Does a water softener remove nitrates from water? Explanation

Does a water softener remove nitrates from drinking water

Does your decision to choose the water softener to remove nitrates is right? And if you are stuck between the hard water and nitrate water problem, would it be helpful? If I’m not wrong, you are searching it means there is something not fair with your water.

Okay, When it comes to water pollutants, nitrates are one of the most prevalent that well owners must deal with when removing them from their water supply. Nitrates are organic molecules having no taste or odor. Consuming high doses of nitrates may cause sickness in people and cattle. What! If they are dangerous, then what will be the solution?

Don’t be worry; by reading this blog, you’ll get free of nitrate water and will be able to know; How anion-exchange water softeners remove nitrate from well water. Let’s go through the article for deep knowledge about that.

What is Nitrate in Drinking Water?

Nitrate is an inorganic chemical found in several environments, both naturally and artificially, and is a byproduct of bacterial metabolism. According to the EPA, it’s one of the most frequent groundwater pollutants in rural regions.

The EPA has recommended the safe nitrate levels or maximum contamination limit for nitrates water testing service is 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L), or parts per million. 


  • Nitrates are often found due to the erosion of natural deposits in the ground. However, the Environmental Protection Agency has suggested that fertilizer and manure in agriculture are becoming the most significant cause of increased nitrate drinking water.
  • Nitrates may be transported into rivers and streams by rain or irrigation water or transported down through the soil and into aquifers.
  • There is a link between nitrate and nitrite levels in the environment. the three most significant contributors of  nitrate drinking water are “runoff from fertilizer use; sewage leakage from septic tanks and natural deposits; and eroding of natural deposits.
  • Nitrates are transformed into nitrites once they enter the body of an animal or a person by drinking water or eating food containing nitrates.
Title: Nitrates in Water
Source: Culligan Nation

Dangers of Nitrate & Nitrite on Human health

Side effects of nitrates in water are devastating. Nitrates in water side effects are as follow.

  • High nitrate level water causes blue baby syndrome. Infants’ stomach acid is weaker than older kids and adults.’ It increases nitrate-to-nitrite converting bacteria (NO2). 
  • Methemoglobinemia may occur in pregnant women, individuals with low stomach acid, and persons lacking an enzyme that converts it to normal hemoglobin.
  • Another symptom of Drinking nitrate water is a headache or dizziness.
  • N-nitrosamine chemicals have been linked to cancer in rats. High nitrate or nitrite levels have not been linked to increased cancer risk.

How to remove nitrates from the well water?

Removing nitrate is very important as it can cause various serious diseases. The nitrates are removed easily using reverse osmosis, anion-exchange, and distillation processes and cannot be reduced by cation-exchange water softeners. 

Anion exchange Water Softener

The elimination of nitrate via ion exchange is based on the same concept. Instead of sodium ions, chloride ions are used in these water filtering systems. During the passage of polluted water through the tank or cartridge, the resin beads will gather the nitrate ions and displace them with the innocuous chloride ions, which you will then release back into the water.

Because both chloride and nitrate have a negative charge, this process is called anion exchange (making them anions rather than positively charged cations). You may use anion exchange devices to treat ions at either the entrance site or the point of usage. They can lower the sulfate, nitrate, and arsenic concentrations present in water.

What is the mechanism of anion exchange?

Ion exchange is replacing (or exchanging) undesirable minerals in water with less disagreeable minerals. Depending on the application, the interaction occurs in a fiberglass tank or a steel tank with a plastic liner filled with resin or a synthetic zeolite. Ions such as chloride and hydroxide are the most often encountered compounds on resin beads. The resin in the device adsorbs anions such as sulfates, nitrates, arsenic, and bicarbonates from the water as it flows through it, releasing chloride back into the water.

Does a water softener remove nitrates? 

One of the most successful methods to remove nitrates from water is to send it through an anion-exchange process. Water softeners use a brine solution to replenish resin beads with sodium ions, then soften the water. When hard water passes through the resin bed, the calcium and magnesium ions exchange for sodium ions, softening the water as it leaves the storage tank.

Even while ion exchange is most typically seen in conventional water softeners, you may utilize the technology to remove impurities other than water hardness minerals, making it a versatile tool.

The rated gallon capacity of these ion exchange nitrate filters will allow them to last for many years. To fully use all of the chloride ions in the water, they will need to be regenerated, or the cartridge will need to be changed after just a limited amount of water has been processed. It is important to note that you will delete the more significant the proportion of nitrates in your water, the faster the media.

In the same way that a water softener is put at entry into the residence, nitrate-selective ion exchange devices may be installed as regenerative tanks filled with resin. They are also available in cartridge form, which you may use to treat the whole house’s water supply or just the water running to sinks and refrigerators, depending on the use.

Finally, ion exchange is a costly and time-consuming process that needs regular maintenance. Because the backwash brine will have a high concentration of nitrates, you must use caution in its disposal.


Nitrate removal from drinking water may be accomplished using two different methods: reverse osmosis (RO) or anion-exchange water softeners. One of the most common point-of-use applications is reverse osmosis, which has been shown to effectively remove 83-92 percent of nitrates from the water, keeping levels well under permissible limits. Ion exchange technology is another option for dealing with nitrate problems. For more information and queries, we are always here to serve. 

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