The Hard Facts on Soft Water
to the U.S. Geological Survey, more than 85 percent of the United
States geography has hard water. While many consumers use a water
softener so they can enjoy the benefits of soft water, there is some
confusion about whether softened water is safe to drink.
Some consumers are concerned that drinking
softened water will increase the level of sodium in their diet.
Despite the myth, softening your water will not result in
salty-tasting water. Sodium bicarbonate, which is different from
sodium chloride (table salt), is formed through the water softening
The amount of sodium added to water from the
water softening process depends on the hardness of the water supply.
When very hard water (greater than 10 grains of hardness per gallon)
is softened, only 20 to 40 mg of sodium is added to every 8 ounces
of water. For comparison, an 8-ounce glass of low-fat milk contains
about 120 mg of sodium, a 12-ounce can of diet soda contains from 20
to 70 mg, and an 8-ounce glass of orange juice contains about 25 mg.
The majority of the sodium in consumers’ diets --
more than 90 percent -- comes from sources such as processed foods
and table salt. The recommended daily allowance for sodium
consumption is 2,400 mg. Drinking two quarts of softened water would
only add approximately 240 mg of sodium to your diet. Individuals
concerned about sodium in their diet should consult their physician
about effective means of reducing overall sodium consumption.
*An Easy Solution to Hard Water Problems
Hard water forms when naturally occurring
minerals enter water sources. Over time these minerals are absorbed
by groundwater. The two most common types of minerals found in hard
water are calcium and magnesium compounds. These minerals’ presence
can make cleaning more difficult and can reduce the lifespan of
Luckily, there’s a simple, safe solution to hard
water. Installing a water softener is quick, easy and greatly
reduces the natural hard minerals found in water, making it easier
to get clothes clean, leaving skin less dry and irritated, and
making showering more pleasant.
During the water softening process, water
softening salt charges thousands of tiny resin beads inside the
water softener with sodium ions. As hard water moves over the resin
beads, the calcium and magnesium minerals are attracted to the beads
and replaced with sodium ions, creating soft water. Over time, the
resin beads will become full of minerals and need to be recharged.
This process is known as the water softener’s regeneration cycle.
The frequency of regeneration varies depending on the water usage of
each home and the source water’s hardness.
*Soft water can save you hard cash
The term “hard water” was originally coined to
refer to water that was difficult or hard to work with. Hard water
requires much more soap, shampoo or detergent than soft water, so
your soap products don’t stretch nearly as far. The effects of hard
water are felt most often in daily household activities such as
cleaning. The minerals present in hard water inhibit soap’s
lathering and cleaning capabilities.
According to New Mexico State University’s Water
Heater-Energy Savings Study, the lifespan of appliances such as
water heaters, washing machines and dishwashers can be reduced by as
much as 30 percent when hard water is used in the home. Also, when
hard water is heated, the minerals in the water can precipitate out
and form scales in the bottom of the water heater. These scales may
build up and result in increased water heating costs.
Another factor to consider is the high costs
associated with repairing major appliances. How much would you be
willing to pay to repair a 5-year-old washing machine? Due to the
high cost of repairs, replacement is often the best option once hard
water has wreaked havoc on an appliance. By using soft water you can
add more than three years to the longevity of most of your
appliances -- and save yourself the expense of replacing them much
sooner than you expected.
The first step in solving hard water problems is
determining the hardness of your water. One simple way to find out
is to call for a free hard water test kit from the makers of Diamond
Crystal water softening products. Consumers can call (800) 428-4244
for the free kit, which includes an easy-to-use test strip, a coupon
for a free bag of water softening salt, and other helpful
Courtesy of ARA Content