What exactly is soft water?
Water very commonly contains hardness elements such as magnesium and calcium, dissolved rock, hence the description of hard water. Soft water is when these minerals are removed through a process known as ion exchange. If you have hard water, you may see staining or scaling build up on your sinks, tubs, showers and clothing; scaling deposits on your glassware; and damage due to scale in your pipes and appliances. You will also notice less lather from your shampoos/soaps and a filmy dryness feeling on your skin. Often, types of skin irritations are tied to hard water. All of these are symptoms of the need for softened water.
Hard water can also produce a rock-like scale that builds up in pipes, water heaters, plumbing fixtures, dishwashers and other water-related appliances. This scale will reduce water flow, clog valves and vents and create maintenance problems reducing the life of your appliances.
How do I know if my water is hard?
Our water experts can provide a water analysis for hardness, iron, pH and total dissolved solids, typically at no cost to you. Depending on the testing equipment we use, we may be able to perform other tests. WE can also direct your water sample to a specialized water testing organization that can provide a more detailed analysis of your water for you. As your local Kinetico water expert will help you interpret the results and determine if any treatment is necessary.
I live in the city. Isn’t my water already treated by the municipality?
Your city water supplier is not required to provide you with soft water. Many municipalities reduce the amount of hardness to some degree. But according to the U.S. Geological Survey, 85 percent of cities are still supplied with hard water. Your city is required to provide you with water test results that show water hardness; just call the number on your water bill.
Many people that use city water choose to soften it to save money on soaps and cleaners, protect their plumbing systems from scale buildup, protect their water-using appliances from hard water scale, provide better water for bathing, healthier skin and hair and eliminate hard water spots, among other things.
What are the benefits of treated water?
Soap and detergent usage can be dramatically lowered with soft water. Since the water is already soft, cleaning agents have no hard minerals to react with and overcome. This allows cleaning agents to lather more readily and work more effectively. In fact, a large proportion of the ingredients in most soaps and detergents consist of chemical “water softeners” added to prevent the reaction between the detergent and the hard minerals present in most water (the reaction that forms a sticky residue or soap curd). Since, such chemicals are not necessary for cleaning with soft water, less soap is required. Soft water households experience considerable savings on laundry soap, dish-washing detergent, hand soap and many other cleaning products.
Given that soft water contains no scale forming minerals, it leaves the inside of plumbing and water-using appliances free of solidified rock. Appliances operate more efficiently and last longer when using soft water. Leading appliance manufacturers, including Maytag, have recognized the problems caused by hard water and recommend the use of home water softeners to help their own products operate more efficiently.
In addition, calcium and magnesium, the two minerals that make water hard, might actually have some adverse effects on the foods you eat and the beverages you drink.
First, hardness minerals can detract from the taste of the water, as well as any beverage or food made with water, such as coffee, concentrated juice, soup or even gelatin. Other water contaminants can affect foods by imparting bad tastes or unhealthy compounds.
Second, some foods, especially fresh vegetables, don’t cook or taste as good when prepared with hard water because the calcium combines with a protein in vegetable skins, making them tough and sometimes shriveled.