Sodium in Drinking Water

Sodium is a natural mineral found in food and water. It can be in the water we drink or can be impacted by road salt, water treatment chemicals or water softeners.

Sodium testing and reporting

Public Health must be notified when sodium levels in public drinking water exceed 20 milligrams per litre (20 mg/L). This information is then made available to residents and local physicians to help patients on sodium-restricted diets control their sodium intake.

You can find out about sodium levels in public drinking water by visiting your local municipality’s website and reviewing the Drinking Water Annual Report which is updated each January.

Find your municipality’s Drinking Water Annual Report below

City of Guelph: Water quality testing and reports

Wellington County

Dufferin County

If you have a private well and are concerned about sodium, consider testing your water through a private licensed laboratory. This is especially important if your well is close to a road where salt is used during the winter.

Sodium and your health

Our bodies need sodium to help keep our blood pressure stable, manage how much fluid is in our bodies and making sure our nerves and muscles work properly. For most people, the sodium in drinking water isn’t a concern because only about 5-10% of the sodium adults consume comes from our water. The largest source of sodium in the diet comes from processed foods, snack foods, soups, condiments, fast food and restaurants.

Health Canada recommends adults consume between 1200-1500 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day and not more than 2300 mg per day. Some examples of sodium amounts are:

  • One half teaspoon of table salt has about 1150 mg of sodium.
  • If the sodium level in your drinking water is 20 mg/L, drinking two liters of water per day would contribute 40 mg of sodium to your diet per day.

Although less than 5-10% of the daily intake of sodium typically comes from water, this could be significant for people who have severe high blood pressure or congestive heart failure who may require a sodium-restricted diet. People with these conditions should consult their physicians if the sodium level in their drinking water exceeds 20 mg/L.

If you are generally concerned about the sodium in your drinking water, consult with your family doctor. They can provide you with the best advice for managing your sodium intake.

Removing sodium from water

Boiling your water or using charcoal filtration like a Brita filter does not remove sodium.

Water-softening devices can add significant amounts of sodium to your drinking water. If you have a sodium-based water softener, use a separate, unsoftened water supply for cooking and drinking. If a separate line is not possible, consider installing a reverse osmosis filter under your sink.

Another option is to use potassium instead of sodium in your water softener. But keep in mind, too much potassium might mean complications for those who take medication that affects potassium levels. It’s best to talk to your doctor about this decision.

For more information on sodium in drinking water see the fact sheet below or contact 1-800-265-7293 ext. 4753 to speak to a Public Health Inspector.