Water is one of the most essential substances for human, animal, and plant life. Without water, our body can’t perform its bodily functions. As a result, it’s impossible for any human being to survive.
Today, there’s a lot of discussion on what’s the best hard/soft classification for drinking, cooking, bathing, and cleaning water. Hard water is known to provide the dietary needs of essential minerals like calcium and magnesium.
Soft water, on the other hand, helps soften your skin and smoothen your hair. If you fancy soft water, knowing the pros and cons of a water softener will give you an idea of whether or not softened water is best for your health.
How A Water Softening System Works
A water softener is one of the best solutions for softening a hard drinking water supply through ion exchange. Unlike other solutions, ion exchange does not involve the use of chemicals in water treatment.
Since the goal of water softeners is to change the mineral content balance in the drinking water, the water treatment device uses small polystyrene resin beads with negative charges to remove the minerals as they pass through the mineral resin tank.
An ion exchange water softener also has a separate brine tank. The brine tank is a mineral tank where a concentrated brine solution of potassium chloride is made and used to flush calcium and other magnesium ions off the resin beads.
An automatic regeneration system is present in the most reliable water softeners today. The system is flushed and recharged on a regular schedule.
Regeneration is essential in maintaining the water softening system and water by flushing minerals from the resin when it is spent and can no longer produce soft water. Refreshing the mineral water tank and water softener system by backwashing it with a salt solution will allow it to become operational once again.
What Is Hard Water?
Hard water is water with minerals above the normal levels found in many water systems. This type of water usually contains a high level of minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
Minerals dissolve in dishwashing water, leaving visible reddish-brown stains on cookware. They increase the degree of hardness of tap water in the entire system and give it a chalky look and taste. Hard water stains appliances and washing machines and can affect the other plumbing system hard water is in your home. All this trouble adds up to more costs for you.
Are There Health Risks Associated With Hard Water?
Drinking hard water is generally considered safe for healthy individuals, but it can cause some health problems for people with specific health ailments and conditions.
Some potential health risks associated with hard water include kidney stones, skin irritation, digestive issues, and an increase in heart disease. Drinking hard water with a high level of calcium and magnesium can increase the risk of kidney stones.
Kidney stones are hard deposits made up of minerals and salts that form in the kidneys or urinary tract.
There are several different types of kidney stones, but the most common type is made up of magnesium and calcium charges and oxalate. When there is an excess of calcium and magnesium in the urine, it can combine with other substances like oxalate to form crystals. Over time, these crystals can grow and become kidney stones.
Consuming water with a high level of calcium and magnesium can increase the concentration of these minerals in the urine, making it more likely that kidney stones will form. This is especially true for people who are already prone to kidney stones or who have a family history of the condition.
Such minerals can also cause skin irritation and dryness, especially in people with sensitive skin or skin conditions like eczema. This type of water can disrupt the natural balance of oils and bacteria on the skin’s surface. It can lead to an overgrowth of certain types of bacteria and fungi, which can cause inflammation and irritation.
Digestive issues like constipation and an upset stomach are also common in some individuals who drink hard water regularly. You may need to meet dietary mineral requirements in another way.
Calcium and magnesium can have a laxative effect on the body when consumed in large amounts. This can cause constipation, which is characterized by infrequent bowel movements and difficulty passing stool.
On the other hand, consuming high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium can also cause an upset stomach or diarrhea in some individuals. That’s because these minerals can stimulate the production of stomach acid, leading to digestive discomfort and an upset stomach.
Increased risk of heart disease: Some studies have suggested that there may be a link between drinking hard water and an increased risk of heart disease, although more research is needed to confirm this.
Overall, the health risks associated with hard water are relatively minor, and most healthy individuals can safely drink and use hard water.
However, if you have concerns about the quality of your water, you may want to consider installing a water-softening system or using a water filter to remove minerals and other impurities.
How To Tell If You Need A Water Softener
Dry skin, spotty dishes leaving visible stains, and laundry problems are just a few telltale signs that will help you know if your water is hard. Hard water stains appliances.
Mineral scale and soap scum are also some of the symptoms of hard water.
You can also use test kits to determine the hardness of your water. The way to measure hardness is in grams per gallon (GPG) or milligrams per liter (mg/l).
Advantages of Water Softeners
Water softening eliminates mineral scale. The result is a stop to endless appliance repair bills. Other water softener benefits include softer skin and smoother hair, reduced energy requirements, increased efficacy in soaps and detergents, and increased lifespan for the entire plumbing system.
Let’s take a deeper look at each of these factors.
Softer Skin and Smoother Hair
Since water with its hardness minerals too many harness minerals causes dry hair and skin, water-softening systems will help in the hair properly achieving softer skin and clean, smooth hair.
Reduced Energy Requirement When Heating Water
A water softener makes hot water heaters much easier to heat since there are no deposits in the water that prevents heat transfer.
Soaps and Detergents are Effective in Softened Water
Without calcium and magnesium, soaps and detergents are more effective in doing what they do best – cleaning. With water softening, you’ll have cleaner and shinier glassware, tiles, cars, mirrors, and silverware since soft water eliminates the build-up of scale and stains.
Additionally, you’ll save money by reducing the number of soaps and detergents used because of the rich lather produced in soft water.
Increased Lifespan for Entire Plumbing System
Without high mineral content and heavy metals, there’s no need for frequent plumbing repairs and replacements since there are no scales in the pipes and appliances.
Water heaters are vulnerable to scale buildup. This also impacts laundry and general cleaning. With a serious water heater and softener, you can prevent the buildup and prolong the life of your appliances.
Disadvantages of Having Soft Water
We’ve discussed many benefits of a water softener system. Now let’s take a look at the cons of water softeners.
Lacks Essential Minerals in the Water
Aside from the strange flavor, it is healthy to drink hard water regularly. Expensive systems trade calcium for sodium ions in your water supply.
Therefore, using a water softener will deprive you of added levels of the essential calcium and magnesium minerals your body needs. Over the long term, this can impact your body’s fluid balance.
Potential Health Risks for People on Low Sodium Diets
Soft water eliminates minerals by adding sodium ions. Aside from the removed calcium and magnesium in the water, people on a low-sodium diet or those using dietary supplements should not use a water softener due to the added sodium in the exchange.
The release of sodium ions and brine solution is also detrimental to our environment.
One of the major cons of water softeners is higher maintenance costs. Installing a water softener will require maintenance since salt is added to every exchange in the form of resin beads.
Potassium pellets and salt pellets change the the magnesium ions and calcium charges in the water. Therefore you need to regularly remove the sodium ions and magnesium charges and the corrosive salt brine from the system. Of course, potassium chloride pellets and salt costs money and must be
Are Water Softeners Worth The Cost?
A water softener is a good solution if your water hardness is very high. Unfortunately, it has its downsides that you also need to consider before deciding if softened water is best for you.
A water softener can be beneficial in several ways. Soft water has fewer minerals like calcium and magnesium in the water, which can help to prevent scale buildup in pipes and appliances, reduce the risk of stains on clothing and fixtures, and make cleaning easier.
This adds to big savings over time. Without a softener, your appliances will deteriorate faster and your pipes will need to be replaced sooner.
Finally, some people find that soft water feels better on their skin and hair, as it doesn’t leave behind mineral deposits that can clog pores and dry out the skin.
Are There Alternatives To Water Softeners?
Removing dissolved metals using water softening is just one way to treat water with high mineral content. There are alternatives to water softeners that present their own benefits. Let’s discuss some of the most popular options on the market today.
Water conditioners are typically used to address the effects of hard water, such as mineral buildup on pipes and fixtures. They work by altering the chemical structure of the minerals in the water, making them less likely to adhere to surfaces.
Water conditioners do not actually remove the minerals from the water, so the water may still feel hard to the touch.
They work by altering the chemical structure of the minerals in the water, making them less likely to adhere to surfaces. Water conditioners do not actually remove the minerals from the water, so the water may still feel hard to the touch.
Water descalers can help reduce scale buildup on pipes and fixtures, but they do not actually remove minerals that cause water hardness. Water softeners provide a more comprehensive solution by removing these minerals and resulting in softer water. Which system is best for you will depend on your specific water quality issues and preferences.
Reverse Osmosis System
Reverse osmosis systems use filters or membranes to remove impurities mineral ions, including calcium and magnesium charges, from the water.
The result is water that is free of dissolved solids, calcium and magnesium ions,, calcium and magnesium charges and ions, and other minerals, which makes it softer and less likely to cause scale buildup on pipes and fixtures.
Template Assisted Crystallization
Template Assisted Crystallization uses small, pre-formed crystals as a template to encourage the minerals in the water to form larger, more stable crystals that will not adhere to surfaces.
This process effectively reduces the amount of scale buildup on pipes and fixtures, but it does not remove calcium carbonate the minerals from the water in the way a water softener does.
Water Softeners: A Great Investment
After the initial up-front investment, a water softener is cheap to run and incredibly reliable. Your water softener typically requires minimal maintenance as well so you can “set it and forget it.”
These systems are a great investment for many homes.