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Facts That You Need to Know About Softened Water 

Written by:
George Simms
Plumber & Contractor

Softened water is the result of a water softening process that removes magnesium, calcium, and other metal ions contained in hard water. 

Softened water contains few calcium ions, making soap lathering easy. Soft water requires less soap for the same tasks. It can also extend household plumbing life because it reduces scale build-up in pipes and pipe fittings.

"Water softeners are common additions to households to combat the harshness of hard water. Here are some facts you need to know about softened water. "

Softened Water Can Increase the Efficiency of a Home

Using soft water in your home can improve its efficiency in several ways. It reduces the presence of limescale build-up in piping and plumbing features. Even a minimal amount of scale build-up can reduce heating efficiency, increasing utility bills. 

Softened water is also much easier on household appliances, such as coffee pots, washing machines, and dishwashers. It allows these devices to operate more efficiently and also increases their lifespan. This reduces your utility bills and the number of replacements you have to buy

Over time, hard water leaves stains and spots on substances that it comes in contact with. Baths, sinks, showers, and bathrooms can become unsightly from years of exposure to hard water. Softened water can make the cleaning process much easier and keep these areas in better condition.

Since softened water lathers quicker and easier than hard water, you don’t need to use as many toiletries in the shower or cleaning products around your home. Smaller amounts of soap, shampoo, hair conditioner, and cleaning products can go much further when using softened water. 

Softened Water Gives You Brighter and Softer Clothes

If your home has hard water, you are washing your clothes in minerals that leave deposits. These minerals can cause stains and the colors to fade.

Softened Water Can Help Skin 

Softened water isn’t a cure for dermatological issues, nor does it effectively prevent chronic skin conditions. However, it can help those with sensitive skin to experience less irritation and improve certain problems. Hard water is particularly tough on eczema patients and often triggers outbreaks

Soft water is much easier to bathe with than hard water. When those accustomed to using hard water to wash switch to softened water, they often describe their skin as silky smooth. This is because, during the softening process, minerals like calcium and magnesium are replaced with sodium.

Softened Water Can Improve Hair

It’s common for those who wash their hair in hard water to report their hair feels dry. If your hair reacts in this way to hard water, it’s normal to think that you must wash it more often. However, washing with shampoo too frequently reduces the moisture your hair retains.

"Soft water lacks these minerals, allowing your scalp to rinse clean. As a result, your scalp releases natural oils, giving your hair a shinier appearance. "

In contrast, soft water perforates hair follicles more comprehensively, helping your hair look and feel softer and shinier. Hairdressers generally prefer soft water due to the lack of heavy minerals that can make hair harder to manage. 

The high mineral content in hard water can cause salts and limescale to form and settle on the scalp causing dandruff.  

Softened Water May Be Healthier to Drink 

Softened water is filtered to remove and reduce concentrations of minerals. While this can benefit your skin and hair, consuming minerals such as calcium and magnesium is vital for your health and wellbeing. As long as your diet includes calcium and magnesium sources, there are very few risks to drinking softened water. 

Many water softeners use sodium chloride during the softening process, increasing the drinking water’s sodium content. This might be a concern for someone with high blood pressure or susceptible to rising blood pressure from salt in their diet. If this is the case, you can opt for a salt-free water softening system to safely remove hard water minerals without using sodium.

If you want to use softened water for cleaning and bathing but not for cooking, installing a non-softened drinking faucet is possible. In this case, you can choose an under-sink reverse osmosis water filter. This is a water purification device that removes salt and other potentially harmful particles from your softened water. It filters water through a semipermeable membrane that rids it of the unwanted sodium.

Another option is to use a potassium chloride water softener. These water softeners don’t use sodium, but they are more expensive to run than their counterparts because they must use higher amounts to soften water effectively. However, they are environmentally friendly, as plants absorb potassium chloride after disposal.

Whole-House Softener vs. Hot Water-Only 

While whole-house water softeners are ideal for large households, who need access to softened water in all bathrooms and faucets. These systems are an excellent investment in your home and can even add to your house’s resale value.  

For those who only need a water softener for showers, cleaning, and appliances, hot water-only softeners are a less-expensive solution. Hot water-only softeners attach to your hot water heater, leaving cold hard water available for drinking and cooking.

Considerations When You Install a Water Softener 

Apart from the health concerns, there are some other minor considerations when installing a water softener:
  1. 1
    Ensure the softener is installed and maintained as outlined in the owner’s manual. This helps keep the water quality stable and prevents corrosion.
  2. 2
    If your water source is a community system, check that it isn’t already softened. It shouldn’t need additional softening in this case. 
  3. 3
    -Set the softener to the hardness of your water supply. Otherwise, it will cost more to run and waste water. 
  4. 4
    If you have new copper plumbing in your home, don’t run the softener for the first 3 to 4 weeks after moving in. This helps the copper to develop a protective mineral layer, lowering the chances of copper consumption.

Do You Need a Water Softener?

A water softener can be a lifesaver for individuals plagued by the effects of hard water. If you want better-tasting water, smoother skin, and more manageable hair, a water softener might benefit you.  

About the Author

George Simms is a Salt Lake City based plumber and contractor, with a focus on aiding homes and businesses (particularly farm) solve problems with hard and contaminated water. Walter is here to share his wealth of job experience and a knowledge of both modern and antique plumbing.

Last Updated on December 9, 2021