Have you ever wondered what the term “hard water” means? Water hardness is the amount of dissolved magnesium and calcium your water contains and is one of USA’s main water problems. Hard water is high in these specific dissolved minerals. It causes scale and scum build-up on your showerheads and appliances, decreasing water pressure. Scales drastically shorten the lifespan of devices such as coffee machines, dishwashers and washing machines.
Water systems that use groundwater as their primary source are most susceptible to water hardness because when the water moves through different soils and rocks it dissolves small amounts of natural minerals and carries them into the groundwater supply.
Hard water is safe to drink as it does not present serious health risks, but the minerals in it prevent your hair from properly moisturizing which can cause hair loss.
What Is a Water Softener and How Does It Work?
A water softener is used to remove hard water minerals, which may otherwise cause scale deposits in a home’s plumbing system and damage appliances. It is a whole-house system for softening that removes calcium and magnesium most commonly through a process called ion exchange.
If you ask yourself how this ‘gadget’ works, the answer is not so simple.
There are two types of water softeners:
Salt water softener and saltless water softener systems.
In the following paragraphs, we will take a more detailed look at both water softeners types and their pros and cons, so you will be able to pick up the best water softener for your household.
How do Salt Based Water Softeners Work?
Traditional salt based water softeners remove the two aforementioned minerals from water – calcium and magnesium – applying ion exchange. For this, water softeners contain a resin bed which, as it gets in contact with the water, substitutes the hard minerals with sodium particles.
Once the resin bed is full of hardness, the regeneration begins. Series of backwashes purge the trapped minerals and flush them out of the system. The sodium is then replenished as well and the system continues to soften.
What are the pros?
- Using a salt based water softener will completely remove minerals, which make water hard, mainly calcium and magnesium.
- A salt based water system will definitely reduce the excess amount of limescale build-up that appears in your sinks, on your faucets, in your bathtubs, and so on.
- Water softeners provide for more cost-efficient and longer-lasting home appliances as well as fewer repairs and plumbing maintenance.
- The water feels soft and will not damage your skin and hair.
What are the cons?
- A salt based system can be highly expensive.
- They require more maintenance such as cleaning out the resin bed and replenish the salt.
- A water softener can waste up to 120 gallons of water for every 1000 gallons delivered, which can increase your water bill at the end of the month.
- In can result in too much sodium in your diet, because of the extra salt.
How Do Salt Free Water Softeners Work?
Salt free water softeners do not remove hard water minerals from the water. Rather, they transform the magnesium and calcium through different chemical processes so that they do not cling to surfaces and precipitate into scale.
Because the hard minerals from the water are not captured by a salt free water softener system, there is no need for salt or a regeneration cycle to sweep them out.
What are the pros?
- There is much less maintenance required, compared to salt based water softeners.
- You won’t waste excessive water as with the salt based method.
- You will use less electricity and could save a dollar on your utility bill.
- A saltless water softening system is easy to install, and you can do it yourself.
- They last extremely long (somewhere between 5 and 10 years).
- The system itself is a lot cheaper than its salt based alternative, which is ideal for small budgets.
What are the cons?
- The minerals causing hardness are not removed but altered.
- You will not feel this soft, silky feel, which salt based softeners provide.
What Is the Right Water Softener System for You?
Adding a water softener to your home will completely improve your life, there is no second opinion on the issue. Now it is time to decide which one will be best for you.
Based on all the pros and cons the decision is all up to you.
- The main advantage that saltless water softener systems, also called water conditioners, have is that they can remove already existing limescale deposits.
- If your main goal is to soften your water and remove hard minerals from it, then a salt based water softener is most likely the right type for you.
- What people usually do not understand is that salt based systems are very expensive to maintain. The system that softens your water needs to regenerate regularly which requires salt.
- With salt free water softeners you save a lot of money while you put less effort into the whole installation and maintenance process. Saltless water softener systems are the most affordable, accessible and easy to install solutions.
Hard water is a very common issue in the United States. People on municipal water supplies and well owners are affected likewise. But there is a simple solution: Water softeners, which can be salt based and salt free. Each type comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. You should weigh every single one carefully, while not allowing the decision making process to hold you back.
Do not let hard water ruin your hair, skin or appliances. Act now!