Water Softeners: What Do They Add to Your Water?
Stained sinks and itchy skin are some of the most frequent complications caused by hard water. Therefore, if you notice any of these signs, it is time to get a water softener. In fact, the earlier you get a water softener, the better.
Essentially, a water softener is the system used to eliminate minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and other metal cations from hard water. Without these minerals, the water becomes softer and easy to use for cleaning at home, institutions, and factories. Softeners are also used for treating drinking water. But there have been many claims that these softeners put salt in the water. It is a topic that continues to generate numerous discourses, with different researchers coming up with contradicting discoveries.
In his book Water – The Ultimate Cure, which was published in 2001, author Steve Meyerowitz argues that water softeners do not clean the water, but rather alter its behavior. He further claims that conventional softeners add salt to water during the ion exchange process, which involves the reduction of high levels of calcium and magnesium in water. He therefore concludes that water softeners do increase sodium levels in the water.
The most common water softeners use the ion-exchange procedure to get rid of ions in hard water, thus exchanging them with a tiny amount of sodium. So, the next obvious question is: How much sodium does a water softener add to the water? Fundamentally, the amount of sodium left in your water by a water softener depends on the hardness of the water. For instance, if your water has 18 Grains Per Gallon (GPG) hardness, a water softener will add at least 35 milligrams of sodium to every 8 oz. glass of water.
This means that you will have to drink more than 65 glasses of water a day for you to exceed the recommended limit of 2300 mg of salt per day. Sodium is a regular component of the human body, and sufficient amounts of sodium are necessary for good health. But it is important to seek a professional opinion on the amount of sodium your water should have and the type of water softening system you are supposed to install in your home or business.
What Are the Benefits of Ion Exchange Water Softeners?
Hard water consumes a lot of soap and shampoo during cleaning as it is very difficult for the soap to bond with calcium ions. With less soap curd, therefore, cleaning becomes easier and the overall housework is reduced. Softened water leaves silverware, mirrors, cars, glassware and plumbing fixtures looking clean and shinier. And if it is used for bathing, it leaves the skin and the hair looking softer, cleaner and smoother.
Additionally, water softeners help with the preservation of all appliances that come into contact with the water, including washing machines, utensils, water heaters, clothes, pipes among others. This also helps in cutting down the cost of maintaining and replacing damaged appliances as well as reducing the monthly energy expenses. When doing laundry with hard water, minerals get trapped in the fabric, which eventually destroys them. That’s why reducing these harmful ions is extremely vital. Furthermore, white fabrics remain white without the grimy grey caused by hard water.
The good thing is that there are other water-softening systems you can use for your drinking water, especially if you are on a sodium-restricted diet. They include salt-free softeners, reverse osmosis softeners and magnetic softeners.
What are Salt-free Water Softeners?
The salt-free softener utilizes a filter to clean the water and doesn’t require chemicals to remove ions in hard water. Therefore, minerals such as sodium and potassium are not added to the water. However, this softener cannot be used to treat very hard water.
How do Magnetic Water Softeners work?
These ones rely on the magnetic force generated by magnets in and around the pipes to soften the hard water. The only problem with this water softening system is that the softened water becomes hard again within 48 hours after it exits the magnetic pipes.
What are Reverse Osmosis Water Softeners?
Through a semi-penetrable membrane, this system uses pressure to get rid of impurities from water. However, a lot of water is wasted in the process. Two gallons of water go out as waste for every one gallon of clean water produced.
Clearly, all true ion exchange water softeners do add salt to the water albeit in minuscule amounts. It is also obvious that these softeners are the best for cleaning large amounts of water, especially the one used for laundry and other cleaning purposes. Luckily, there are other salt-free options for treating drinking water. But regardless of the water softening system you decide to install, a professional opinion is necessary.