Water is life. It’s really that simple. Our bodies are about two-thirds water, and water is needed to carry on all out essential functions. Even though most people are aware of these facts, a surprisingly large number go through life chronically dehydrated. Many people might just forget to drink enough water, but just as often, the problem can be the taste. Water softeners can treat water to reduce a number of problems including taste, making it easier to get your daily requirement.
What is hard water?
Water softeners treat hard water by removing the minerals responsible for a number of problems. Hard water has a high concentration of minerals, usually calcium and magnesium. Hardness is measured in terms of grains per gallon, on a scale of 1 to 10. As many as 85% of American homes have hard water.
It’s not actually harmful to health, but does create a number of problems. These can range from dry skin to spotted glassware to high heating bills. That’s because the salts deposit on the inside of water heaters, making them less effective. Coffee makers and other appliances that use water, like electric kettles and slow cookers, also acquire a deposit of calcium and other minerals, reducing their useful life.
Treating hard water
Residential water systems treat water for hardness and other problems like smelly water due to a high concentration of iron, which can also give it a reddish color. As many as 40% of American homes have a residential water system installed, according to the Water Quality Association.
The average daily water consumption for a typical household is 350 gallons. Instead of using bottled water, which can be expensive, home water filtration systems and water softeners can make tap water drinkable and softer.
What do water softeners do?
Hard water minerals are removed using a process known as ion exchange. Ion exchange can remove minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese which are responsible for the hardness of water. The ion exchange uses resin beads containing sodium. When water flows through the beads, the sodium is exchanged for the hard water minerals. The hard water minerals are trapped by the softener, and only a small amount of sodium passes into the water.
Water softeners need minimal care and maintenance. Salts should be replaced when they run out, but other than that, no other effort is needed to keep a continuous supply of soft water for the whole house.
Getting rid of hardness in water reduces the amount of soap scum deposited on plumbing fixtures like taps, sinks and tubs, and makes water-using appliances, from coffee makers to water heaters more effective. Water softeners also improve the quality of the laundry, leaving clothes brighter and softer. And by removing the mineral taste from water, they make it easier to drink and to stay hydrated.