Hard Facts about 7 Common Water-Softening Myths
Arizona has hard water; that’s a given. Once you accept that fact, you have to decide what to do about the water in your house.
Here are the basics: The WQA (Water Quality Association) and U.S. Department of the Interior define water as being slightly hard when it has from 1 to 3.5 grains per gallon of calcium and magnesium bicarbonates occurring naturally in the water. In Arizona, hardness levels vary from as little as 5 grains per gallon to as much as 25 grains per gallon in city water. These levels are not dangerous. After all, about 80 percent of the water in the United States is considered hard. Wells in Arizona can be even harder, I have personally tested well hardness as high as 100 grains per gallon.
Most homeowners don’t like that these minerals can cause scale build-up inside plumbing and appliances. The useful life of a dishwasher and a water heater can be shortened dramatically as a result of hard water. Many do not like the taste of the water, which can be caused by the chemicals in the water used for purification and the treatment plant is more harmful to you than the hardness. So, when considering water treatment, always use a system that conditions the water as well. Conditioning is the removal of organic chemicals and most softeners do not do this.
If you do not want to add a softener, at the very least, you should use carbon filtration to improve the taste and remove the chemicals from your bath water. Your body is organic so it absorbs these chemicals through your skin. This is what dries out your skin and hair. If you are only worried about your drinking water, a reverse-osmosis system or distillation unit can do even more to clarify your water by combining carbon filtration with the removal of dissolved solids or what some people call “floaties.” If you would like your RO water to be pH-balanced we have filters we can install to add bio usable minerals back into the water.
When it comes to the hardness of the water, however, we recommend purchasing a proven water treatment system to handle the issue. You do have choices when it comes to water treatment and we are here to teach you how the different technologies work. A water treatment system is the only way to end or minimize scale on shower walls as well as the mineral build-up in appliances and water heaters. In the process, you can eliminate dry-skin problems and cut back on the use of soaps, detergents, shampoos, and fabric softeners.
If you’re doing your homework before you buy, which you should, you’re likely to hear many myths about what water treatment does and doesn’t do. If you are talking to a dealer who only sells one type of water treatment technology they will try and scare you into buying what they have. We carry all current proven technologies and will show you the pros and cons of each. We want you, the customer, to have a system that fits your needs and lifestyle. If we don't carry the technology you seek we will recommend a reputable company that does.
If you are putting a system on a well, I recommend a full water test before you buy. Many wells in Arizona contain arsenic so you should always have your water tested for this first.
Here are some claims you should discount:
Myth No. 1: You can soften water with a salt-free system. That is just not possible. To soften water, you must remove the minerals. Any non-salt system that says they soften the water is misleading you. Many do little to nothing to fight scale or scale damage to your property. There are many technologies used by these companies to reduce scale, but Systems that say they are no-salt softeners are actually just scale inhibitors. Some can decrease the scale inside appliances; some will hardly affect that scale at all. They all work to a point, however, the only way to truly reduce scale buildup, other than an ion-exchange softener, is to use a TAC media and this is a chemical crystallization of the minerals. Anyone using magnetic or radio wave technology is helping, but they are not effective. All of that said, if you're seeking truly SOFT water the only way to remove hardness in water is by installing an ion-exchange softener. It will remove hardness — the scale-forming calcium and magnesium — by replacing it with sodium chloride or potassium chloride.
Myth No. 2: By removing dissolved solids from the water you will deprive your body of healthy nutrients like calcium and magnesium, prevalent in hard water. The problem with that argument is that the calcium and magnesium in your water are in an inorganic form that your body cannot digest in the way that it can the minerals in your food or dietary supplements. Most of the minerals in water are not used by your body but leaving the minerals in the water you are drinking is good because it keeps the PH balanced in the water. If you're using a salt system we recommend you put in an RO system with a mineral adding filter.
Myth No. 3: Softened water leaves a film on your skin because something has been added to your water. It’s true that your skin will feel softer and less dry after a shower in softened water because your natural body-moisturizing oils are better able to reach your skin’s surface as the minerals are not plugging your pores. In addition, soaps, shampoos, and shower gels will suds up faster. After you shower in soft or conditioned water, you are actually much cleaner than when you shower in non-conditioned water.
Myth No. 4: Softeners add extra salt to your water. That is not really happening because the softening process is an ion-exchange system that removes the salt holding the calcium and magnesium and replaces them with other salts. You’re not really adding to the total salt level in your water. By comparison, an 8-ounce glass of Coca-Cola has 30 milligrams of sodium while an 8-ounce glass of softened water has less than 12.5 milligrams In most cases. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a typical 1-ounce slice of bread has between 80 and 230 milligrams of salt, depending on the brand. The biggest problem with Drinking soft water is taste.
Myth No. 5: Drinking water purified in a reverse-osmosis system or in a distiller will leech essential minerals from your body. This old and untrue story can be found all over the Internet. Nothing is purged from your body by drinking filtered or distilled water, however PH-Balanced water is better at satisfying thirst. The EPA actually advocates the use of reverse osmosis to remove some substances from drinking water. Generally, you should also avoid any company that uses scare tactics to sell their systems.
Myth No. 6: Water from a reverse osmosis system or a distiller will be acidic. RO/distilled water does have a lower pH level. That’s because these systems remove dissolved bicarbonate solids, but not acid-producing carbon dioxide. Without the bicarbonates to neutralize it, there is carbonic acid in the RO water. But it is not a health concern, nor will it endanger your water pipes. Although the pH level of untreated tap water will be between 7 and 8; the level of RO water is about 6. Soft drinks and sports drinks typically have a pH of 2.5; orange juice ranges 3.3 to 4.19 pH, and coffee is at 5 pH. We drink these beverages all the time without major problems.
Myth No. 7: Using potassium in a water softener makes it a non-salt system. Potassium is, in fact, a salt. It is Potassium chloride, a metal halide salt. it is also 5 times the price of standard softener salt. So do not let a company tell you it is a non-salt system and if they do, run because they are not being honest.