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Not sure which water treatment method is right for you? Take a few facts into consideration. Water softening treatments use sodium to reduce or remove the hardness in water. They may also reduce the healthier minerals in the water, however. Water filters do not add anything to the water supply. They are designed to effectively remove dangerous elements from the water. This is done by having the untreated water pass through a system of meshes and/or carbon granules. These filtration systems can be installed inside or outside your home.
Many water softeners use sodium as a key ingredient. While this is effective in removing "hardness" from water, there is a concern about elevated sodium levels in the water. Most often, health is not at risk. However, those with high blood pressure should consult with a doctor before using water softeners to treat their water supply.
Three types of salt are generally used in water softeners: rock salt, solar salt, or evaporated salt. Rock salt as a mineral occurs naturally in the ground. It contains between ninety-eight and ninety-nine percent sodium chloride. Solar salt as a natural product is obtained mainly through evaporation of seawater. It contains 85% sodium chloride. Evaporated salt is obtained through mining underground salt deposits. The moisture is evaporated, using energy from natural gas or coal. Evaporated salt contains between 99.6 and 99.99% sodium chloride.
There are many benefits to using soft water in your home. Towels washed in softened water typically need less detergent and come out whiter. Clothes are softer, cleaner, brighter, and last longer. Dishes are cleaner, with less soap residue and hard water spotting. Tubs, showers, and sinks are easier to clean because there is reduced hard water build-up.
The amount of sodium added to water from soft water systems depends on how hard the water supply was before the process began. Very hard water (more than 10 grains of hardness per gallon) requires only 20 to 40 mg of sodium to be added to every 8 ounces of water. If that sounds like a lot, consider this: an 8-ounce glass of low-fat milk contains about 120 mg of sodium, a 12-ounce can of diet soda contains from 20 to 70 mg, and an 8-ounce glass of orange juice contains about 25 mg.
More than 85 percent of the United States geography has hard water. Water softeners are used to enjoy the benefits of soft water, but many are not sure if soft water is safe to drink. Sodium bicarbonate is formed through the water softening process. But this sodium is not the same as sodium chloride, better known as table salt. Although there is a myth that softening your water will result in salty-tasting water, this is usually not the case.
To remove chlorine and other chemicals and minerals from your shower water, a soft water filter is a must. Certain models of filter also prevent bacterial growth. Chlorine chemically bonds to the protein in your hair and skin. This destroys its natural ecological balance. Chlorine can leave your hair dry and brittle and make your skin flaky and itchy. Using a soft water filter in your shower is like bathing in natural spring water!
More than 90 percent of the sodium in our diets comes from sources such as processed foods and table salt. The recommended daily allowance for sodium consumption is 2,400 mg. Drinking soft water in an amount of two quarts would only add approximately 240 mg of sodium to your diet but that does not mean that it is not harmful. Soft water is more corrosive and can actually leach metals from the pipes as it comes into your home. You should avoid drinking soft water and consider investing in a water filter for your fawcet and shower.
Of course, there are resources all over the web and in the media that will tell you anything and everything you need to know about soft water. Consider your state websites and government publications for non-biased information about water contamination and pollutants. For example, you can find a great article about the disadvantages of drinking soft water at nashville.gov.
A common point-of-entry water treatment device is the use of water softeners. Water softeners reduce water hardness but do not remove organic chemicals. Many add sodium to the water in order to break down harsh chemicals. The chemicals are not removed, however. What can be removed are the good minerals that are found in the water.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|