Discover the Truth: Does Soft Water Taste Different?

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Wondering whether your water will taste different after installing a water softener in your home? Here, we’ve shared our insights into soft water and what you should expect regarding taste.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Soft water tastes different from normal tap water if you live in a hard water area and you’re used to drinking water containing calcium and magnesium minerals.
  • Soft water has a neutral taste – compared to hard water, it has no distinctive flavor at all.
  • The reasons why soft water tastes different from hard water are that it doesn’t contain minerals and it contains low levels of sodium or potassium.

🤔 Does Soft Water Have A Different Taste To Normal Tap Water?

Yes, soft water has a different taste to normal tap water, since the majority of tap water supplies (more than 80%) in the US are hard.

Soft water lacks calcium and magnesium ions, which means it doesn’t have the same alkaline or slightly metallic taste as hard water.

If you’ve grown up in a hard water region and hard water is all you know, you’ll notice the difference in taste when drinking soft water.

This is especially likely if you install a water softener, since water softeners exchange calcium and magnesium minerals with sodium.

Woman drinking soft water

🚰 What Does Soft Water Taste Like?

Soft water doesn’t really taste like anything – it has a neutral taste that’s lacking in any distinct flavor or after-taste.

That’s what’s convenient about soft water: there’s nothing to dislike about it, so it should be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their tastes and preferences.

The neutral taste of soft water also means it’s more versatile and can be used to better bring out the flavor of teas, coffees, and other beverages.

Plus, using soft water in your plumbing system and appliances means you’re less likely to have chalky pieces of limescale in your water, so your water quality won’t be affected by this.

📋 Reasons Why Soft Water Tastes Different

There are a couple of reasons why soft water tastes different to hard water:

Lack Of Minerals

The main reason why soft water tastes different from a normal tap water supply is the lack of calcium and magnesium minerals.

Hard water is characterized by its mineral content. If you have sensitive taste buds, you’ll notice that the dissolved minerals in hard water give it an alkaline taste. Sometimes, hard water can have a sweet aftertaste, and sometimes it might taste a little metallic, depending on the minerals present.

Soft water, on the other hand, doesn’t contain these minerals, so it has a more neutral flavor.

Healthy minerals removed with soft water

Added Sodium Or Potassium

If you drink softened water from a water softener, the softener will have exchanged the water’s calcium and magnesium ions with potassium or sodium ions.

The addition of these ions, alongside the lack of hardness minerals, may contribute to your softened water taste.

Does softened water taste salty? No – soft water contains only trace levels of sodium ions, and it shouldn’t taste salty. If you’re drinking salty water from a water softener, there’s likely an issue with the sodium levels being added to the water during the softening process.

🔎 Does Soft Water Taste Acidic?

No, soft water doesn’t taste acidic.

Soft water, whether it’s naturally soft or softened water from an ion exchange system, has only a slightly lower pH than hard water. The typical pH of hard water is 7-8, while soft water has a pH of 6-7.

So, soft water is still around the neutral range on the pH scale, so it shouldn’t have a bitter or acidic taste. It’s a long way off from being comparable to vinegar or lemon juice!

Taking ph of soft water with handheld ph meter

🧐 Does Soft Water Taste Bad?

No, soft water doesn’t taste bad – the reason being that it doesn’t really taste of anything.

Softened water is palatable simply because there’s nothing to dislike about the water.

However, this does of course depend on what else is in your water supply. For instance, your drinking water may have a chemical taste if it has been disinfected with chlorine. But this would be the case whether you had soft or hard water.

Before you start blaming your water’s lack of minerals for its poor taste, consider the other potential causes of the unpleasant flavor.

Some of the common culprits of poor-tasting water are:

  • Chlorine, chloramine, and other disinfection chemicals – give water a chemical taste
  • Iron and copper – give water a metallic taste
  • Sulfur – gives water a rotten-egg taste and odor

Test your water with an at-home test kit if you detect any of these tastes in your softened water.

📖 What To Do If You Don’t Like The Taste Of Soft Water

You know by now that softened water doesn’t have any distinctive tastes or flavors, so there’s nothing really to dislike about it.

But if you prefer the taste of mineral-rich hard water but you don’t want to deal with the effects of calcium and magnesium deposits in your home, what can you do?

The solution for you is to install a salt-free water softener, also known as a water conditioner.

Salt-free conditioners are different from water softeners and don’t provide the traditional softening process.

Rather than physically removing calcium and magnesium and exchanging them with sodium during the ion exchange process, water conditioners retain these hardness minerals but prevent them from forming scale. This process is known as template-assisted crystallization or nucleation-assisted crystallization.

With a water conditioner, you can enjoy the same enjoyable mineral taste in your water, but, in their new crystallized form, these minerals will be unable to stick to surfaces and form scale. That means you can enjoy many of the benefits of a conventional water softening system, without the altered water properties or taste.

Salt-free water conditioner installed in home

📑 Final Word

In short, softened water does taste different from hard water, but not unpleasantly so. Softened water tastes neutral and shouldn’t upset your taste buds.

If your softened water tastes salty, there’s likely an issue with your water softener regeneration cycle.

If you have really sensitive taste buds and you can detect a hint of sodium in your softened water, consider switching to potassium chloride in your water softener brine tank.

Or, if you enjoy the mineral taste of hard water, consider installing a salt-free water conditioner instead of a conventional softener.

  • 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.

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