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Glover Maintenance Blog

Is Soft Water Really Worth it?

Running faucet filling a glass of waterHard or soft water? Ask your friends and they’ll all have different opinions. Whether you choose to install a water softener is more about personal preference. Like everything, there are pros and cons. We’ll outline them here and leave you to make the decision.

First, here is a little science lesson to explain how water softeners work. The regular water that comes out of your tap is hard water. It contains “harder” minerals such as calcium and magnesium. When the water passes through a softener filter, ions are exchanged. The hard minerals are replaced by “softer” minerals of sodium or potassium, thus giving you soft water.

Pros
Your soap and detergent will get extra mileage. Soft water requires less soap to create lather, so you’ll actually use less. This goes for the washing machine, the dishwasher and in the shower.

Hard water produces calcium buildup, known as scale, that gives your dishes and appliances that cloudy look. If you’re frustrated that your glasses never look clean, then get a water softener.

Soft water is also gentler on pipes and appliances for the same reason; it reduces scale. Over time the calcium can build up and clog pipes.

Even though you’re paying up to $20 a bag for salt, a water softener will save you money. You’ll use 50-70% less detergent on laundry and dishes (1). It will also lengthen the life of your water heater and appliances by keeping them unclogged (2).

Cons
When showering, you’ll get that feeling like the soap never washes off. It can take a while to get used to. The shower floor may also feel more slippery.

Many people argue that soft water contains more sodium and is therefore bad for your health. Studies estimate the average person consumes two to three teaspoons of salt a day. Less than 3% of that comes from drinking softened water (3). So if you’re really worried about too much salt, then you’re better off changing your diet.

The water softener salt is used to clean the resin beads in the filter that exchange the ions. Only a small amount of sodium is put into the softened water. Regardless, soft water just doesn’t taste as good as hard water. So if you install a softener we recommend not attaching it to your kitchen sink.

The calcium and magnesium found in hard water are important to the human body (4). You miss out on these minerals when you opt for soft water. Again, this can be solved by using hard water for your kitchen sink or adding them into your diet.

Conclusion
Now that you have some facts go ask your friends and neighbors for their “soft” preferences. Hopefully your decision isn’t too hard.

(1) http://www.waterboss.com/watersoftenermyths.shtml
(2) http://www.wef.org/publications/page_wet.aspx?id=8057&page=ca&section=Waterline
(3) http://www.lenntech.com/processes/softening/faq/water-softener-faq.htm
(4) http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/

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