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Water Tastes Salty All of a Sudden: Causes & Solution

Scott Winfield
Written by Scott Winfield
Last Updated on

It can be pretty disconcerting to fill up a glass of water and get what tastes like a mouthful of saltwater—especially when the water has come from your own faucet. Not only does it taste bad, but it can also make other tasks like cooking impossible.

So, what can suddenly cause water to taste salty, and what can you do about it?


Why Does My Water Suddenly Taste Salty to Me?

If you’ve noticed a salty taste in your drinking water, there are several possible explanations. The three most common are:

  • A high concentration of chloride ions,
  • An issue with your water softener system,
  • Or the presence of sulfates in your drinking water.

There are also numerous contaminants that can give water a salty, metallic, or earthy taste. Let’s take a close look at the three usual culprits.

Salt in Spoon with Bowl of Water

1. High Chloride Ion Concentration

The primary cause of the salty-tasting water is an increased concentration of chloride ions. But why would there be an increased concentration in your water supply?

It’s likely because of industry. Various industrial processes use calcium, potassium, and sodium chlorides.

These chlorides can get into the water supply through surface runoff or weathering. If the water isn’t properly filtered, there may be a high volume of chloride ions in your drinking water, leading to a saline taste.

Increased chloride ion concentrations can also be caused by water pollution in your area. The types of pollution that typically cause this include:

  • Saltwater intrusion
  • Oil and natural gas drilling pollution
  • Fertilizer runoff
  • Salt mining pollution
  • Landfill leachate
  • Deicing agents and road salt storage
  • Septic system effluent
  • Naturally occurring salts from underground aquifers

2. Water Softener Issue

It can also be a water softener issue. Water softeners are highly efficient devices but they’re also complex and intricate. So, it’s not surprising that they don’t always function optimally.

Here’s what can happen:

  • Regeneration process failure: As part of the regeneration process, a brine solution flushes the water softener’s resin beads. This solution contains sodium chloride and if the process isn’t working properly, excess chloride ions can be released into the water. As a result, the water may take on a salty taste.
  • Saltwater intrusion: If your water softener is malfunctioning, saltwater might be able to infiltrate your water supply.
  • Mineral imbalances: Faulty softeners often fail to remove hardness minerals like magnesium and calcium. If so, it can lead to an imbalance, which results in higher levels of chloride in your drinking water.

3. A Spike in Sulfate Levels

Another primary cause of salty-tasting water is a high sulfate concentration. This can occur when sodium sulfate and magnesium sulfate get into groundwater through soils and rocks after a heavy downpour.

However, the main cause of high sulfate concentrations is shale waste. As the waste is exposed to the weather, sulfur-containing minerals are dissolved, and they leach into the surrounding water sources. Once these minerals are present in the groundwater in your area, they can easily find their way into your drinking water. If you’ve eliminated both of these causes, then the spike in sulfate levels in your water may be a result of industrial waste or fertilizer runoff.

How to Reduce the Salt in Your Water

Before you attempt to address the issue, you need to determine why your water tastes salty. If it’s being caused by pollution, it can be tricky to work out which type of pollution is responsible. In some ways, it doesn’t really matter, as the results are often the same.

As mentioned, salty-tasting water is usually caused by high levels of chloride ions or other contaminants. So, test your water using at-home test strips or a test that you return to a lab. Once you know which contaminant or contaminants are causing the saline taste, you can try some of the fixes we’ve laid out below.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse Osmosis

One way to address your salty water issue is to filter out the contaminants that cause it. However, chlorides and sulfides are hard to remove, which is why you need the reverse osmosis water filtration technique.

Reverse osmosis eliminates up to 99% of dissolved solids since it uses several filters and stages of filtration.

For instance, the semipermeable membrane has microscopic pores that only let water particles pass through. The system then flushes out large particles so they don’t end up in your drinking water.

When chlorides and sulfates combine with other elements, they form large salt particles, which lead to a nasty, salty taste in water. Therefore, a reverse osmosis filtration system that removes large particles could be the ideal solution.



This method entails evaporating water and then collecting and condensing the vapor. Water with a high salt concentration remains as residue, while freshwater is the distillate. Although it’s fairly slow, water distillation is a good way to remove salt from your water. Here’s how you do it:

  • Fill a large pot halfway with water.
  • Place a smaller pot inside the larger one so that it’s floating on the water. If it doesn’t float, use an oven rack to elevate it.
  • Fill a ceramic container or a clean glass with a small amount of cold water and place it inside the smaller pot.
  • Place the lid of the larger pot upside down on top of the large pot.
  • Now, turn on the stove and bring the water to a boil.
  • As the water boils, it should rise as steam, condense, and drip down into the small container.
  • Keep an eye on the water in the large pot to make sure the water level doesn’t get too low.
  • Once the small container is full, turn the stove off and wait for everything to cool down before collecting your distilled water.

The main issue with this solution is that it’s pretty time-consuming and can take a while to produce a large volume of distilled water. If you’re looking for something more convenient, you could consider investing in a countertop distiller system.

Examine the Water Softener Installation

Examine the Water Softener Installation

If you have a water softener and your tap water tastes salty, there may be issues with the system. In this case, inspect the softener installation and examine every part for malfunction. Follow these steps to conduct a thorough examination:

  • Check the pipes, brine tank, and connections closely for any leaks.
  • Inspect the brine tank and make sure it contains the right amount of solution (check the manufacturer’s instructions for the right level).
  • Inspect the drain line for clogs and blockages.
  • Read the system’s manual and ensure the regeneration cycle is programmed correctly.

What Else Could Be Causing a Salty Taste in My Mouth?

Of course, if your water tastes salty to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is an issue with the water itself. There are many reasons your water might taste salty when, in fact, the water is the same as it always has been.

But if there’s no change in the composition of the water, why has the taste changed? Let’s dive into it.

1. Dehydration

The saline taste in your mouth could be the result of low body fluids (dehydration). You might be dehydrated from exercising, vomiting, or simply not drinking enough water. If you are dehydrated, you might be experiencing symptoms like fatigue, thirst, confusion, and dizziness.

According to Mayo Clinic, dehydration can also lead to various health conditions, including:

  • Kidney issues
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Seizures
  • Urinary tract infections

If you think you’re dehydrated, ensure you drink plenty of fluids. In severe cases, you should seek medical attention.

2. Dry Mouth

The sudden salty sensation in your mouth could be due to a dry mouth. You may have a dry mouth due to things like medication side effects, aging, or tobacco use. If you have a dry mouth, you may experience:

  • A salty or odd taste in your mouth
  • A sore throat
  • Stringy saliva
  • Bad breath
  • A grooved tongue
  • Hoarseness
  • Stickiness in your mouth

Drink more water and avoid salty foods. In addition, chewing gum is a good way to stimulate saliva production.

3. Acid

High levels of acidity can also create a salty taste in your mouth. This is particularly common in people who suffer from acid reflux, a condition that causes acids from the stomach to flow into the esophagus.

Short-term treatments for acid reflux include antacids, but in the long term, lifestyle changes are often recommended.

4. Nutritional Deficiency

Your water may taste salty because you’re suffering from a nutritional deficiency. This can develop if your diet doesn’t include enough of a particular mineral or vitamin. It can also be a result of other factors like certain medications, digestive disorders, and bariatric surgery.

If you have any symptoms of nutritional deficiency, speak to a medical professional.

5. Oral Bleeding

Oral bleeding can produce a saline taste in your mouth too.

This could be the result of brushing your gums vigorously using a hard-bristled toothbrush or eating hard or chewy foods. Continuous oral bleeding can lead to gum diseases. So, if you’re experiencing oral bleeding, be sure to consult a dentist.

6. Post-nasal Drip

When you’re sick, mucus can accumulate in the back of your throat. It can mix with saliva and drop from the nose into the mouth, causing a saline taste. This is known as post-nasal drip, and it’s typically caused by allergies and sinus infections.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
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