Depending on where you live and where your water comes from, water supplies have varying degrees of hardness. Hard water contains large amounts of minerals, usually calcium or magnesium. Beyond how these minerals can affect the taste or odor of drinking water, hard water can also cause other problems in your home. The buildup of these minerals in your pipes and plumbing fixtures, in the form of limescale, can lead to plumbing issues and corrosion of your pipes. The buildup of soap scum in showers and tubs is also common in homes where hard water is present.
The Benefits of Soft Water
Without the minerals that make water hard, soft water makes it easier to wash your dishes and your skin. Clothes will appear brighter and fluffier without the added minerals from hard water, too. You might also notice you have softer skin and smoother hair when showering and washing with softened water. Appliances will last longer when they are not clogged with the minerals left behind by hard water.
How to Soften Water
If you have hard water issue in your home then you might be thinking, how to soften water? So, lets discuss best 3 methods for softening water. These are the best methods we ever recommend to our users.
Ion Exchange Systems
Probably the most commonly-used method for softening water in homes is through an ion exchange system. This method has been used longer than any other, thus it is more familiar to the average homeowner. These types of system work by exchanging calcium and magnesium ions in tap water for sodium ions. How does that exchange happen?
In most ion exchange systems, there is a mineral tank at the heart of the system. This tank contains resin or beads that contain sodium and carry a negative charge. When water passes over these beads, the magnesium and calcium ions, which are positively charged, are attracted to these beads or resin. When the calcium or magnesium clings to the beads, it displaces the positively charged sodium ions, releasing the sodium into the water.
Ion exchange is able to create whole-house access to softer water through a relatively simple system. This type of system will eliminate the problems associated with hard water throughout all parts of your home. Water softeners, however, do require regular upkeep and maintenance to keep your system working properly.
After the initial installation, which can be expensive, you must regularly add salt to the system to keep it functioning correctly. In addition, there is actual maintenance to the system that must be performed regularly, as well. Because this system adds salt to your water, this could potentially cause a problem for those sensitive to the effects of sodium, such as those with high blood pressure, kidney disease, or liver disease.
If you have significant hard water issues, you may consider an ion exchange system. While this system is not meant to purify water, it can mitigate the problems associated with hard water. Used in conjunction with a filter at the tap to improve the taste of drinking water, a water softener is a good option when your goal is to remove the minerals that are causing problems to all of the plumbing and pipes in your home.
The second popular method for softening hard water is the reverse osmosis method. In addition to removing minerals from water, reverse osmosis has the added benefit of purifying water of nearly all contaminants without adding anything to your water. Water purified through reverse osmosis is clean, tasteless, and free of contaminants.
Reverse osmosis systems work by using the water pressure in your home to force water through a series of filters and a semipermeable membrane, which work together to remove the impurities found in most tap water.
Reverse osmosis has the advantage of working without the use of chemicals or additives, as it simply removes the unwanted impurities from your water supply. Reverse osmosis systems are a great choice if your goal is to improve the quality of your drinking water. However, large systems designed to service a whole home can be expensive and require a large holding tank to store the water that has passed through the membrane.
Many use reverse osmosis to filter only those taps from which people drink. If your water supply contains a lot of minerals, these can easily clog the membrane of a reverse osmosis system so you may need to invest in better pre-filters or a conditioning system to treat water before it goes through the reverse osmosis process. Once installed, though, the reverse osmosis system is easy to maintain with regular care and maintenance.
Distillation is another method that can be used, in limited quantity, to soften as well as purify water. Distillation works when water is heated until it starts to vaporize.
While in a gaseous state, the vapor is directed into a second container, where it cools and returns to liquid form. The minerals and other contaminants present are left behind in the first container and all that remains in the second is clean, purified, softened water.
Distillation is a relatively inexpensive process for purifying water, but it has its disadvantages. Unlike the other methods described, it can only be used to produce a small amount of water. Distilled water has a flat taste, and it may be necessary to re-oxygenate it to improve its drinkability.
Which Is Best for You?