With more than 30 years’ experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Mark Nelson is a Class 1 Drinking-Water Operator and a CBWA (Canadian Bottled Water Association) Certified Plant Operator. As founder and president of Nelson Water in Ottawa, Mark focuses on dealing with challenging water treatment system designs for problem water. He also heads the largest water bottling plant in the city of Ottawa with a delivery network throughout the Valley.

This is a tricky question to answer because many of us are used to drinking hard water, which can vary a great deal in taste and consistency. Many people find soft water to be less tasty than hard water because it lacks some of the mineral content that they are used to. Over time their taste buds adjust to the taste, and many people grow to like it. Some people may even add a little pink salt to their water because it adds some beneficial minerals, and it helps them to hydrate better. The most telling taste is when people make their favorite beverages with soft water. Many people are pleasantly surprised at how much better their favorite tea or coffee blends taste when they use soft hot water to make them. In this article, we will take a closer look at the differences between soft and hard water tastes.

The Salt Question Answered

One of the main issues highlighted by people that are opposed to ion exchange water softeners is the additions of salt to the water supply. There are different methods to soften water, but they are not particularly effective. The only method that works reliably is an ion exchange process where the sodium or potassium ions are exchanged with ions that cause the water to be hard (calcium and magnesium).

So, the minerals are taken away. They stick to resin beads, and they are flushed away into the drain during the water softener regeneration cycle. But, it is true that sodium or potassium ions are added, and many people think that this is harmful. This is a natural reaction. We have heard about the health risks of salt for many years now, and many people are on a low salt diet. It is important to put this into some perspective. There is more salt in a single slice of ham than you would find in an entire gallon of softened water!

There are people that are on an extremely restricted intake of sale as directed by their physician. These people are very sensitive to salt, and they might be affected by the addition of some sodium ions during the ion exchange process. But, there is a solution. If you noticed earlier, we noted that a water softener can use sodium or potassium. Both of these are salts, but potassium is far more benign than sodium and safer to use for those sensitive to salt. It is true that potassium based water softening salts are slightly more expensive than sodium, but they are widely available.

The Taste of Soft Water

As we have seen, a water softener removes the calcium and magnesium from the water to remove the hardness. If you have very sensitive taste buds, you may notice a slight salty taste, but most people don’t see a difference. Softened water doesn’t have calcium and magnesium, but it still contains the other beneficial nutrients.

Over time many people grow to like the taste and feel of soft water. This may seem strange, but soft water has a kind of slippery or silky texture, which may seem a little odd at first. But, the experience is quite pleasant. The water feels smoother as you drink it and less harsh in your mouth.

One of the major issues with hard water is that it can have a chemical or chalky taste. Many of us are so used to drinking hard water that we don’t notice this. But, if you make the switch over to soft water and try hard water again, you will notice the difference. This hard water taste is caused by the presence of the dissolved mineral content that causes limescale. Softened water doesn’t contain these dissolved minerals, and as a result, it has a cleaner and more neutral taste.

If you’re used to drinking hard water, you may have noticed tiny pieces of scale in your glass. This is the same material that you find on the heating element in your electric kettle or your taps. This is the limescale caused by the calcium and magnesium in hard water. This can chip off from time to time, and it may end up in your glass of water or your favorite hot beverage. Nobody likes drinking these hard chips or scale, and we often spit them out or try to fish them out of our drinks. When you use soft water, this is no longer a problem.

We’ve already mentioned the neutral flavor of softened water, which may seem like a disadvantage. But, this is a definite plus for most people because a neutral taste means that more people can enjoy it. The lack of a chemical taste in the water means that the true taste of squashes, coffee, or tea can shine through. If you want more taste with your water, you can always add a little pink salt or fruit juice to make an isotonic drink. Most of us would rather add the flavors that we want rather than put up with a generic flavor that we don’t want to taste.

Calcium and Magnesium are Nutrients

Many people believe that hard water is a healthier option because it contains calcium, magnesium, and in certain cases, iron. It is true that these are all naturally occurring minerals that are beneficial to human health. But, it’s important to understand that the calcium and mineral deposits that we find in our hard water are actually inorganic minerals. This simply does not offer the same health benefits as the same minerals found in our food and various supplements. These minerals in hard water are not absorbed by the cells in our body easily, and they have little to no value from a health perspective. Plant life can transform an inorganic mineral into the organic state that our bodies needs, and that’s why it’s important to eat vegetables. If you’re relying on drinking hard water to get your calcium, magnesium, and iron, you’re likely to be deficient in these vital minerals.

If you want to install a water softener in your home, contact a local water treatment specialist today.