The average pH of tap water and bottled water is about 7.5. But if your water is naturally soft, how does this affect its pH level? And what about the pH of salt-softened water?
We’ve shared everything you should know about the pH of soft water in this short guide.
📌 Key Takeaways:
- Soft water has an average pH of 6-7.
- Hard water has an average pH of 7-8.
- Installing a water softener might reduce your water’s pH by 1-2.
Table of Contents
🤔 What Is pH And Why Is It Important?
Let’s start with a quick overview of pH and why it matters.
pH (potential hydrogen) is a measure of water’s acidity or alkalinity. The pH of any water supply can be determined using a pH meter and compared to the pH scale (from 0 to 14) to get an understanding of how acidic or alkaline it is.
Acidic water has a pH of less than 7, while neutral water is 7 on the dot, and alkaline water has a pH of more than 7.
Whether it’s hard or soft, drinking water sits naturally around the 7 range, and there are no health problems associated with drinking water with a slightly lower or higher pH.
For this reason, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t monitor pH and doesn’t require water utilities to follow strict regulations for this water parameter. It simply recommends that the pH of public water supplies is between 6.5 and 9.
pH is an aesthetic water quality, which means it doesn’t have health effects, but particularly acidic water could corrode plumbing systems, fixtures, and water heaters.
🔎 What Is The pH Of Soft Water?
The pH of naturally soft water and salt-softened water is typically 6-7, meaning it’s either neutral or slightly acidic.
Why does soft water have a slightly lower pH than normal tap water? The reason is largely due to the water’s lack of minerals.
Soft water, whether naturally softened or softened in a water treatment system, has a low concentration of calcium and magnesium, or no hardness minerals whatsoever.
These minerals contribute to tap water’s alkaline properties, so without them, a water source is likely to have a slightly lower reading on the pH scale.
However, there’s certainly no danger in drinking water with a pH reading of 6-7. Just because it’s low in hard minerals, soft water likely contains other dissolved solids that contribute to pH, so it should never be extremely acidic and shouldn’t have a bitter taste.
📏 How To Measure Soft Water pH
So, how can you find out the pH of soft drinking water at home?
We recommend a couple of options:
- A pH meter – This is a small device that you can use to get a fast, accurate pH water reading. Simply fill a glass of soft water and submerge the end of the probe into the water. Follow the instructions to take a reading.
- Litmus paper – This is a more affordable alternative to a pH meter that gives you a less precise indication of water pH. Dip the strip in a glass of water and wait a few seconds. The strip will turn red if the water is acidic, and blue if the water is alkaline.
If you just want to know the pH of your untreated municipal water supply, check your most recent Water Quality Report, which should list pH under “water quality indicators” or “unregulated contaminants”.
Related Content: Easy Ways to Test Water pH Level Without Using Strips
🆚 Hard Water Vs Soft Water pH
We know that soft water has a pH of around 6-7, but what about hard water?
pH levels depend on the exact water hardness, but on average, hard water has a slightly above-neutral pH of 7-8.
So, soft water and hard water only have a pH difference of 1-2 – not enough of a difference for you to notice a change in the water’s acidity or quality.
Why does hard water have a higher pH than soft water? Hard water contains a higher concentration of calcium carbonate, as well as other metallic minerals that make water more alkaline, such as iron, magnesium, and copper.
Soft water, on the other hand, naturally contains lower concentrations of these minerals, or it might have been treated in a water softener to remove these minerals. That means its pH levels are slightly lower because it’s missing the minerals that contribute to alkalinity.
🚿 Will A Water Softener Change Your Water’s pH?
So, if you want to treat your home’s drinking water with a water softener, can you safely do so without having a significant effect on your water’s pH?
The answer is yes – removing the hard water minerals from your water supply will only reduce your pH by around 1, or 2 at max, depending on the original pH of your water and its hardness reading.
We’re used to ingesting solutions with a much lower pH than 6-7. Think of the lemon juice you add to Asian recipes and the vinegar you use for cooking and salad dressings. These have a very low pH level – and despite their sour taste, they don’t have any health effects for the average American.
Water softeners won’t cause your water to drop to a concerningly low level on the pH scale. Your water’s pH level should still sit within the EPA’s recommended pH range – and the added bonus is that you’ll enjoy a whole host of soft water benefits, including reduced mineral buildup and no more soap scum.
📑 Final Word
So, soft water has a pH that’s only slightly lower than neutral, and installing a water softener won’t upset your water’s pH balance.
That means you can enjoy the benefits of water softeners without the worry of drinking acidic water.
👨🔧 If you have any reason to be concerned about the pH balance of your drinking water, contact your local authority (if you get city water) or look into methods of increasing water pH with a water treatment system, such as acid-neutralizing soda ash filtration systems (if you use a private well).