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Why Does My Water Taste Salty?

Your water tastes salty due to chloride ions and sulfates in your water supply. Unless you are on a strict low sodium diet, I assure you that it is not a cause for concern. 

Even so, drinking salty water is not exactly a pleasant way to quench your thirst, which can be problematic in the long run.

To help you figure out the issue, let me walk you through the factors affecting your water quality. 

Reasons Why My Water Taste Salty

Bicarbonate, calcium, magnesium, nitrate, silica, potassium, sulfate, chloride, and sodium are some examples of dissolved solids that naturally occur in water. 

Excessive quantities of these substances can alter the flavor of your drinking water. But what gives it a distinct saline taste are the high concentrations of chloride ions and sulfates. 

If your water softener is failing, it is probably a cause for contamination.  

Let’s dig deeper into these three factors to understand better why your water taste salty:

1. High Concentration of Chloride Ions

Science Direct says that chloride concentrations higher than 250 milligrams/liter (mg/L) can make water taste salty. Yet, some folks with sensitive taste buds can detect it even at as low as 150 mg/L.

These dissolved solids can seep through the local reservoirs if they are close to the sea or ocean. Hence, coastal communities are more prone to experiencing this issue. 

But even if you are living somewhere inland, your water can still get contaminated with chloride ions due to industrial waste and excess irrigation water. 

2. High Concentration of Sulfates

High Concentration of Sulfates

Sulfates like magnesium sulfate and sodium sulfate can give your water a saline taste. 

By nature, certain types of soils and rocks contain sulfates. Groundwater and rainwater flowing through the earth carry these contaminants into your water source. 

The industrial waste in your location can also increase the concentration of sulfates, making your water taste salty. 

3. Water Softener Issues

A water softener is an appliance that traps the calcium and magnesium minerals and then exchanges them for sodium or potassium. This appliance is a must-have for people living in areas with hard water, but it has some trade-offs. 

As the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency points out, not all municipal treatment plants can remove the salty brine from the appliance’s wastewater. Consequently, the salt would end up in the lake, entering the local reservoirs. 

The salty aftertaste in your drinking water can also indicate that your appliance is malfunctioning or the settings are not appropriately programmed. 

Are There Any Health Effects of Drinking Salty Water?

Amid massive water crises in various cities, I’m sure many of you are wondering, “Why can’t we just drink seawater?”

Well, that’s because our bodies need fresh water so that our kidneys can do their job of removing excess salt through urination. 

Excessive amounts of salt in our bodies will give our kidneys a hard time collecting enough freshwater to dilute it, which puts our health at risk!

How Can Salt Get Into Well Water?

How Can Salt Get Into Well Water?

Your groundwater may still contain some salt levels even if your water supply is located far away from the sea. In other words, dissolved solids like chlorides and sulfates exist naturally in the groundwater.

It is also possible that your pump is drawing saline water from a deeper source, which gets into your well. 

Living near roads can also be a factor. During wintertime, rainwater and melting snow carry de-icing salts into lakes and then seep through the groundwater. 

What Should I Do If My Water Tastes Like Salt?

Although salty water is not a health hazard, it can destroy your pipes and boilers. If I were you, I would get it tested immediately.

You can identify the dissolved solids that contaminated your water supply and find appropriate solutions. Go to the EPA’s website and find a testing lab nearest you.  

However, if you suspect that it’s your water softener, you can troubleshoot on your own or call the manufacturer. Fortunately, there are tons of resources available to guide you in fixing your appliance.

People Also Ask:

Is salty tap water safe to drink?

Generally, tap water with a salty aftertaste is safe to drink. 

According to the World Health Organization, drinking water with under 200 mg/L of sodium would still taste like “fresh drinking water.” Even if it goes beyond this amount, the water is drinkable.

Of course, the effects vary from one person to another. For this reason, state and federal agencies do not recommend people with high blood pressure or kidney, heart, or liver diseases drinking in water with sodium levels beyond 20 mg/L. 

In this Science Direct article, many researchers also say that even the healthiest people can suffer from diarrhea if they are not used to drinking water with sulfates of more than 600 mg/L.

How can you tell if the water is salty?

In many cases, people detect the changes in the quality of their water supply by chance. They woke up one day and found out that the water suddenly tasted salty after drinking from the tap.

You can also determine the salinity of your water by taking some samples to a lab to get it tested.

Why does my water taste salty after regeneration?

One possible explanation is that your water softener’s timer is set incorrectly. Most manufacturers recommend that the regeneration process be carried out when you do not need to use soft water. This can be either at night or when you are not at home.

If you use your water softener while it is regenerating, it will not be able to give you sufficient soft water. Plus, it can fill your pipes with saline water.

The weird taste can also signify that there is something wrong with your appliance. Jammed water pre-filters or malfunctioning valves leave salt in your water softener tank.


Whether it is due to high concentrations of dissolved solids or a broken water softener, it is best not to ignore the salty taste in your water.

As we learned in this article, these contaminants can damage your pipes and cause diarrhea. Addressing the problem early on will keep your tap water safe to drink and save you thousands of dollars worth of repairs. 

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