Sadly, there are many myths circulating about water softeners and the soft water that they produce. One of the most persistent myths is that softened water is unsafe to drink. Many people want to switch to soft water because it’s easier to use and it’s kinder to plumbing and water using appliances. Some of these people hear this, and this makes them reluctant to make the change. In this article, we will dispel this myth and show that softened water is not harmful to your health.
What is Hard Water?
On the journey to our waterways and aquifers, our water passes through the ground and rock. Water is a very effective solvent, and it dissolves the minerals it passes through. This makes the water high in certain minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and others that make the water hard. Most homes in our country receive hard water from public water suppliers and private wells. Hard water can cause a buildup of scale that can build up over time to damage plumbing and water using appliances.
How is Water Softened?
Hard water issues are not treated at the municipal water treatment plant, and the homeowner has to make the decision to switch to soft water. A water softener system can be installed where the water enters the home to remove the water hardness. This is achieved by using an ion exchange process, the ions in the water hardening minerals are exchanged for softer sodium ions. Then the softened water can carry on to be delivered to every faucet and showerhead in the home.
Is Softened Water Safe to Drink?
The short answer is yes, but let’s examine why people think that it’s harmful. The root of this belief is related to how the water softener works. As we showed above the exchange process removes a water hardening mineral ion and exchanges if for a sodium ion. Sodium is essentially salt, so some people jump to the conclusion that there must be a lot of added salt in softened water. This may seem to be a logical conclusion, but it has no real basis in fact.
The Minute Quantities of Added Sodium (Salt)
When we talk about an ion exchange, we are talking about extremely tiny quantities of material. In fact, scientists can study the relative size of atoms by simply measuring the radii of their constituent ions. An ion is smaller than an atom, but it is fair to say that many ions are being exchanged during the ion exchange process. But, even all of those sodium ions added together would not result in a large quantity of salt in the softened water. If a person was exceptionally sensitive to salt and/or they were on an extremely strict low salt diet it may be an issue, but most people wouldn’t notice the difference at all.
If you want to learn more about water softeners contact your local water treatment professional for expert advice.