Can Water Softener Make You Sick?

Water softeners make hard water soft by removing the hardness causing minerals including magnesium and calcium ions. These are replaced by sodium ions and effectively make the water soft.

Ideally, water softeners make your water safe and protect you from a number of complications like dry skin, discolored laundry, stain marks on sinks. In fact, it can also improve the life of your appliances and plumbing which would otherwise be damaged without using a water softener.

However, just like everything else, water softener has certain cons as well. Since water is directly consumed either for drinking or cooking purposes it can directly affect your health. This leads many people towards the concern, “Can water softener make you sick”? Let us dig in and find out.

Can Water Softeners Make You Sick?

Can Water Softener Make You Sick?

In short, yes, it can make some people sick. To answer this in detail, let’s look at the primary working principle of water softeners. Water softeners work by replacing calcium and magnesium with sodium ions. This greatly increases the concentration of sodium in your water.

The amount of sodium in softened water is within the recommended levels of sodium intake. However, it will make you sick if you are on a sodium restricted diet. Such diets are usually followed by:

  • People with high blood pressure issues
  • Pregnant and nursing women
  • People with chronic kidney diseases

Raised levels of sodium can have determinantal effects on people following restricted sodium diets leading towards the following issues:

  • For starters, it can affect your blood pressure levels, and also raises the risks of strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues – thus directly affecting your kidneys and heart.
  • In case of pregnant and nursing women, drinking softened water may result in miscarriages. This is because drinking softened water will easily exceed the limit of 1500 mg of sodium per day for pregnant women.
  • Newborn babies cannot withstand high amounts of sodium. Their bodies are too underdeveloped to process such high amounts and as a result, they can suffer from dehydration, kidney stones, and even hormones imbalance.

Based on this, it can be deduced that water softeners with increased sodium output will make you sick in the long run if you are on a sodium restricted diet.

On the other hand, since water softeners only deal with hardness of the water, it cannot remove certain contaminants.

These include:

  • Disease causing bacteria.
  • Chlorine
  • Iron
  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Pesticides
  • PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid)
  • PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances)
  • Nitrates
  • Manganese

Unfortunately, these contaminants cannot be removed using water softeners. As a result of these contaminants in water, you will be exposed to a number of health complications including:

  • Bacteria will likely cause different diseases specifically in people with a weak immune system.
  • Chlorine causes skin irritation, burning of eyes, stomach complications, and diarrhea. In the long run it will also expose you to asthma and even cancer.
  • PFOA affects certain proteins in your kidneys that are responsible for the absorption of calcium in your body.
  • Consuming PFAS in high amounts comes with an increased risk of liver complications and cancer.
  • Similarly, manganese consumption in high amounts can cause rashes, hair fall, and skin itchiness.

The effects of these contaminants will affect your overall wellbeing and expose you to a number of diseases either non-serious or serious depending on your consumption. However, all of these can be avoided by taking certain measures.

Here’s an insight into some potential solutions that you can implement.

Potential Solutions:

There are different approaches to fighting off contaminants from your water. Depending on their availability and your requirements, you can incorporate either of the following:

1.    Reverse Osmosis Filters:

Reverse osmosis (RO) systems are highly efficient. In fact, these systems are so efficient that they even remove the essential minerals from your water.

Reverse osmosis systems can remove total dissolved solids, bacteria, chemicals (metal ions and aqueous salts, sodium, copper, chloride, lead, fluoride, nitrates, and so much more.

RO systems feature a semi permeable membrane which filters out the contaminants followed by a remineralization filter that introduces essential minerals back into the output water.

However, you should know that not all RO systems feature a remineralization filter. Unless your RO system has this post filter, you will be left with water that contains no essential minerals required by your body. So, make sure to consider this when purchasing a reverse osmosis filter.

2.    Ultraviolet (UV) Light Treatment Systems:

UV light treatment systems directly target the bacteria present in your source water. This helps break down the DNA of these bacteria by turning them into individual parts which makes them unable to harm you in any way whatsoever.

In fact, when struck by UV light, these bacteria will not be able to replicate – thus eliminating them entirely. This helps protect you from harmful disease causing bacteria that could otherwise lead to serious consequences.

3.    Water Distillation Units:

Water distillation units follow a process of heating and boiling while steam is formed. Next, this steam is collected in a condensation chamber and left to cool out. This condensed liquid is completely free from contaminants that can affect your health.

On a side note, you can use these systems side by side with a water softener. A water softener will address the hardness issue of your water, whereas RO, UV Treatment, and Water Distillation systems will help deal with the contaminants present in your water.

This way, you will not only be drinking safe water, but you will also have peace of mind when it comes to the life of your appliances and fixture that would otherwise be affected due to hard water.

Furthermore, it is also crucial to get your water tested. All you have to do is get a sample of your water and get it tested from a reputable laboratory.

The test results will provide you with an insight into the composition of your water for further assessment. This will allow you to opt for a water filtration system that best suits your needs while effectively dealing with the associated health problems.

Conclusion | Can Water Softener Make You Sick?

Since water softeners only deal with hardness causing minerals in the water, they fail to remove the harmful contaminants. Since these contaminants are not removed, it will lead to potential diseases and may affect your overall wellbeing.

On the other hand, during the water softening process, sodium ions are added as a replacement of calcium and magnesium ions. This increases the concentration of sodium in your water which can be bad for people that are following a sodium restricted diet.


This is my blog about the ways and solutions that can help you improve your health by taking more value from drinking water. As improving health means a lot to me, I decided to create the Water On Top project with the purpose to reveal the benefits of water, the finest products to take our daily water to another level, and much more great stuff about water that I believe is on top of our nutrition.

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