How to Remove Salt from Softened Water – Does RO Work?

Why Should You Know How to Remove Salt from Softened Water?

When water softeners soften hard water, small amounts of salt (which is essentially sodium chloride) are often used. However, not everyone is a fan of drinking water with sodium chloride in it, especially those that are required to undergo a low sodium diet.

This article is the right place for you to learn to remove salt from softened water because we will be covering the different methods you can use for removing salt as well as alternative water softening methods that you can try out.

Besides knowing how to remove salt from softened water, this article will also provide you with information on how a traditional ion exchange water softener works, and why you’re getting salt in your water. In addition, we’ll also talk about the different water treatment systems that don’t require salt and also some tips for you to reduce sodium consumption. Without further ado, let’s jump right into this guide.

The Process of Softening Water

Water softeners nowadays utilize a process known as ion exchange to provide you with softened water. The ion exchange process is able to physically remove the naturally occurring mineral ions, namely calcium carbonate and magnesium, which are responsible for scale.

During this process, there will be a resin bed that is filled with small gelatinous beads which are essentially resin beads. These beads are covered in sodium ions and when hard water goes through the softener, the calcium and magnesium ions in the water will be exchanged with sodium ions on the resin beads.

This is pretty much how ion exchange systems work and the reason why you’ll have water with added salt at the end of the softening process. Ion exchange ensures that your water is free of hard minerals by exchanging it with sodium ions. This is why the water softening system needs to regenerate and replenish the sodium ions and flush away the accumulated hardness minerals.

How to Remove Salt from Soft Water

The salt or brine solution that enters your drinking water from the process of ion exchange is fairly little and not anything you need to worry about if you do not have any dietary restrictions. As such, it is not likely that you’ll be consuming too much sodium, since the amount of sodium is minimal.

However, if you do have dietary restrictions and don’t wish to consume more salt than you should, then you have a good reason for reducing as much sodium as possible. There are several options out there that you can consider for removing salt from softened water and let’s take a look at them.

Does reverse osmosis remove salt from water softener?

One of the best ways that you can remove salt from softened water is using a reverse osmosis system. What reverse osmosis does is that it forces water through a semipermeable membrane, ensuring all total dissolved solids, including sodium mineral ions are removed and as a result, you will get pure water. Reverse osmosis is also used on a large scale for the desalination of seawater.

Not only is reverse osmosis the most effective method for removing sodium from softened water, but it is also highly effective when it comes to getting rid of other contaminants such as nitrates, mineral and metal ions, bacteria, protozoa, viruses, and others.

If you install a reverse osmosis system, do expect it to come after your water softening system because it can ensure that your drinking water will be softened, filtered, and most importantly, free of salt that was added during softening.

While reverse osmosis systems provide many benefits for your drinking water, they might not be as advantageous in other aspects. For instance, a big downside of a reverse osmosis system is the expensive price tag it comes with. Most people find the cost of running a water softener and a reverse osmosis system to be too high.


Other than reverse osmosis systems, water distillation units are great choices for removing salt from softened water. Unlike reverse osmosis, the distillation process uses a distiller to boil the soft water until it evaporates, which leaves the salts and minerals in the boiling chamber. The evaporated water will then go through a cooling corridor and condense, giving you distilled water.

Distillers are usually available as countertop units, which means you will need to transfer the soft water from your faucet into the distiller. Not only is this a troublesome procedure for some people, but the distillation process can also take a very long time. In addition, distilled water typically has no minerals and it makes the water taste “plain”.


Last but not least, the electrodialysis system is also a great method for removing salt from your drinking water. However, this method is less common as compared to reverse osmosis systems and distillers. So if you want choices that are more readily available, we would suggest you opt for reverse osmosis water filters or distillers.

Anyways, an electrodialysis system works in such a way that it sends an electrical current through electrodes or conductors. What happens is that the dissolved salts in your soft water will be strained through an ion exchange membrane. As a result, the water will be separated into two channels: one with a high sodium content and one with low sodium content.

Types of Salt-Free Water Treatment Systems

To save yourself the trouble of having to remove salt from softened water, you can consider softening your water without using any salt at all. The following are some of the different types of salt-free water treatment systems that you can take into consideration. Keep in mind that these systems each have their own pros and cons, so there isn’t one that’s best for every household.

Salt-Free Water Conditioners

First up, we have water conditioners. These conditioners use a media to crystallize minerals from the water and in the process, they will not be adding any chemicals or salt. This salt-free water conditioning process is also known as template-assisted crystallization (TAC). When in a crystallized form, minerals cannot stick to surfaces as scale.

This method of treating water is an excellent option for anyone that wishes to have high levels of minerals in their water. It is also one of the best options for people that want to avoid adding sodium to their diets due to health reasons such as high blood pressure. One downside about water conditioners is that they are not as effective as water softeners when it comes to reducing scale.

Salt-Free Magnetic Water Treatment

Magnetic water treatment uses a magnetic field to change the polarity of the minerals present in your drinking water. As a result, it will cause them to clump together and prevent them from turning into scales. While a magnetic water system is inexpensive to install, it actually doesn’t work as well as other softening systems when it comes to lowering the high levels of hardness or iron.

Potassium Chloride

If you are planning to lower your salt intake from the water you drink, but still want to use a traditional water softener, we would recommend you to use a potassium chloride-based water softener. Instead of using sodium chloride to soften water, this type of system uses potassium chloride to do so.

However, potassium chloride is on the pricier side as compared to the typical salt, so it wouldn’t make much sense if you don’t already have an existing ion exchange water softener. If you do have one, then it would be a logical financial choice to start using potassium chloride.

Tips for Reducing Sodium Intake

The salt content in softened water is quite minimal and is still safe to consume on a daily basis. It is also unlikely that you’re consuming too much sodium from soft water alone. So unless you have a good enough reason to need to remove sodium from softened water, we’d recommend you try out the following tips instead of reducing your sodium intake from your drinking water.

  • Check the sodium levels of the food you eat. One of the easiest ways to control how much sodium you’re consuming is by checking the sodium content of the foods you eat. You may go search on the internet for a list of foods that are high in sodium and try to avoid them. Even if you do eat them, don’t add more table salt.
  • Stay away from processed foods. These types of foods are usually extremely high in sodium, which is why they taste delicious and make you crave for them. It is best to stay away from them entirely if you are trying to control how much sodium you consume daily.
  • Use herbs and spices to give your food more flavor instead of table salt. Using salt to give your foods more flavor is something that we all do. However, this directly increases your salt intake drastically because the more you add, the tastier it will be. Instead, use different herbs and spices as most of them are sodium-free. Some examples that you can consider using are onion powder, nutritional yeast, garlic, and smoked paprika.
  • Avoid any drink with high sodium levels. If you are a fan of sports drinks and energy drinks, you should expect them to have sodium added in it. The sodium levels in those drinks are way higher than the sodium you’re getting in soft water. If you really want to remove sodium from the things you eat and drink, then be sure to stay away from drinks like these and stick to normal drinking water.


Most people are not bothered by the extra sodium in their soft water, but it is still important to know how to remove salt from softened water because you never know when it’ll come in handy. This is especially true if you are experiencing health issues such as high blood pressure. By knowing how to remove salt from softened water, it will be much easier for you to decide the right treatment system for your house.


How much sodium do I need?

By understanding how much sodium you actually need, it will be easier for you to decide whether it’s necessary to remove salt from your soft water or not. Most Americans consume on average about 3,400 mg of sodium daily. However, the recommended sodium intake for adults should be less than 2,300 mg per day, which is the same as 1 teaspoon of salt.

Here is the sodium content of some of the common food items:

  • 1 cup of milk – 107.4 mg
  • 1 ounce of cheese – 176.1 mg
  • half a bagel – 215.1 mg
  • 3 ounces of cold cuts – 1,099.7 mg
  • 2 slices of bread – 117.8 mg

How much sodium is already in my water?

Your tap water usually has about 4 mg of sodium per 100 grams, so that means it’s almost impossible for you to exceed the recommended daily sodium consumption of 2,300 mg.

How to make softened water drinkable?

Hard water usually contains various unwanted minerals such as calcium carbonate and magnesium. You will also find sodium present in hard water and softening it only gets rid of the unwanted minerals. Water softeners will normally add 46 mg of sodium for every 100 mg of hardness minerals in the water.

To ensure that you can drink softened water safely, you can consider using a reverse osmosis filter as it is one of the most thorough systems on the market. However, it is on the pricier side so it might not be the best choice if you’re on a tight budget.

Can an RO system remove all the salt?

Yes. RO systems are highly effective when it comes to removing salt, manganese, iron, fluoride, lead, and calcium from your water. This is thanks to its semi-permeable membrane that traps any mineral components in your water that are larger than water molecules. With an RO system, you can ensure that your water is safe to drink.

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