Do you live in a region with harsh water? It may be a good idea to invest in a water softener..
Water softeners help make the water from your tap better to drink, cook with, and bathe in. There are several types of water softeners, and each has a specific purpose. Some water softeners are attached to the faucet, whereas others are located beneath the sink or attached to the shower head.
Ultimately their end goal is to improve the quality of your home’s water, including its smell and taste. Read below for more on how to choose a water softener for your home.
Types of water softeners
Water softeners remove minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron from your water supply before it enters your home. This means that the water you drink, cook with, or use for other household activities is soft water. There are several benefits of soft water – we’ll address those in another section.
First, let’s look at the different types of water softeners. Each water softener systems uses a different method to soften hard water. Here is a list of the five most common types.
1. Salt-based water softener
Also known as the ion exchange water softener, this type uses sodium to remove hard minerals such as magnesium and calcium. Sodium is considered a softer mineral than magnesium and calcium. The softener’s resin beads use sodium ions to exchange with the ions of the harsher minerals. Once softened, the water is routed through the filtration system to a holding tank.
Although this method may add a small quantity of salt (sodium) to the water, it’s barely noticeable. The salt added to the water helps to make sure your water that won’t harm your faucets and appliances, or hair and skin.
Salt-based softeners are one of the most popular types of water softeners and they come in a wide range of sizes to suit a variety of homes. Also, when the sodium ions on the resin beads are depleted, they can be cleaned or “recharged” for reuse.
Note: There are many different types of water softener salt you can use. These include pellet salt, solar salt, rust inhibitor salt, rock salt, potassium chloride, and block salt. Your choice will depend on the types and levels of minerals in your water.
2. Showerhead water softeners
Some people can need to purchase water softeners for their entire water supply. For others, it might not be necessary to do so. If you only need soft water in your shower, showerhead softeners are far less expensive than softening your entire water supply.
These softeners will help protect your hair and skin against the effects of the hard water. It also prevents hard water spots on your tiles and bathtub.
Installation is easy. Simply replace your old shower head and connect the new water softener in its place. The showerhead has the softener technology built-in with a cartridge filter and works by removing mineral deposits before they leave the showerhead. Just be sure to replace your cartridge filters every two months.
There are also showerhead softeners with vitamin filters that add vitamins to your bath water. Note that these may also include other additives, such as fragrances which might not be suitable for you.
3. Salt-free water softeners
If you are unable to use the salt softener for health reasons, this type of water softener does not use salt. Instead of using ion exchange to neutralize heavy minerals and metals, the salt-free softening system uses the template-assisted crystallization (TAC) method to eliminate toxic materials, metals, and minerals from your water.
The softener creates small nucleation sites in the water where the heavy mineral particles are collected into polymeric crystals as the water moves through the system. A crystallization process prevents the mineral deposits from attaching to anything while they move through the water.
After neutralizing the minerals, the water passes harmlessly and does not cause mineral build-up or scale in the piping systems.
4. Magnetic water softeners
These types of water softeners neutralize heavy minerals in the water with the use of a magnet. The magnetic field in these softeners strips the positive and negative ions from the minerals. This way, the minerals remain in the water but are incapable of bonding with each other.
The mineral ions then become soluble in water, so they won’t corrode or form deposits on your piping system. It is an effective water-softening technique however, it’s not a permanent one.
Usually, this process only alters the water’s chemical composition without removing the minerals entirely. As such, the water will regain its hardness after a few days.
5. Reverse osmosis
Reverse osmosis units remove hard minerals and impurities in your water through filtration. Unlike other water softeners, this type of system does more than just soften the water – it filters out other harmful contaminants as well.
Here, the system uses high pressure to push water through filters with semipermeable membranes. The filter traps any minerals, nitrates, metals, chlorine, carbon, and other harmful elements in the water. It not only leaves the water soft but also safe to drink.
The sediment and carbon filters included in the systems extract everything from unpleasant smells and dirt to harsh chemicals like chlorine. While they are not commonly used for entire home water systems, they are very effective as under-the-sink installations. They are ideal for providing single-point softened water.
Benefits of water softeners
1. Healthier hair and skin
Heavy minerals can be abrasive to the hair and skin. They prevent soap from lathering correctly, leaving irritating soap scum behind. Hard water could also be the cause of the itchy feeling you get after taking a shower.
2. Reduces scale accumulation on the piping system
One of the most noticeable water softener advantages is the elimination of the heavy minerals that cause the accumulation of scales. Your plumbing system will no longer have scale deposits! Scaling can cause plumbing issues like blockages and even corrosion, which is especially common in metallic pipes.
3. Use less soap and detergent
Hard water doesn’t lather easily due to the presence of minerals like magnesium and calcium. Softened water lathers easily and therefore makes for better showers and cleaner laundry. Also, it means that you’ll use less detergent, which will save you some money.
4. Lower utility bills
Soft water improves the performance of the heat transfer elements in water heaters. An increase in water heater efficiency means a decrease in your power bills.
Water softeners have several benefits, including healthier skin and hair and cleaner pipes. Depending on your specific needs, there are several options to choose from.
Thinking of investing in a water softener? Book an appointment with our professionals, so you can get started on improving your water quality.