Water Softeners: Myths vs. Facts


Water softeners are very beneficial for those who want better-quality water. These systems are popular, and they come in different sizes and shapes. However, they are also prone to various misconceptions and myths.

In this article, we’ll define what water softeners are and list the most prevalent myths surrounding them. We’ll talk about these myths and discuss the facts that disprove them. Read on!

What are Water Softeners?

A water softener is a filtration system that removes hard water from your house. It does that by removing minerals like calcium and magnesium from the water supply. 

When hard water — or water filled with excess minerals — enters the water tank of the softening system, it flows through a bed of resin beads. 

The beads are charged with sodium ions. When these ions come in contact with calcium and magnesium, a chemical reaction takes place. The beads “grab” the minerals and remove them from the water, which is softened when it comes out of pipes and faucets.

Even though the process sounds straightforward enough, a lot of confusion and myths still exist, such as the following.

Myth: Salt-Based Systems are the Only Systems that Work

Fact: many consumers mistakenly believe that the only way to soften water is by using salt-based systems. However, this is not true because many ways exist to soften water. The prevalence of this myth has something to do with the fact that most softening systems today are salt-based or ion-exchange systems.

Salt-free water softening systems also exist. A great example of them is a water conditioning system, which uses a variety of methods to change the way impurities and contaminants behave in water. Here’s for you to get the facts about water conditioner systems.

Although salt-free water softeners and conditioners don’t remove minerals from the water, their function helps prevent mineral buildup or water spot problems. 

Myth: Soft Water Tastes Better

Fact: This is only true subjectively. Some people buy water softening systems because they think softened water has an enhanced taste.

Even though untreated water sometimes tastes funny, it doesn’t necessarily mean that soft water tastes better. Some people also think that soft water rather tastes bland while others enjoy their taste.

Again, the notion that soft water tastes better compared to untreated water completely depends on your subjective judgment. So, it varies from person to person.

Myth: Soft Water Tastes Salty

Fact: this is false. People believe that because water softeners use salt to remove water hardness, water becomes salty.

The fact is that there’s so little sodium in soft water; the average amount of sodium in a quart of water from a water softener is only 75 to 100 mg. So the salty taste will be imperceptible. For comparison, that’s a smaller amount of sodium than what you can find in a slice of bread.

Additionally, the amount of salt being added to the water will depend on the amount of hard minerals in the water.

Still, many health-conscious people worry that their sodium intake will increase because of water softeners. Here’s a solution: add reverse osmosis filtration to your system to also remove sodium from your softened water. However, this can be expensive.

Myth: Minerals in Hard Water are Good for the Body

Fact: this is also false. Some believe that minerals in hard water like calcium and magnesium are good for the body.

While calcium and magnesium are indeed nutrients for the body, they are still in their inorganic form when they’re found in hard water.

In other words, your body cannot digest them and get the benefits you expect. It’s still best to get these minerals from food.

While demineralized water has certain side effects — more on this below — water softeners do not demineralize hard water. So, even if calcium and magnesium are removed, minerals and other important nutrients remain in the water.

Myth: Waters Softeners also Purify Water

Fact: this is false. Water softeners are water treatment products that simply reduce or eliminate hard minerals in the water.

But when it comes to microorganisms, chemicals, and other sediments that might be found in the water, water softeners simply do not work effectively.

Water purification is a job for filtration and purification systems, which also come in many sizes and shapes. Water purifiers remove all kinds of minerals from the water in two ways:

  • Reverse osmosis
  • Distillation

Both processes not only remove calcium and magnesium in the water; they strip the water impurities, such a bacteria and microorganisms.

On the flipside, demineralized water also has some negative effects. Recent studies suggest that drinking low-mineral water may be a risk factor for hypertension and coronary heart diseases.

Myth: Water Softeners Waste Money

Fact: The initial cost might be high, but it isn’t that pricey over the long term.

People tend to think that the electricity, monthly bags of salt, and the maintenance the system needs are expensive.

However, the biggest savings will come from your other appliances. Remember that hard water damages your home’s plumbing and your appliances that use water. For instance, heating water will be much faster.

You will also save yourself from the costly repairs for pipes and plumbing when hard water breaks them. Frequent repairs will be unnecessary. The same goes for your clothes and silverware, which will not suffer from fading or spotting.

In other words, water softeners are a great investment if you want to save money in the longer run.

Myth: City Water Doesn’t Need Water Softeners

Fact: this is false. Water softeners are popular among households that have private wells that use groundwater — this means water almost always needs softening because most well waters have contaminants. 

On the flipside, municipal water is not necessarily soft or clean water. You can find hard water in most city water in the US. Keep in mind that different cities also have different water quality.

The bottom line is that whether or not your water is city water, you must find a way to improve your home’s water quality, whether it’s through water softening or other methods.

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