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The Hard Water Corner

Common sense information about a common problem.

Water Softeners and Sodium in Your Drinking Water

Water Softeners and SodiumSodium

Most people who buy water softeners in Jacksonville FL and surrounding areas are doing so for the first time. A common question we get is how much sodium does a water softener add to my drinking water? Although it’s true water softeners do add sodium to your drinking water during the softening process however it’s a very low amount.

In this post we will discuss why sodium gets added, how much gets added, and how does the Food and Drug Administration classify the amounts.

resinHow Does Salt End up in Softened Water?

A water softener uses a cat-ion exchange resin bed that exchanges positively charged ions for positively charge ions.  The incoming hardness minerals (CaC03) are positively charged and so are the sodium ions. Think of resin as a tiny almost sand looking bead. A water softener will hold millions of these beads inside the tank. The amount resin or size of a water softener is referred to as grains. You may have seen water softeners in Jacksonville Florida referred to as a 32,000 grain or a 48,000 grain softening system. This simply refers to how much cat-ion resin is inside the tank. Different sizes exist because not all applications are the same. The surface area of cat-ion resin is negatively charged and thus attracts the positive charged sodium and calcium cat-ions.

 First the resin bed is coated with sodium ions during the process called regeneration. Once regeneration has occurred the resin bed is ready to exchange a sodium for a calcium ion, thus softening the water. The exchange site of the resin prefers the incoming calcium ions over the sodium ions and releases a sodium to capture a calcium ion. This process is called ion-exchange. It’s this process that removes the incoming hardness minerals that make your water hard and consequently it’s this process that adds the sodium to your water.  

How Much Salt Gets Added to Water during the Softening Process?

So how much sodium will be in your softened water? That all depends on how much hard water the system will be removing. Meaning the addition of sodium will be directly dependent to the amount of hardness minerals being removed. So if you have less hard water minerals you will have less sodium, if you have more hard water minerals you will have more sodium.

Less look closer. Jacksonville FL water softener systems have a tough job to do. Our area has some of the highest hard water mineral concentrations in the US. JEA says our water hardness as low 7 grains per gallon of hardness all the way up to 28 grains per gallon of hardness and everything in between. FYI the Water Quality Association classifies "very hard” water as 7-10.5 grains per gallon. CLICK HERE to review the JEA annual water quality report. So no matter where you are in Jacksonville and surrounding areas you have “very hard” water which is damaging to appliances and plumbing systems.

For our purposes of determining how much sodium does a water softener add during the softening process let’s look at three areas on the JEA water report.

Grid 4: Cecil Commerce Grid (Jacksonville West Side)
7 Grains of Hardness will yield a sodium level of 13 milligrams per 8 ounce glass.
Grid 18: Oakridge (Southside, Atlantic/Kernan/Hodges area)
 20 Grains of Hardness will yield a sodium level of 37.25 milligrams per 8 ounce glass
Grid 23: St. Johns Forest (CR 210/ St. Johns County)
28 Grains per gallon of Hardness will yield a sodium level of 52 milligrams per 8 ounce glass.

You see the amount of sodium added to water by a water softener in Jacksonville FL will vary depending on how hard your specific water is. There are 36 grids in JEA’s service area not to mention St. Johns utility and others. To determine how much hardness/sodium will be in your water contact us for a free in home water analysis. If nothing else we can help you with your research.

Does the Salt Have Negative Health Affects?

Florida Water Technologies Inc. is not a doctor’s office and we have no medical license to practice medicine and we cannot make a medical recommendation for you in any way. (A quick disclaimer to make my lawyer happyJ)  

That being said. The Food and Drug Administration has a lot of information on sodium content and daily intake. The FDA classifies how many milligrams of sodium per serving are considered sodium free, very low and low.

According to the FDA.org
Sodium free is considered less than 5 milligrams per serving
Very Low is considered less than 35 milligrams per serving
Low is considered less than 140 milligrams per serving

Based on that most of Jacksonville FL water softener systems will yield a per-serving sodium level that is considered as very low sodium according to the FDA. However a few grids (St. Johns Forest and Monument Road) will have a sodium per serving level that is considered as Low sodium per serving.

In fact to echo these findings Sheldon Shelps M.D. from Mayo Clinic wrote a healthy living article that speaks to this same subject. CLICK HERE to access the article.

Conclusion

Water softener systems in Jacksonville FL and surroundings areas only add a trace amount of sodium to the drinking water through the softening process. Most of your daily sodium intake is from the salt shaker and eating processed foods. However if you are on a sodium restricted diet or you medicate for blood pressure and reverse osmosis drinking filter would be a great addition to a water softener in Jacksonville FL. A reverse osmosis drinking water system removers the sodium that is added by the softener system.

Call or post a comment if you have more questions about this topic.

Thanks for your time.

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