softened, that softened water will contain anywhere from 20mg to 30mg of additional sodium to every 8 ounces of water.
To understand how much sodium is already in the hard water before it enters into the water softener, you will have to get your water tested. Once you know how much sodium the hard water contains, you can do some simple math to determine how much additional sodium is being added.
The mathematical formula is:
GPG (Grains per gallon) hardness x 2 =mg of sodium in an 8 oz glass of water.
In other words, if your hard water test came back telling you that you have 16 grains per gallon hardness after that water passes through the water softener, it will now contain 32 milligrams of sodium to each 8 oz glass of water.