Artificially softened water is not necessarily bad for you. People on low-sodium diets are sometimes told to avoid artificially softened water because the softening process replaces calcium ions with sodium ions, but that doesn’t mean it is “salty”, and a pint of softened water might contain less salt than a slice of bread.

If an ultra-low-sodium diet is essential, medically (such as for heart conditions), then you can use potassium chloride to regenerate the ion-exchange resin beads instead of sodium chloride – although potassium can cause its own problems, and should be avoided by people with kidney problems or diabetes

However, water softeners are installed to provide water for washing, not drinking, and most people prefer to drink hard water because it tastes better. That is why it is normal to install one unsoftened “drinking water” tap to the kitchen sink, which is fed direct from the mains, with the rest of the house taking its water via the softener. Water softener suppliers often include a special tap – attached to an under-sink carbon filter – as part of the deal.

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