Salt Free Water Softeners & Sodium in WaterDear Mark, After reading a lot of the questions and answers on your blog, I'm wondering if there is ANY good water softener that operates without salt and that doesn't cost a fortune? Salt in drinking water is a health concern for me. I'm borderline high blood pressure. I don't salt my food but I'm obviously drinking it! Can you please give me some help with this? Thanks!! VN --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dear VN, You actually bring up several issues here. Issue 1: Are there any good salt-free water softeners that don’t cost a fortune? Issue 2: Is salt in the drinking water a concern? Issue 3: What are my options? That’s what I see the issues are, so we will deal with them one at a time: Issue 1: Are there any good salt-free water softeners that don’t cost a fortune? No, there are no good salt-free conditioners that don’t cost a fortune, BUT we can provide soft, salt-free water with a properly designed reverse osmosis system for a home that could run $3,600 to $7,900.00. Other than that, there are no salt free water softeners. Oh, there are plenty of companies who SAY they have a salt-free water softener, but that is simply untrue. Pure and Clear Fiction. Issue 2: Is salt in the drinking water a concern? Here’s the answer that might surprise you. Sodium is essential to health. Your body needs sodium to function properly. Sodium does the following:
- Sodium helps maintain the fluid balance at the proper level your body needs;
- Sodium helps with the contraction and relaxation of your body’s muscles; and
- Sodium helps transmit nerve impulses.
When your sodium levels are low, your kidneys essentially hold on to the sodium. When sodium levels are high, your kidneys excrete the excess in urine. But if for some reason your kidneys can't eliminate enough sodium, the sodium starts to accumulate in your blood. Because sodium attracts and holds water, your blood volume increases. Increased blood volume makes your heart work harder to move more blood through your blood vessels, which increases pressure in your arteries. Such diseases as congestive heart failure, cirrhosis and chronic kidney disease can make it hard for your kidneys to keep sodium levels balanced. Some people's bodies are more sensitive to the effects of sodium than are others. If you're sodium sensitive, you retain sodium more easily, leading to fluid retention and increased blood pressure. If this becomes chronic, it can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and congestive heart failure.Unfortunately, most Americans consume too much salt, and most of it is from a diet of highly processed food, not water. Americans average 3,400 mg of sodium a day, but the Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sodium to 2,300 mg a day and only 1,500 mg a day if you are over 51 years old. Water softeners do add some sodium to the water. The amount of sodium a water softener adds to tap water depends on the "hardness" of the water. Hard water contains large amounts of calcium and magnesium. Most water softeners remove the calcium and magnesium and replace them with sodium. The higher the concentration of calcium and magnesium, the more sodium needed to soften the water. Even so, the added sodium doesn't add up to much. Here’s a rule of thumb: for every grain per gallon (gpg) of hardness, you add 2 milligrams of sodium. So, if your water is 15 grains of hardness, you would have 30 mg of sodium in your water, which is well within the Food and Drug Administration's definition of "very low sodium" which is “less than 140 mg”. As you can see, the majority of sodium in the average diet comes from table salt and processed foods. Therefore, the best way to decrease the sodium in your diet is by cutting back on table salt and processed foods. Issue 3: What are my options? That said, you may still have some sodium in your water, and while it is doubtful drinking softened water would raise your sodium intake much, you could decide to utilize a reverse osmosis system which is remarkable in its’ ability to remove salt from the water. In most cases it will remove over 95% of the sodium, to say nothing of all the other potential contaminants such as pesticides, THM’s, chlorine and a host of chemicals. Reverse osmosis removes the widest spectrum of contaminants at the lowest cost (typically 2 cents a gallon) than any other water treatment process. I’m going to suggest that sodium in your water, while undesirable, is not a health threat, but THM’s, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and pesticides are carcinogens or dangerous. If you want to re-mineralize, there are reverse osmosis systems that even add minerals back to the water. I hope that helps.