Why Does My Water Taste Salty?

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If you get your water from a private well supply, there may be occasions when it doesn’t quite taste normal.

Salty water is a rarer issue, and it isn’t usually a cause for concern. In this short guide, I’ll be looking at reasons why your water tastes salty, and how to resolve the problem.

💡 Reasons Why Water Tastes Salty

If you’re wondering, “why does my water taste salty?” It’s most likely because of one of three things: a high concentration of chloride ions, sulfates, or a water softener issue.

1. High Concentration of Chloride Ions

Elevated chloride in your water is the most common cause of saltiness. Chloride ions can get into water via underground aquifers or surface runoff. If these aren’t filtered out of your water, they can produce an unpleasant saline taste.

Chloride in your local area may be a result of pollution. If you live by the sea, there’s a chance of seawater entering your drinking water supply, increasing its chloride content.

2. High Concentration of Sulfates

Sulfates are another type of contaminant that can result in a salty taste in your water.

These minerals occur naturally in the earth, and are usually derived from sodium sulfate and magnesium sulfate. When groundwater seeps through rocks and soils containing sulfates, they dissolve into the water.

Like chloride, sulfates can also be caused by industrial activity. Shale waste is a particularly common cause of elevated sulfate levels.

3. Water Softener Issue

There are a number of reasons why your water softener might not be performing properly, and this may result in too much salt entering your drinking water.

Water softeners are very effective, but they’re also complex appliances. It doesn’t take much for a softening system to stop working properly, to the detriment of your water quality.

Your softener could simply be programmed incorrectly, causing the system to think that more salt is required than needed. But there may also be clogging issues inside the system, such as the drain line or the tanks, and you might need to clean or replace a part.

Fixing the issue may be as simple as programming the system to perform a regeneration cycle. For clogged water softeners, cleaning out the area of the blockage (such as the inside of your drain line) should do the trick. If you can’t solve the problem yourself, you may need to call a water softener expert.

For a full guide on how to diagnose and treat a water softener that’s adding too much salt to your water, click here.

🧂 How Does Salt Get Into Well Water?

Knowing what causes your water to taste salty is one thing – but the reason behind these issues can be more complex.

Some of the most common causes of salty tasting water include the following:

  • Erosion of salt deposits in your local area’s groundwater
  • Naturally elevated salt levels in your well’s aquifer (the underground layer of rock that your water is drawn from)
  • Coastal flooding or similar activity resulting in seawater contaminating your groundwater
  • Groundwater contamination from liquid waste or sewage
  • Surface runoff from road salt
  • High levels of snow or rain that seeps through soil with a high sodium content
  • Industrial and agricultural contamination

You might be unable to determine the exact reason for a salty water taste, even with this list to hand. Your water could also be affected by something that isn’t on this list.

Even if you know how salt has got into your drinking water, there’s probably not a lot you can do about it. Raising your concerns to your local water supplier will do nothing if your tap water comes from a private well.

In many cases, you won’t be able to eliminate the problem itself, but you will be able to solve it before salty-tasting water gets into your home.

natural erosion of salt deposits

✔️ How Can I Fix My Water Tasting Salty?

Now that you know the answer to “why does my water taste salty?”, you can figure out how to fix the problem.

Salty water has an unpleasant taste, and it doesn’t stop there. Depending on the cause of your salty water, you could experience nasty side effects like diarrhea from drinking this water. Chloride minerals can also damage your plumbing if left untreated.

The first thing to do is test your water. This will tell you whether you’re dealing with specific contaminants that could be linked to the sodium taste, and which water treatment you should use to remove them.

Reverse Osmosis

The simplest solution for getting rid of a salty water problem is to filter out the contaminant causing the problem.

Sulfate and chloride are fairly difficult to remove. The average water filter pitcher or carbon filter might be unable to remove these dissolved minerals. The most effective treatment is to use a reverse osmosis system.

Reverse osmosis uses multiple filter and membrane stages to remove up to 99% TDS, including those responsible for giving your tap water a salty taste.

The RO semi-permeable membrane contains tiny pores that allow only water particles to pass through. The remaining contaminants, which are too large to slip through the pores, are flushed out of the system down the drain.

If you’re unable to fix your water supply at the source – and it’s unlikely that you have this level of control – RO water treatment is the next best thing.

You can learn more about the RO filtration process by checking out this handy infographic and if you want to see my top picks for the best reverse osmosis systems on the market, click here.

  • Jennifer Byrd
    Water Treatment Specialist

    For 20+ years, Jennifer has championed clean water. From navigating operations to leading sales, she's tackled diverse industry challenges. Now, at Redbird Water, she crafts personalized solutions for homes, businesses, and factories. A past Chamber President and industry advocate, Jennifer leverages her expertise in cutting-edge filtration and custom design to transform water concerns into crystal-clear solutions.

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