Can Water Be Too Soft? (Get the Hard Facts)

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If you’ve been reading up on the damaging effects of hard water, you might be keen to soften your water sooner rather than later.

But is there such a thing as water that’s too soft? What might happen if your water is completely free from hardness minerals?

We’ve answered these questions below.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Water can’t technically be too soft. Even very soft water that’s completely lacking in minerals is safe to drink.
  • You might think that your water is excessively soft if you don’t like the taste of soft water, you’re concerned about the lack of minerals, or your water feels very slippery. Incorrect settings on your softener may also cause your water to be over-softened.
  • You can resolve an issue with too-soft water by addressing the cause of the problem.

🚿 Can Water Be Too Soft?

Technically, no, water can’t be too soft. Even water that’s completely lacking in hardness minerals isn’t classed as “too soft” because it’s safe to drink regardless of its hardness content.

However, there are a few issues with treated soft water that you may encounter as a result of this lack of minerals.

This may, in your opinion, mean that your water is “too soft” because you wouldn’t experience these issues if your water was a little harder.

Soft water from tap

📋 Possible Effects Of Water That’s Too Soft

Following on from the above, here are some of the possible effects of water that’s too soft.

Poor Taste

You might think that soft water is “too soft” if you enjoy the taste of mineral water and you don’t like the taste of water from a softener. There’s a taste difference between hard and soft water because soft water is lacking in calcium and magnesium.

Corrosion

Corrosion of pipes and appliances is another possible outcome of water that’s too soft. This may deteriorate your plumbing over time, leading to leaks and expensive repairs. However keep in mind this does not happen with ion exchange softened water, but rather naturally soft water.

Lack Of Essential Minerals

If you don’t get enough trace minerals in your diet, you may consider soft water to be “too soft” because it further reduces your daily mineral intake.

Very Slippery Water

It’s normal for soft water to take on a slightly slippery feel after installing a water softener. However, if you find that your skin feels slippery after showering, you struggle to wash dishes without them slipping out of your hands, or the slipperiness seems excessive, you might be concerned about having water that’s too soft.

Soft water feels slimy

🤔 Can A Water Softener Over-Soften Water?

Yes, it’s possible for a water softener installed in your home to over-soften water. To understand how this might happen, let’s look at how a water softener performs in normal working conditions.

The role of a water softener is to exchange calcium and magnesium ions with sodium chloride (salt) or potassium chloride ions during the ion exchange process. With the right hardness settings, a water softener will release only enough sodium into the water to exchange the calcium and magnesium minerals present.

However, if your water softener settings are too high (i.e. you program the softener to remove more hard minerals than are actually present in the water), the system will add excessive sodium into the water, causing it to be over-softened, or “too soft”.

🔎 What Happens If A Water Softened Over-Softens My Water?

When water softeners over-soften water, you may end up with too much salt in your water supply. This may have the following effects:

  • Salty taste. You should usually be unable to taste salt in your softened water. If you do taste salt, your softener’s hardness setting might be too high.
  • Slippery feel in water. It’s normal for soft water to feel slightly slippery or slimy due to the added salt. But if your water feels unusually slippery, it may be over-softened.
  • Plumbing damage. High levels of sodium in your water may lead to faster corrosion of your pipes and appliances.

You can avoid these effects of over-softening your water by adjusting your water softener’s hardness setting. If you think the system is malfunctioning, check your user manual for water softener troubleshooting guidance.

Woman drinking soft water from glass

📖 How To Deal With Water That’s Too Soft

The best way to resolve water that’s too soft is to get to the bottom of what’s causing the problem, then work on resolving that issue.

So, for example, your water might simply feel too soft and slippery because you’re using too much soap. Remember, hard water requires excess soap because it doesn’t lather well and leads to the formation of soap scum.

Water softeners help you to reduce your soap usage because soft water doesn’t cause these issues. You might continue to use the same amount of soap after installing a water softener – which is too much soap now that your water is softened, giving it a very slippery feel. Use less soap, and the slipperiness of your water should be reduced.

Or, your water might be too soft because you haven’t set your hardness setting correctly. Water softeners need precise programming to enable them to only add the required amount of sodium ions to your water based on the concentration of hard minerals.

If your softener has incorrect settings, the simple solution is to adjust the settings so that they’re correct for optimal softening, without excessive sodium.

📑 Final Word

In summary, there’s no actual definition of water that’s too soft.

However, you may personally think that your soft water is too soft if you’re concerned about its effects in your home, you don’t like the taste, or you’re worried that removing minerals from your water may affect your daily mineral intake.

Or, water might be classed as “too soft” if your water softener’s hardness settings are wrong, causing the softener to add excessive sodium to your water supply.

Make sure to program the softener settings correctly. Don’t just stick to the water softener default setting, which might be too high for your water hardness. If in doubt, check your user manual for instructions on programming.

❔ FAQs

What happens if you make your water too soft?

If you make your water too soft, your water will contain too much softening salt. This may affect your water quality, give water a salty taste, and make the water feel unusually slippery or slimy.

How do you tell if water is too soft?

You’ll be able to tell if water from a softening system is too soft by tasting it. Water with excess sodium ions will taste salty. You can also check your softener’s water hardness settings – if the settings are too high, this is another indicator that your water is too soft.

Can water be too soft to drink?

No, water can’t be too soft to drink if it’s naturally soft or if it has been properly softened by a water softener. However, if your water softener’s hardness setting is wrong and it’s adding double, triple, or quadruple the amount of sodium required to your water, the water may be too salty to drink. You’ll know if this is the case because the water will have a distinctly salty taste.

Are there health risks to drinking soft water?

No, there are no health risks of drinking soft water as long as you get plenty of calcium and magnesium in your daily diet. Removing these minerals from your water shouldn’t make a huge difference to your dietary intake of magnesium and calcium because most of these minerals come from foods like dairy products, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and avocados.

Can you fix soft water?

There’s no “water hardening” system that you can buy to fix soft water in your home, since most people are looking to do the opposite – soften hard water. However, you can buy mineralizing filters and mineral drops to boost the mineral content of soft water if you’re concerned about drinking water with a lack of healthy minerals.

  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

2 thoughts on “Can Water Be Too Soft? (Get the Hard Facts)”

  1. Avatar for Brian Campbell

    “What Happens If A Water Softened [sic] Over-Softens My Water?”

    Your article, focusing exclusively on the aspects of drinking softened water, falls short. What about the considerations of _bathing_ with over-softened water? Particularly concerning the possible consequences of residual detergent based soap left on the skin that over-softened water _leaves behind_ and will not rinse away?!?!

    Right along side of that issue would be skin exposure to residual detergent based soap left on ones clothes after going through the washer, which would obviously make direct contact to body. FYI, few would dispute the risk of dealing with skin rashes, or worse as a direct result of exposing the skin to petroleum based products!

    1. Avatar for Brian Campbell

      Thanks for your feedback, John. I’ve noted your suggestions for when an update to this article is published

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