What Is Water Softener & How Exactly Does It Work?
People tend to soften hard water whether they are in a household or a business because hard water can cause issues like soaps not being dissolved properly leading to clogged pipes etc. This is because hard water can cause limescale to build up, which could also make it harder for boilers to heat up, in turn, increasing your water bill by 15%-20%.
These are just a few reasons why hard water can have a negative effect and why many people will choose to soften it. This guide was made to help you learn about how water softening works and when it should be done.
What Is Water Softening?
Water is considered hard when high levels of magnesium and calcium can be found in it. Water softening is a process in which these magnesium and calcium ions are removed. The most effective way of softening water is by using a unit that can be directly connected to the water supply.
How Do I Know If I Need My Water Softened?
There are many different ways to tell if you need to soften your water. These are some things that you should look out for within your home;
- There is a scale is building up on your appliances.
- Your skin and hair are becoming dry.
- Clothing colours are fading in the wash.
- There are stains on the sinks and baths.
- Plumbing is constantly in need of repair.
- The water bill is becoming very expensive.
- Your glassware is becoming brittle.
You can also create a test at home with common household appliances. To do this, you will need:
- A clean and clear bottle
- Pure liquid soap
- Water from your tap that you are testing.
Fill your bottle one-third of the way with water, then add just a few drops of your soap and shake vigorously for a few seconds. Now take a look at the bottle, if there is a lack of fluffy bubbles and the water appears cloudy then your water is hard.
Although this is a great makeshift test, it isn’t 100% accurate, there are tests that you can purchase online or professionals who can test it for you to give you a clear and definite answer. You can also check on Aqua Cure’s website to see what the water is like in your area through the use of a postcode checker.
How Does Water Softener Work?
Water softening happens through a process called ion exchange, which works to eliminate any magnesium and calcium from the water. This happens when the hard water passes through a bed of circular resin beads. These beads are most commonly made from polystyrene and charged with a sodium ion, meaning they have a negative charge. Whereas, calcium and magnesium, on the other hand, have a positive charge.
Since opposites attract, this means that when the ions flow through the negatively charged beads, the beads will grab hold of them and remove them from the water. When the beads do this, a sodium ion is then released which helps to strip all of the hardness out of the water.
Can I Drink Softened Water?
When you soften your water, you are swapping out the magnesium and calcium for sodium. Sodium is more commonly known as salt. This is why there is debate around whether drinking softened water is bad for you or not.
Softened water doesn’t actually contain an unhealthy amount of sodium. In your average 250ml glass of water, there is only 1% of your recommended daily sodium intake. Sodium isn’t bad for your diet, it is something that we need, in moderation. People who are on a low sodium diet or babies under 6 weeks, need to be more cautious about the amount of their intake than others, so it is recommended that those people don’t drink softened water.
However, for everyone else, drinking softened water shouldn’t cause any problems as long as the sodium levels in the water are within the drinking water regulations (400ppm).
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