If you’ve noticed cloudy white residue on your dishes, shower scum, dry skin, or stiff laundry, you probably have hard water in your home. We call water “hard” when it contains a high level of minerals like calcium or magnesium. Installing a water softener puts an end to these nuisances and prevents the long-term damage on your plumbing system and household appliances, saving you expensive repairs, by filtering hardening minerals from your tap water.
But wait – minerals like calcium and magnesium are good for me, right?
Absolutely. These minerals are essential to combat osteoporosis and other degrading medical conditions, but your body doesn’t digest them as they appear in tap water. Water most commonly contains calcium, magnesium, and sodium – but not in the dose your body needs daily and not in a form that your body readily absorbs.
So how do I get the minerals I need?
Think food, not water! The most efficient sources for the correct daily intake of the minerals we need are fruits, veggies, meat, and dairy products. A balanced diet is the best way to ensure that you get the proper intake of calcium, magnesium, iron, and so on. If you’re concerned that you and your family are mineral-deficient, you can also supplement your healthy meal plan with multivitamins to get the nutrients you need.
Do water softeners remove all of the minerals from my home water?
No, water softeners only target specific minerals that cause those pesky, costly problems in your home.
Here’s the two-step breakdown of how softening systems work:
- Ion exchange: Water that has traveled through the ground, where it accumulated hardening magnesium and calcium ions, arrives in your home and passes through the softener’s resin tank. Inside the resin tank, the water circulates among sodium-covered resin beads that act as a scrubbing device, exchanging the sodium ions for magnesium and calcium in the water. Soft water leaves the tank for your faucets.
- Regeneration: When magnesium and calcium cover the beads, a salt solution is pumped through the resin tank. This brine treats the sodium beads by stripping away the negative hardening materials. The regenerated beads start softening water once again and the system flushes the salty solution containing the hardening minerals out of your home.
As you can see, the softening process doesn’t affect other, potentially beneficial minerals in your water such as fluoride, which strengthens your teeth.
Depending on your home water situation, you should also consider combining your water softener with a filtration system, which eliminates the chlorine and impurities that give water a foul odor and an unpleasant taste.
Bottom line: Water softeners target the minerals you don’t want in your tap water! They not only eliminate the household annoyances such as crust or scum in tubs or sinks, but are also an energy-efficient way to maintain your water-using appliances. The softening system flushes out hardening minerals that damage your home without depriving you of necessary minerals.
Use this checklist to find out what water softening system is most suitable for your home.