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Reuben Saltzman

Cold hard kitchen water

Here in the Twin Cities metro area, it’s standard procedure to run a separate water line for un-softened cold water to the kitchen. I don’t like it, and I think this trend ought to change.

When I used to live in Minneapolis, this was a non-issue. Minneapolis has great water, and there is no need for a water softener at all. When I moved to Maple Grove, living without a water softener simply wasn’t an option. The water up here is very hard and will leave deposits over everything and gunk up the faucets very quickly. A working water softener is important.

Much to my annoyance, the cold water to my kitchen wasn’t softened when I moved in. Visit just about any home built in the Twin Cities over the last thirty years, and about 80% of any other homes that have water softeners, and you’ll find the same to be true. The cold water line to the kitchen bypasses the water softener on purpose. Plumbers actually go out of their way to do this.

I’ve had plumbers outside of the metro area tell me that this is no longer being done, but this is almost all that I ever see on new construction homes here in the Twin Cities. This is still standard practice.

Why the cold hard water to the kitchen

I’ve asked a lot of plumbers about this, and they’ve all given me the same answer; it’s an option. Some people like the option of having hard water available, both for consumption and for watering plants. I guess you’re not supposed to water your plants with soft water.

As for consumption, the idea is that we already get too much sodium in our diet, and we shouldn’t be getting even more from our water.

How much sodium is added to softened water? According to Pure Water Products, LLC, the amount of sodium added by a water softener depends on how hard the water was to start with. Here in Maple Grove, the water hardness ranges from 22 grains per gallon (gpg) to 25 gpg. To make it really simple, they say to multiply the grains of hardness by 1.89, and you have the total mg of sodium that is added to water through the softening process in one 8 oz glass of water. In other words, an 8 oz glass of softened Maple Grove water would have 25 x 1.89 mg of sodium, or about 50 mg.

To put that into perspective, a single slice of Brownberry® whole grain Outnut bread contains 150 mg of sodium. It’s not nothing, and if you drink 50 glasses of water a day (or whatever number the experts are recommending these days), that can add up to a lot of sodium. Maybe.

Yeah, but still

Despite the added sodium intake, I prefer soft water to the kitchen. Just a few months after moving to Maple Grove, my coffee maker bit the dust. All of those hard water deposits gunked it up and ruined it. A friend of mine had the same thing happen with an expensive espresso machine right after he moved from Minneapolis to Saint Louis Park.

Not only that, but the cartridges in my kitchen faucet used to constantly get ruined from the hard water deposits, and I’d have to replace the guts of my kitchen faucet every one to two years. I’d also constantly have hard water deposits build up around my faucet that I’d religiously clean every few months. It was very annoying.

To me, the downsides of hard water outweigh the downsides of soft water.

How to know what you have

If you have a water softener and you want to know whether or not the cold water running to the kitchen is softened, you have a few options. First, look at the base of your faucet. If it’s full of hard water deposits, the answer is yes. You have hard water coming into your kitchen. You’re welcome.

If you want a more technical method, you could buy some water hardness test strips. You’ll find a major difference in hardness between the hot and cold water at the kitchen sink if the cold is hard.

Finally, you could just go down to your basement and take a look at the water lines. If you have a 1/2″ water line with no shutoff valve tapped off of the water line before the softener, you’re surely looking at a hard water line running to the kitchen.

hard water line to kitchen

If you want to change this, it’s pretty simple. Just re-route the water line to the kitchen from the hard side to the cold side of the water softener. If you’re not comfortable doing that kind of work, hire a plumber. In most cases, this will be a quick and easy job, and you’ll be glad you did it.

I re-routed my own water line to supply softened water to the kitchen sink about a year ago and now I’m happy. All the time.

If you want the benefits of soft water but you don’t want the added sodium intake, install a reverse osmosis system, which will remove the added sodium. A filter won’t.

Author: Reuben SaltzmanStructure Tech Home Inspections

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No responses to “Cold hard kitchen water”

  1. Gerd Knops
    May 1, 2018, 7:57 am

    I learned a lot from your blog, thanks! But this I can’t agree with. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 1500mg of sodium a day. Having a lot of that come in the water where it doesn’t even add flavor doesn’t sound that great to me.

    So I stick with the hard water in the kitchen, and use a reverse osmosis system (fed by hard water) for my cooking and coffee needs. In over 20 years I never had to descale a coffee maker.

  2. Reuben Saltzman
    May 1, 2018, 8:48 am

    Hi Gerd, thank you for reading! If you’re already using a reverse osmosis system, running soft water to your kitchen won’t affect your sodium intake.

  3. Patty Mac
    May 1, 2018, 12:41 pm

    We live in St. Paul, but get our water from a well and so have very hard water. We do run soft water to the kitchen sink, but we have a separate spout for hard cold water for drinking, cooking and watering the plants. I don’t want the extra sodium — but even more important is that the soft water tastes awful! Our well water is delicious. (Thanks for the blog — my husband and I read it religiously — full of great info.)

  4. Reuben Saltzman
    May 3, 2018, 4:41 am

    Hi Patty, thanks for reading! All of these comments about the taste are actually a surprise to me. I had no idea that so many people disliked the taste of softened water.

  5. Tyler
    May 1, 2018, 1:31 pm

    I’ve read multiple places that cooking with soft water will change the flavor of food. Extra salt while your cooking pasta, etc

  6. Reuben Saltzman
    May 3, 2018, 4:39 am

    Hi Tyler, that’s certainly possible. I can’t tell the difference, however.

  7. Dana
    May 2, 2018, 12:10 pm

    I just can’t agree with this. I have a very powerful sense of taste and soft water makes me absolutely nauseous. I refuse to drink it and I will only have hard water on the cold to my kitchen sink. Please don’t push your personal opinion on your customers, I hope you give them all the choice and you don’t make a decision for them.

  8. Alan Mackenthun
    May 2, 2018, 8:02 pm

    I’m sure this is his personal opinion. I don’t ever remember seeing mention of this in the reports I’ve received from Structure Tech.

  9. Reuben Saltzman
    May 3, 2018, 4:35 am

    Hi Alan,

    Yes, you’re correct. This is my opinion. Other inspectors here at Structure Tech might not even agree with me.

  10. Reuben Saltzman
    May 3, 2018, 4:37 am

    Hi Dana,

    You and my son, ha! He doesn’t like the taste of softened water either. Nobody else in my family cares. As Alan guessed, this is only my opinion. This isn’t a recommendation that gets put in my inspection reports, much less the reports of the rest of the inspectors here at Structure Tech.

  11. Ben Franske
    May 6, 2018, 9:02 pm

    I’ll volunteer to represent the other side of things. I actually much prefer the taste of soft water (either naturally soft or softened) or water that has in some other way had the mineral content reduced. Then again it’s what I grew up with, I had no idea people were so passionate about drinking hard water. FWIW every house with a softener in Minnesota that I’ve seen has soft water everywhere except outside faucets (and I’ve even seen it there too if it’s a retrofit softener and no easy way to separate exterior faucets). As you correctly pointed out the amount of sodium intake from softened water is very small compared to other sources. Both the Mayo Clinic and National Institute of Health agree. If you’re concerned about sodium there are far better ways to reduce intake than to drink hard water, or as you mentioned install as reverse osmosis system.

  12. Reuben Saltzman
    May 7, 2018, 4:26 am

    Hi Ben, I’m glad to hear that someone agrees with me 🙂

    Thanks for chiming in.

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