Living Without Water Softeners: Why We Don’t Recommend It
There are a number of reasons you might consider living without a water softener system in your home: concerns about a salty taste, a fear of killing houseplants and other spurious examples. What many homeowners don’t realize, however, is that not only are such concerns unfounded, but hard water can wreak serious havoc on your appliances, clothing, dishes, hair and—most critically—your plumbing. For that reason, we don’t recommend you take the chance of living without a water softener.
Before you decide to ditch the softener based on non-expert advice, consider how water softeners work and what they actually do for your water quality.
How Water Softener Systems Work
Regardless of whether your home has its own private well or receives a water supply from the city you live in, your water, in its most basic state, is filled with dissolved minerals—particularly calcium and magnesium. When un-softened or “hard” water evaporates, it leaves behind a mineral residue that can build up and become scaly over time, which is why it’s commonly called “hard water scale.”
A water softener prevents hard water scale from forming by initiating a process of ion exchange. Without delving too deeply into the chemistry of the process, a standard salt-based water softener contains negatively-charged resin beads that pull the positively-charged mineral ions out of the water. Then, the system flushes the beads with salt water, thereby replacing the hard mineral ions with softer ions like sodium or potassium (depending upon whether the salt used is sodium chloride or potassium chloride).
Even worse than these annoying initial warning signs, those same mineral deposits can build up on the inside of your pipes, potentially leading to serious clogs in the plumbing that can block water flow and cause leaks and ruptures. In addition to potential damage to your home and plumbing, these hard water mineral deposits cause the entire system to work harder to produce sufficient water flow. As a result, your monthly water bill can suddenly skyrocket. If one of your reasons for considering living without a water softener is the cost of the unit and its maintenance, keep in mind the possibility that not having one could mean higher bills in the long run.
Common Softener Myths Debunked
Myth #1: A water softener will make my water taste salty and add too much sodium to my diet.
Truth: The salt in properly-softened water is negligible to the taste buds and is not present in high enough amounts to represent a significant part of one’s daily sodium intake.
Myth #2: Water softeners cost too much and are a waste of energy.
Truth: Although a water softener does require electricity to run, it doesn’t use a huge amount of energy. According to average US energy usage rates, the average home water softener uses approximately 7 kWh per year, which adds up to less than $10 spent annually.
Myth #3: If calcium and magnesium are removed from my water, my body won’t receive the benefit of those healthy minerals.
Truth: The minerals that are present in hard water are inorganic, which means that the calcium and magnesium are not usable by the body. Only organic calcium and magnesium can be digested via food and supplements. Therefore, your body is not missing out on any minerals by softening your water.
Myth # 4: Softened water will leave an uncomfortable film on my body when I bathe.
Truth: While your skin will likely feel different after showering or bathing with softened water, the change is a result of allowing the natural oils of your hair and skin to remain. In fact, it’s hard water that actually keeps soaps and shampoos from lathering well and leaves a mineral film on your body.
Myth #5: Your garden and houseplants will die if you water them with softened water.
Truth: Although it’s possible that daily watering with softened water can lead to a build-up of sodium in the soil and eventually lead to negative effects on your plants in the long-run, they’re not going to die from a few exposures to softened water. For long-term watering, the majority of water softeners allow the homeowner to bypass the water softener manually and provide regular tap water on demand. If you’re concerned about your plants, simply switch the bypass valve before watering them and switch it back when you’re finished.
If you’ve read all of our debunked myths and a traditional salt-based water softener is still not to your taste, there are a variety of other alternatives you can have installed without going entirely softener-free, including water conditioners that use processes of capacitive deionization, electrically-induced precipitation and template-assisted crystallization.
Water Treatment and Installation Services From Water Event
If you need to add a water softener system to your home or replace an existing unit, Water Event not only carries a broad range of water treatment systems for purchase, but also offers convenient professional installation service. Plus, Water Event offers a number of other water treatment and filtration products to give you the highest quality of water possible, including reverse osmosis systems, bottle-less water coolers, chlorine removal systems and more.