Eliminating Salt from Well Water
Salt is a common substance that can leach into groundwater and drinking supplies from a variety of places causing water well contamination. When salt dissolves in water, it breaks up into positively- and negatively-charged sodium and chloride ions. These ions are so common that they are found in every water supply at some level.
People often ask us if they should remove sodium and chloride from their water. While your water is likely to have a low amount of these substances, there are cases where the level of sodium and chloride can affect taste, or needs to be lowered because of a doctor-prescribed no-sodium diet.
How much salt is too much for well water?
While you may be concerned there is too much sodium or chloride in your water, remember that most of the sodium we ingest every day comes from food and far exceeds the amounts found in any New Hampshire water supply.
The most pristine water in New Hampshire has less than 20 milligrams per liter, or parts per million, of sodium and 30 mg/L of chloride. On the Seacoast, the sodium and chloride levels are often higher – about 75 mg/L of sodium and 150 mg/L of chloride. This is usually caused by the proximity to the ocean and the effects of wind-blown sea spray. This is considered a low amount of sodium. In comparison, a glass of milk has about 500 mg/L of sodium.
Higher sodium and chloride levels in other areas usually mean there is contamination from human activity, such as road salt, discharges from water softeners, animal or human waste disposal and contamination from a landfill.
How Does sodium and chloride get into my water well?
A common source is from road salt, spread on roads, driveways, and stairwells to prevent slippery conditions during snow and ice storms. In the United State, an average of 23 million tons of salt was applied to roads, parking lots, sidewalks and driveways each year from 2005 to 2009. Studies have shown that in urban areas, about 95 percent of the chloride that enters local watersheds comes from road salt. This is especially a problem along the Interstate 93 corridor, where there are four impaired watersheds.
Another source of sodium is water softeners. During the water filtration process, water interacts with a salt resin. The contaminants, like calcium and magnesium, are replaced with sodium. As a result, sodium is added to the home’s drinking water, as well as the discharged water brine. The amount of sodium added is based on the water’s hardness level – the more hardness, the more sodium is needed to treat the water.
There are some ways to remove sodium and chloride from your home water supply. They are listed below:
Reverse osmosis: In a reverse osmosis filtration system, water flows through a membrane, filtering out some of the molecules within the water, including sodium and chloride. These molecules, plus some water, are flushed into your home’s wastewater system. The treated water is stored in a small storage tank until needed. This system can be installed at the point-of-use, such as at the kitchen sink, or could be used to treat the water for your whole house.
Distillation: A distillation water treatment system uses temperature change to evaporate and recondense clean water. Inorganic minerals, such as such as sodium and chloride, do not usually transfer into the condensed water, but some organic contaminants will. These systems are installed either under the sink or counter and can increase a home’s energy costs.
Deionization: Similar to a water softener, in a deionization system water, is filtered through a resin, but acids and bases are used rather than salt to regenerate the system. While it is effective, there are some hazardous chemicals required in running the system.
Most people do not need to remove sodium and chloride from their home’s water supply for health reasons, but if you have concerns about these substances in your water, contact Skillings & Sons for a consultation.