What Makes Well Water Taste Salty? Reasons & Fixes

So you just tasted salt in your well water? Don’t worry. It isn’t a serious issue. You can easily track the cause and modify/upgrade your water filtration system to remove salt from well water.

In this article, we will discuss why your well water tastes salty and how you can fix it.

What Makes Well Water Taste Salty? Reasons & Fixes

Let’s go through the possible causes behind why your well water tastes salty.

High Chloride Levels

A high chloride concentration in water is often the reason behind a salty taste. Chloride ions can enter the water via underground water movement over rocks, sand, aquifers, and surface runoffs. These ions dissolve in water and become a part of water. Hence, they can’t be removed with a sediment filter. Chloride can also enter your water as a result of local pollution or from dumping sites nearby your well. Private wells near coastal areas often have salty water problems due to seawater entering your water supplies.

The EPA terms chloride as a secondary contaminant and has set its MCL to 250 mg/L. Chloride levels rarely go above this limit. Hence, drinking salty water is safe for your health unless you are on a sodium-free diet.

High Sulfate Levels

Higher sulfate levels in well water can also make it salty. Sulfates occur naturally in the earth and enter water when it moves underground. Sulfates in water can also be a result of industrial and agricultural pollution.

Salt Deposits

Private wells near salt mines and deposits usually have a higher salt content. Rainwater dissolves salt and seeps underground to contaminate well water. Private wells in New York, Kansas, Michigan, and Colorado frequently face this issue.


Private wells near coastal areas are prone to salty water because seawater is salty. Seawater enters private wells through seeping. These wells usually produce extremely high levels of chloride ions that can corrode plumbing pipes and appliances and discolor stainless steel sinks. You’ll have to consider a whole house filter to remove higher chloride levels in the water.

Agricultural and Industrial Waste

Wells located near agricultural and industrial waste sites often have higher chloride levels. Irrigation drainage and seepage carry chloride to underground water. Private wells near these sites often have dangerous contaminants like VOCs, herbicides, pesticides, and industrial solvents.

Water Softener Problems

A water softener removes calcium & magnesium from water and replaces them with sodium or potassium. Water softeners use softening salts (sodium or potassium) to remove these minerals. As a result, softened water has a slightly higher salt content.

Softener problems like clogged drain line, cracked water line, or incorrect programming can lead to salty water. Incorrect programming tricks softener into believing that it needs more salt than required.

Fixing the issue may require simple reprogramming or a general inspection of your softener. Sometimes you may need to replace the control head or the entire unit in extreme cases.

How to find out the Chloride Concentration in my Well Water?

The only way to find chloride concentration in well water is to conduct a water test. Testing for chloride isn’t complex; you can test it at home using a water testing kit.

A certified lab is recommended for more accurate results.

Salty Well Water – Fixes

The treatment method to filter chloride from well water varies based on chloride concentration. You may need a whole house filter to remove chloride if the levels are extremely high and/or a reverse osmosis filter for drinking water purification.

Whole House Water Filters

A whole house water filter is installed where water enters your home. Some people install a sediment filter or a water softener before a whole house filter depending on water quality. The purpose of installing a whole house filter is to supply better quality water to every tap in your home.

Reverse Osmosis

RO filters are used to improve drinking water quality. Most RO filters for well water are under sink filters that remove 99% of all the contaminants in water. A typical RO filter consists of 4-6 filtration stages with a sediment filter, carbon filters, RO membrane (chlorides are removed here), and post-RO (carbon) filter.

Some latest models also come with remineralization and UV purifiers for microorganisms. RO filters take a lot of time to filter water, which is why they come with a water tank. One important thing to consider is that RO filters waste 1-3 gallons of water for every gallon they filter.

RO filters also come in countertop versions. You can buy one if you have a small family or a tenant. Both under sink and countertop variants are equally effective in removing salty taste from water.

1. APEC 5-Stage Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System

APEC 5-Stage Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System

This filter can remove chlorides, chlorine, heavy metals, TDS, taste & odor, and other contaminants from the system. The five stages include a sediment filter, two carbon filters, a RO membrane, and a post-carbon filter for taste improvement.

The 100% lead-free system is WQA certified for contamination removal. It is easy to install and best for well water. Filtered water has better quality than bottled water.

2. Express Water UV RO 11-Stage Filter

Express Water UV RO 11-Stage Filter

The 11-stage RO filter is best for extremely contaminated water with microorganisms. The filter consists of a sediment filter, two carbon filters, an RO filter, a remineralization stage, a UV purifier, and a post-carbon filter.

It can remove up to 99% of all contaminants found in water. Moreover, the remineralization ensures that healthy minerals removed by the RO membrane are added back to your water.

Softener Setting

You may need to check your softener’s setting to reduce the salty taste. If your water tastes salty after it comes out of a water softener, your softener may be taking too much salt. Reduce hardness setting to reduce salt intake. Alternatively, you can get your water tested for hardness and adjust the softener accordingly.

If the water still tastes salty after adjusting the settings, the culprit can be leaky valves between resin and brine tanks. A clogged brine tank can also be a problem. Water softeners last for 12-15 years. Replacing your old softener with a new one can also fix the problem.

Is it safe to drink salty water?

Yes. Drinking salty water is safe unless you are on a sodium-free diet or suffer from blood pressure problems. Salty water contains small amounts of sodium. So, it is nothing to worry about.

How often should I get my well water tested for sodium and chlorides?

The EPA recommends annual testing for all private wells in the country. Moreover, private wells must be tested after floods, earthquakes, or whenever there is a noticeable change in water quality.

Final Words

Though salty well water is a rare issue, the good news is that it can be dealt with easily. Most salty well water issues are solved by installing a RO filter or adjusting your softener’s settings.

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