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Battling High Blood Pressure? Should You Switch To A Salt-Free Water Softener?

Whether you've only recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure, or have been battling this "silent killer" for years, you may be looking for ways to lower your salt intake (and therefore your blood pressure) without dramatically compromising your lifestyle. As you begin to survey the various ways salt can enter your body, your attention may be drawn to an unsuspecting culprit -- your water softener. Can the pellets of salt used to remove mineral ions from your drinking water be adding to your sodium intake? Read on to learn more about whether switching to a salt-free water softener can help reduce your blood pressure.  

Do ion-exchange water softeners increase the sodium content of water?

The harder your water, the more salt required to "soften" it -- and although most of this salt is filtered out before the water reaches the tap, some sodium does make it into the drinking supply. Studies estimate that the average sodium content of an 8-ounce glass of "soft" water is around 12.5 milligrams, which is around one-fourth of the sodium content of a similarly-sized glass of club soda

Because the sodium content of softened water is so low, unless you've already dramatically cut your dietary intake of sodium, it's unlikely that switching to a salt-free water softener will make much of a difference. However, if you drink a lot of water at home -- or frequently use this water for cooking -- you may still be interested in reducing your sodium intake wherever you can.

How do salt-free water softeners work?

There are two main types of water softeners that don't use salt -- ion-exchange softeners that utilize potassium tablets in place of salt pellets, and reverse-osmosis filters that filter out mineral ions through a permeable membrane.

Ion-exchange softeners work by replacing the harder mineral ions in your water with "softer" salt or potassium ions. As hard water enters the softener, the salt or potassium pellets filter ions through to replace the mineral ions in the water, essentially neutralizing these minerals in an "ion exchange."

Reverse osmosis water softeners force this water through a thin membrane that filters out the slightly larger mineral ions and allows the softened water to travel through. You'll need to change this filter periodically to ensure its effectiveness.

Both potassium-based ion-exchange softeners and reverse osmosis softeners may be a good alternative for those with high blood pressure or who have already attempted to cut out all excess sodium in their diets.