Soft water is ideal and in the UK it’s hard to come by naturally so the advent of water softeners. Scotland, Cornwall and the Lake District are some of the exceptions, whereby soft water pours through the taps.
For the rest, it’s hard water. In many cases, people won’t even know the benefits of soft water until they visit someone with it. But you don’t have to live with hard water and the problems it causes.
Hard water scales water tanks, washing machines, boilers and pipes. It will also reduce the efficiency of your systems and increase energy bills. Eventually it’ll mean you have to fork out for either repairs or a replacement.
You’ll find that with hard water you’ll also be using more soaps and shampoo, as it’s worse for your skin and hair. But you don’t have to live with it.
How water softeners work
Water softeners exchange ions to convert the water from hard to soft.
Hard water is filled with calcium and magnesium ions. Whereas the softeners contain sodium ions. When water passes through the softener, the calcium and magnesium are retained and sodium ions are released.
After this exchange the water has been converted to soft.
When the process has finished, the resin bed that collects the magnesium and calcium ions must be cleaned so that it can continue to soften water.
Therefore, salt water is used to loosen the ions and the system backwashes, flushing them away.
The difference in water softeners isn’t down to the process, but how the system actually operates. For example, some use the energy of moving water, while others use electricity.
The former are better for your bills and are very reliable. With no buttons to push or timer to set, they’re very much hands-free.
Benefits of softened water
- With softened water you’ll use up to 50% less soap and shampoo as it lathers well
- There won’t be a build-up of scale in pipes and boilers. This will mean heating bills are reduced. Just 1/16th inch of scale will record a 12% loss in efficiency
- Appliances that are free from scale will last longer
- You won’t need to clean household fittings and equipment as often
- Soft water can improve dry skin conditions such as Eczema and Psoriasis.