Watertechadvice.com is supported by readers. If you purchase through referral links on our site, we make a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

Why Does My Water Taste Salty?

By: Craig Smith
Last Updated:

If you are experiencing a salty taste with your tap water, it may surprise you to learn that more than one problem can cause that. Chances are that you also use a well for your water supply.

Although an overly salty taste in water is a big turnoff for most water drinkers, don’t worry too much because it’s a problem that can be corrected very easily and for a fair price.

That’s what I would like to discuss with you here. I will go over with you the reasons why drinking water sometimes tastes salty and most importantly, how to resolve this condition (through reverse osmosis mainly). 

That way your water will become much more pleasant to drink because it has no salty aftertaste. Once you install an efficient salt removal device, you should never again have to ask ‘why does my water taste salty’.

Reasons Why Water May Taste Salty

Here are some of the main causes of salty tasting water:

1. High concentration chloride ions

If you are wondering what are the most common causes of salty water, that would be higher than normal concentration of chloride ions. There are a variety of ways that they can find their way into your well water supply. They very rarely are the cause of salty tasting municipal water.   

Most often, a large concentration of chloride ions makes their way into your drinking water as surface water makes its way underground and in the process leaches soils and rock.

This introduces highly soluble and mobile sodium chloride, potassium chloride, and calcium chloride into that groundwater that eventually ends up in an aquifer or other water supply. 

If you source your well water from an aquifer with higher-than-normal salt content, then it can cause that hard to take salty water taste.

2. High concentration of sulfates

Sulfates are very similar in chemical composition to chloride ions and can also cause water to taste salty.

Magnesium sulfate and other sulfates are mostly leached out of rocks and soils as groundwater makes its way down into aquifers much the same way chloride is gained from the leaching of salt deposits. This is most common in areas with shale beds.

Sodium sulfate and magnesium sulfate are also added into the water supply by industrial processes and these are commonly found in aquifers near areas with large shale waste disposal sites.

3. Water Softener Malfunction

Hard water-causing minerals in household water are often removed by water softening equipment. The most common ones found in homes use an ion exchange process to work. Resin beads in their main tank are coated with a brine solution.

The salt ions in the brine solution stick to the resin beads. When stronger charged hard water causing mineral ions are introduced into the main water softener tank, the salt ions are released into the water.

Many times, that salty water coming from water softeners is unfiltered before you drink it but usually not so much that you have a salty aftertaste.

Like any device, water softeners can and do malfunction from time to time. A miscalibration by the control system can cause the brine solution to have a high concentration of chloride in it. 

This is usually the only cause of a water’s salty taste from a local water supply.  

When this happens, you may notice the salty taste in your water becoming much more pronounced.

Adjusting the control settings may correct the high concentration of chloride but if not consult with the manufacturer. 

You may want to try putting your water softener through a regeneration cycle (cleaning cycle) to see if that clears up the salty aftertaste before contacting the manufacturer of your water softener model.  

How Does Salt Get into Well Water?

It was already discussed that the most common way for salt (chloride ions) to end up in your well is through the soil and rock leaching that occurs as surface water makes its way through salt deposits as it travels underground. 

Here are some of the other ways that high concentration of chloride can end up in your well water.

  • If you have a shallow well and you live close to the ocean
  • Sewage is now a common source of salt that ends up in aquifers because of increased human salt intake
  • You may live near an area where the roads are salted heavily in winter
  •  Industrial wastes can have large amounts of salts and sulfides in them
  • You may live in an area that has farmland treated with potash fertilizer (potassium chloride is a main ingredient)

Some test kits for well water can determine the amount of sodium chloride found in your tap water.

How Can I Fix Salty Tasting Water?

Some ion exchange processes are used to remove chloride ions in water that are used in salt-sensitive manufacturing processes such as making electronic and computer parts. But the best way to clean up salty-tasting water in your home is by using reverse osmosis filtration.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse Osmosis System

These are point-of-use filtration systems (usually placed near or under the kitchen sink) that work remarkably well when it comes to cleaning up tap water because of the extremely small pore size of the membranes that are placed inside them.

That pore size is often as small as 0.0001 microns. Since sodium chloride ions are larger than that (0.0007 microns), they are easily filtered out of the water that passes through reverse osmosis filters.     

The nice thing about using reverse osmosis technology to clean up your tap water is that it will clean up many more unwanted drinking water contaminants than just sodium chloride. You will end up with some very high water quality in the glasses of water that you drink.  

Here is a nice read from us about how RO filtration works.

Conclusion

If you find that your drinking water tastes salty and this does not resolve itself in a few days, then you should take steps to find the source of the problem.

Since this is not always easy to do, especially if you don’t have a water softener in your home, you may have to resort to filtration to take care of the problem. As was mentioned, the best type of drinking water filtration system to do that is reverse osmosis filtration.

These are systems that are not as expensive as you might think for the many different ways that they will purify your tap water. I own one and I highly recommend them. 

If you purchase and install a RO system, you will get better-tasting drinking water and you will feel more confident in the water quality that you drink.  

Photo of author
AUTHOR
Craig Smith
Craig got his start in water working in the swimming pool and spa industry. Water treatment would grow into his main career but he ended up working in the pool industry for over 26 years where much of his time was spent balancing the water in customer's swimming pools and installing water filtration equipment. Craig offers an abundance of water treatment knowledge after helping homeowners get pure water for 26 years.

Learn More About The Water Tech Editorial Team