Where To Discharge Water Softener Backwash?

The majority of the population in the United States uses water softeners to soften their water.

Most of the water softeners function on the ion exchange method, where minerals are replaced with sodium and potassium ions.

After a regular interval of time, or after a particular water flow, you regenerate your water softener.

This regeneration process is important, in this sodium and potassium are discharged from the system.

This discharge is what we should be more concerned about. This discharge contains a high quantity of potassium and sodium ions, and if you discharge it in the open soil, it is going to harm our eco-system.

So, it is important to handle the disposal of that backwash with ultimate care and cautiousness, or the whole world will be turned into Death Valley.

This is not like there are only dumping into the grounds or well methods for discharging water softener backwash.

There are many other methods too, and in this guide, we are going to take all of them into consideration, and to help you get that backwash disposed of rightly.

where to Discharge Water Softener Backwash

What is Backwash and what does it contain?

Backwash in a watery system is when the water flows backward, to remove the impurities and contaminations.

In a water softener, the backwash is when water flows upward through the resin tank, to flush all the minerals collected on the resin beads, these minerals could be iron, magnesium, and calcium.

You already know that during regular operations, water softener’s resin beads contain minerals. Sodium ions from the salt tank replace or charges the minerals or calcium ions.

In regeneration sodium-rich solution is flushed from the salt tank to the resin beads to flush the magnesium and calcium ions and replace them with the sodium ions so that the system could start producing softened water all over again.

So, what we have at this point is backwash, this backwash contains, sodium, a low concentration of magnesium, and calcium.    

So, what we do normally with this backwash is to run it into the ground. But any responsible citizen would not do that.

It is like disturbing our ecosystem, the plants near where you dump the backwash would be dead within a few years, that’s why many regulations recommend otherwise.

9 Tips To Discharge Your Water softener Backwash

For most of us using water softeners, attaching their water softener’s drain line to the sewage is the most efficient and easy way to discharge water softener.

For most of us, this is the easiest and most convenient way to get rid of the backwash.

If you live in a remote area, you might not have a direct sewage connection. For those having a direct sewage line, this is not the recommendation, you can and should not discharge backwash into your sewage system.

Local Regulations

You must read local regulations for dumping backwash. I would say, you should consider this even before buying a water softener.

You should check whether or not you can buy a particular water softener, and if not, you must not buy that.

A few states do not allow salt-based ion-exchange water systems for various reasons, this is just an example, you should read your local regulations.

Don’t worry if your local regulations do not allow you to dump the backwash on the grounds, there are still ways.

This restriction could be because the local government might be using groundwater for the public drinking water supply.

Discharging Backwash Outside

I am not saying that you should drain or discharge backwash outside, I am saying this can be an option if your local regulations do not stop you from doing it.

But draining or discharging onto the grounds is harmful, especially if the water source is near to the drain, and the local government face issue in treating that water.

Ensure that the drainage is far from the source so that no contaminations could happen. These are some best options to discharge the backwash outside.

Dry well

To prevent lots of sodium from mixing into the local groundwaters, you can use the dry well method.

This method consists of one deep hole that enables the backwash slowly seep into the ground. It is more like how our ground filters the rainwater and stores it into the groundwater pools.

Few things should be taken into consideration before making a well into the ground, such as the dry well sirs should be above the water table.

To make the dry well suitable for holding the bigger impurities of backwash and allowing it to slowly travel into the earth.

French Drain

The French drain is also a useful method to dump backwash. It is more like a dry well but here you get wider horizontally space rather deeper vertically.

To make a French drain, you need to place a pipe and make a ditch. The pipe should have holes to allow high salt-saturated backwash to seep out of the pipe into the grounds.

The longer the ditch, the wider the surface area would be to disperse water. Keep one thing in mind, avoid making a build-up of salt or backwash in one area, it still damages the ecosystem.

Even for the French drain system, you should read the local regulations, and check the recommended wider area horizontally they recommend.

Septic drain field

If the drain field is around, you can use the septic tank method to disperse salt gathered or collected in the backwash.

In the United States, you see septic drain field is a common practice, but in some states and many local regulations do not allow septic drain fields, but in most, you still can do this.

Clean out an old septic tank, insert holes in the bottom, and attach the drain line to this, to fill the tank with the backwash.

It will then disperse to a longer area, making it never gather at one place to disturb the ecosystem.

Backwash discharging for the basement

If you have a water system installed in your basement, as experts recommend basement is an ideal location along with the utility room for the installation of a water system. Then these could be the possible options for discharging backwash.

Discharge in the floor drain

If your water system unit has enough pressure to send out a backwash up in the drainpipe then use the floor drain to discharge the backwash.

But what if your water softener does not provide enough pressure to help you discharge up in the drain line?

You still can do it, but there would be additional equipment required to get this done. Such as the ejector pump, this pump is usually required to send water up for drainage or other purposes. The most amazing aspect of this pump is it uses vents. 

The vent prevents thick sewage materials from flowing back into the line. One more thing, if you have opted for a pump, don’t forget to buy one made of plastic or steel.

Because, here corrosion danger would be there, as brine water mostly consists of salt that can lead to corrosion.

Discharging backwash to subsurface

If you have no other option of discharging the brine water or backwash, then you can discharge it in the subsurface.

But for that too, there are a few things to take into consideration, the first would be to take the distance between the well and discharging point into mind.

You must not drain your backwash into the vicinity of the water well, at least 100-feet, consider your neighboring properties well too into mind.

The better would be for you to make a subsurface system to dump the brine water. Construct a system strong enough that it would not get damaged due to the elements.

If it gets damaged and leaked, it surely going to hurt the water well in the vicinity.

Discharging into the surface

Although I never recommend this method unless there is no other available.

If you are discharging it into the surface, keep in mind, there must not be any plant nearby that could potentially get damaged, no animal should access that brine, and no vegetation to get harmed.

If you are discharging the brine on the surface, the area you have chosen should be within your property.

You can direct the brine water through the pipe into the ground so that the brine soaks easily.

Here too, the discharge area should at least be 100-feet away from the neighboring brine.

Is water softener discharge bad for plants?

The excessive sodium ions in the backwash actually can disrupt the water balance in the plants.

It Kills plants and their functions by making them understand that they have taken the required water.

Plants then would not be taking more water, which leads to further damage. More sodium in the water makes plants die of thirst, and kill their performance of growth.

How Often should you drain your water softener?

It depends on more than one variant that takes part in draining. The one aspect is the tank’s capacity, water consumption, and hardness level.

If your tank capacity is low, you have to regenerate water more frequently, thus more backwash or flush the iron, magnesium, as well as sodium particles.

In the same way, if the hardness level is high, that too leads to more frequencies of draining water softeners.

In some cases, if the water softener is too old, it loses the frequency, its resin’s beads capacity, thus more regenerations will be done, and more frequent it would be to drain the softener.

What happens if the drain line gets blocked?

The Drainpipe usually is wide enough not to clog or get blocked. Mostly, backwash or fluids can easily drain and flow out of the system to help systems gets regenerated as many times as consumer requires.

But, let’s suppose if the drain line gets blocked, all the materials that have to be out of the system, would remain in the system.

In our case, as we flush all minerals, sodium particles out of the resin tank, now it will accumulate in the same tank. And if not taken care of, the drain pipes can explode, causing floods or leaking.


Water softener’s backwash discharging requires special attention, as it affects the surrounding ecosystem.

If you keep disposing of the backwash on the surface, near the well, the rich minerals and sodium will get mixed into the groundwater making the water more contaminated. I

t also affects vegetation, if you keep doing that, you will see those plants nearby are getting impacted, their growths have been stopped, and in some severe cases, it kills the plants and vegetations.

In this guide, we helped you learn how to dispose of or discharge backwash. Keep mentioned points in mind, and get things rolled smoothly.

Emily Davis

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