Hard water softener home remedy


Bath Salts & Soft Water

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Science isn’t just about what happens in a lab – it’s in every corner of your daily living! When you put lotion on your hands or chapstick on your lips, you’re taking advantage of science to take care of your body. Using the projects below you can mix up concoctions to make your skin healthier, stronger, and more up to the job of protecting your body. And these all-natural recipes help you avoid the chemicals that are used to help commercial products last longer.

>> Download our At-Home Spa Day Guide for several natural skin and hair-care recipes!

Make Your Own Bath Salts

Bath salts do more than simply scent the water in your tub! Make your bath more relaxing and learn about salts and osmosis. (Adult supervision recommended.)

What You Need:

  • Plastic mixing bowl
  • Plastic mixing spoon
  • 1 cup Epsom salt
  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon glycerin
  • Fragrance or essential oils (craft or health store)
  • Colorant (craft store)
  • Liquid soap
  • Jar with lid, baby soda bottles* or other airtight container

Note: Epsom salt and glycerin can also be found at drug stores.

What You Do:

  1. Mix together the Epsom salt and sea salt in the mixing bowl.
  2. Add glycerin to the salt mixture and mix through. The glycerin is not necessary, but it helps the colorant and oil get dispersed evenly through the salt.
  3. Add a few drops of fragrance or essential oils. Fragrance oils smell pleasant, but essential oils have therapeutic properties. Try using a couple of the following:

    Rosemary: stimulating, invigorating, deodorizing
    Lavender: deodorizing and antibacterial
    Chamomile: calmingCalendula: healing
    Peppermint: stimulating
    Lime: refreshing
    Note: Essential oils have different grades and must never be taken interally or applied directly on the skin. Use as directed.

  4. Add a few drops of colorant. We recommend getting oil-based skin-safe colorant from a craft store or else leaving out the colorant.
  5. Wet your hands with tap water, add a drop of soap to your hands, then rub together to form a lather. Observe how much lather forms, then rinse off your hands.
  6. Fill a sink with water and add about 1/8 cup of salt mixture to it. Use your hands to stir the water to help the salt dissolve. With your hands still wet from the salt water, add a drop of soap to your hands and rub them together to form a lather. How much lather formed this time?
  7. Store the remaining salts in a jar, keeping the lid on tightly to keep moisture out. Use about 1/4 cup of the salts in your bath.

*Baby soda bottles are ideally sized for storing single use portions of bath salts. If using baby soda bottles, you may find it easiest to fill them using a funnel.

What Happened:

Most likely you found it easier to form lather (and more of it!) when using the water with salt rather than the water with no salt. This is because of the difference between hard water and soft water.

Most households in America have hard water. Hard water has a high mineral content, usually with calcium and magnesium, whereas soft water contains less of these minerals. Calcium and magnesium ions in the hard water react with the soap, forming insoluble gray flakes called soap scum rather than a lather. This means you need more soap to get clean and the bathtub gets a grimy ring around it from the leftover soap scum. One way to soften hard bath water is to add bath salts. The calcium and magnesium ions in the water are replaced with sodium and potassium ions from the salt, allowing the soap to lather much more easily. (If your home has soft water, you may not notice too much of a difference in how well the soap lathers in the water with your bath salts and the water without the bath salts. However, the salt and essential oils will still have a beneficial effect on your skin.)

Another benefit of adding bath salts to your bath has to do with osmosis. Osmosis is the movement of water through a membrane (such as your skin) to achieve equilibrium. Your body contains water and salt, whereas an ordinary bath contains mainly water and very little salt. Therefore, water passes through your skin in an effort to balance the concentration of water and salt in you and in your bath. This excess water causes “pruning” (your fingers and toes wrinkle). Adding bath salts to the water causes a more equal balance of salt and water in both you and in the bath, so less water enters your skin and less wrinkling occurs. Salt is also thought to draw impurities and toxins out of your skin and soothes sore muscles!

For further study, try these other fun spa science projects:

  • Fizzy Bath Bombs
  • DIY Sugar Scrub

Homemade Lip Balm

Our lips have thin skin that doesn’t produce protective oils like the rest of our skin. This means it’s very easy for them to dry out with heat and cold and become chapped. Use the following recipe to make a natural lip balm that will moisturize and protect your lips! Most of these ingredients are available online or at health food stores. (Adult supervision recommended.)

  • Glass beaker or glass measuring cup
  • Saucepan and stove
  • 3 tsp. unbleached beeswax (in “pearl” form or grated and then measured)
  • 5 tsp. jojoba oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 2 drops tea tree oil
  • Essential oil of your choice for flavor (e.g., coconut, citrus, peppermint)
  • Small clean jar (or other small container)
  1. Place the beeswax and jojoba oil in the beaker and then set it in 2-3 inches of water in a saucepan. Heat over the stove until the water boils and stir until the beeswax is melted.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the honey and tea tree oil.
  3. When nearly cool, add 3-4 drops of your preferred essential oil flavor.
  4. Pour into the small jar.

Lip balm helps provide a protective layer on the lips that locks moisture in and helps heal chapping. The various ingredients in this lip balm work together to keep your lips soft and moist:

  • Beeswax is an emulsifier, helping keep the other ingredients smoothly mixed. It forms a protective barrier on your lips that holds moisture in the skin and prevents irritants from making contact.
  • Jojoba oil is a liquid wax from a desert plant and helps protect skin.
  • Honey is a sweet flavor, but also a skin moisturizer and can sooth irritated skin.
  • Tea tree oil acts as a natural antibacterial and antifungal.

How to Convert Hard Water into Soft Water

Water, the next name of life, is essential for a number of purposes such as drinking, bathing, washing clothes, utensils and for many other purposes. However, the presence of a number of impurities and salts make water unfit for consumption as well as for other usages in many areas. With the help of a water purifier, you can easily remove contaminants present in water to stay safe from diseases. However, most of the places in India get hard water, which is not very harmful to health but leads to scaling on pipes, utensils as well as kitchen fixtures. This is where a water softener can be of great help. The blog discusses the ways to identify hard water and different types of water softener that you can use to handle the problem.

How to Identify Hard Water?

How to Identify that Water is Hard

The following points mentioned below will help you identify if you receive hard water.

  • Check the cutlery as well as glassware. Presence white stains in the cutleries or glassware, is a sign that you receive hard water.
  • If you face the problem of itchy skin or dry hair all of a sudden, this may indicate that you receive hard water at home.
  • If clothes and fabrics lose shine and color after every wash, it indicates that you get hard water.
  • Presence of scale build-up in appliances is also an indication of the presence of hard water.
  • Hard water also leaves stains on sink and bathtub.
  • Scale build up on your plumbing fixtures also indicates that you receive hard water.

Though hard water doesn’t lead to diseases, it would build up excessive expenses. So, using the best water softener for home becomes a much-needed option for all.

The Harmful Effects of Hard Water

Hard water has a negative impact on your hair and skin. Excessive hair fall, dry and itchy skin, bumpy patches are all an indication that you receive hard water. The excessive calcium and magnesium present in hard water make it difficult for the cleaning products to dissolve well in the water. This is the reason why hard water leads to excessive hair fall and skin problems. Babies are at a higher risk as they have sensitive skin. Using hard water for bathing babies may increase the risk of eczema, rashes and skin problems.

How Can Water Softener for Home Bring a Difference?

Usage of water softener can eliminate the adverse effects of hard water to a great extent. A water softener removes hardness in water by eliminating the sodium (salt) from the water.

  • Water Softener for Bathroom: If you want a compact and easy to use a water softener, you need to opt for a water softener for bathrooms. Water softener for bathrooms removes the calcium and magnesium from the inlet hard water, thereby reducing the impact of hard water by 30%. Soft water protects your hair, forms more lather and also consumes less water when washing clothes or utensils. Soft water also keeps clothes soft, clean and white and also enhances the life of clothes.
  • Water Softener for Home:
  • Soft water also ensures that there are no stains or build up. A water softener can also be used for cleaning floors.

Studying the cause of water hardness and ensuring that people don’t get affected by it, KENT has introduced three models of water softener for the convenience of the users. Here’s a detailed description of the water softeners available:

KENT Autosoft 11039 – Water Softener for Whole House

KENT Autosoft 11039 – Whole House Water Softener

It is one of the best hard water softeners that is based on patented technology that allows complete automatic regeneration through 5 stages. The stages of regeneration are normal, backwash, recharging, flushing and brine refill. It can be installed before or after the overhead storage tank to ensure that soft water is supplied to the whole house. The model also has LCD panel (operating panel) that will allow the user to operate the water softener according to the individual need.

KENT Bathroom Water Softener

KENT Bathroom Water Softner

KENT Bathroom Water Softener is another model, which is compact in design and can supply soft water 24×7. Easy to install and operate, the water softener holds the ability to convert hard water into soft by exchanging hard salts of calcium and magnesium with sodium and potassium. KENT Bathroom Water Softener uses 2 steps regeneration process, which can be easily executed by the users making it extremely convenient.

KENT Washing Machine Water Softener

KENT Washing Machine Water Softener

KENT Washing Machine Water Softener converts hard water into soft which helps in generating extra lather. The water softener is made exclusively for washing machines, which saves detergent and water. This Water Softener for Washing Machine converts hard water into soft by replacing salts such as calcium and magnesium with sodium through an ion-exchange process.

Those were some of the reasons to use a water softener. The useful appliance ensures that there is no build up and also uses less water or detergent. So, install the best water softener in your home today and get ready to feel and experience the actual difference between the hard water and soft water.

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5 Simple Hard Water Treatments

A common household pest that simply won’t go away – hard water – and we don’t mean ice. Hard water treatment is a common issue faced by homeowners and renters in high sediment areas. Water is considered “hard” when high levels of dissolved minerals are found within its makeup. When that water evaporates, it leaves behind the mineral deposits on the surface. These deposits are referred to as hard water stains.

A common misconception about hard water is that it isn’t healthy. In many ways, it can actually help prevent disease and strengthen your intake of daily-recommended mineral values – nature’s “one-a-day”. Although hard water is not a problem for the human body, it can have devastating effects on plumbing, hot water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, and many other household appliances.

The most annoying quality of hard water is that it leaves white residue on dishes, glassware, and sinks. Hard water reduces the life span of plumbing systems and contributes to problems such as rusting, reduced effectiveness of cleaning agents, and scale buildup in pipes.

Although hard water is not a problem for the human body, it can have devastating effects on plumbing, hot water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, and many other household appliances.

Additionally, scale accumulation stemming from the buildup can result in water heaters and plumbing systems using more energy, in turn costing more money in the long run.

Although hard water is not a problem for the human body, it can have devastating effects on plumbing, hot water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, and many other household appliances.

The ultimate and most effective hard water treatment solution for this problem would be to invest in a powerful whole house water filter and descaler to significantly reduce scale.

However, there are also a few other hard water treatment options you can try out in your home.


Since the majority of hard water is calcium, it is highly reactive with acids like vinegar.

Place small fixtures that are covered in buildup into a bowl of hot, all-natural vinegar to dissolve the calcium deposit in about an hour. Another common hard water treatment recommendation for white film and spot problems on your appliances is using distilled vinegar. This will kill mold, bacteria, germs, and help clean dish-ware through regular wash cycles.

You may also notice a build-up of soap scum from hard water that vinegar can help with. A simple rinsing with 1 part apple cider vinegar and 3 parts filtered water will do the trick.


Not many people realize that running hot water through the hot water heater contributes to hard water stains and mineral buildup. This is due to the mineral precipitation process that takes place in the hottest part of the plumbing system. Over time, the hot water heater will accumulate scale. Reducing the temperature of the heater will help delay the accumulation.

It is also important to flush the heater every so often to keep sediment from clogging up the fixture. In areas with hard water, this is especially problematic as it contributes to the amount of time it takes for your hot water heater to accumulate unnecessary junk at the bottom of the tank.

3. Rinse Aid

Ever notice with hard water, you usually have to use extra soap for it to foam? This is because soap molecules are negatively charged on one end to help the molecule dissolve in water.

The other end of the molecule works to keep oil particles suspended in the water. Hard water works against the molecule because it contains positively charged calcium atoms. The two form a bond with no charge, rendering the soap molecule unable to dissolve.

To minimize hard water deposits on dishes and glassware, use a product similar to Lemi-Shine. Products like this work to treat years of hard water buildup, stains, and film. Products that are specifically formulated for hard water are made to withstand the positive charge of the calcium atoms so that soap can be rinsed off easily.

4. Appliance cleaners

As mentioned above, it is important to treat hard water buildup on appliances. This rule applies to pipe systems as well. Over time, calcified buildup becomes hard to remove. Clean pipes and appliances regularly to keep from having to replace them too soon with simple appliance cleaning solutions that are available from many brands. These solutions include cleaners that are acidic, abrasive, chlorine-based, and more.

As mentioned above, vinegar is an inexpensive substitute for some more expensive packaged appliance cleaners. For smaller appliances such as coffee makers, run two cups of strong white vinegar water through them on a regular basis. This will ensure that it’s being cleaned thoroughly in areas that are hard to reach and will keep tea and coffee tasting great while lengthening the lifespan of the appliance.


For the long-term, comprehensive protection for pipes and all appliances, the best thing to do is invest in a descaler. The Aquasana Whole House Salt-free Water Conditioner is the healthier choice for the human body, as it will not expose the immune system to the unneeded salt.

More than just a softener, this effective softening substitute tackles typical hard water problems using proven salt-free SCM technology designed to prevent scale formation and protect plumbing from corrosion. SCM technology alters the structure of the hard minerals into a crystal structure that prevents the minerals from binding and forming scale buildup. Unlike salt-based water softeners, Aquasana SCM technology will not demineralize your water nor will it negatively affect the environment by adding excessive amounts of sodium into our communal water system.

Alex VanScoy Categories:

  • Education

Tagged as:

  • contaminants
  • filtration
  • hard water
  • water softener

Home Remedy for Hard Water

Your water may not feel hard, but it can still cause problems.

Things You Will Need


  • Undiluted vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Plastic storage bag
  • Bucket
  • Soft cloth
  • Toilet brush
  • Pumice stone

If you are not ready to buy a water softener, you can remove hard water deposits and stain with a little scrubbing.

Clean Clogged Shower heads

  1. Add 1/2 cup of undiluted vinegar to a plastic food storage bag.

  2. Place the bag over the showerhead so that the head fits into the solution.

  3. Squeeze the ends of the bag together around the showerhead and secure the bag with a rubber band. Allow the showerhead to soak in the bag for at least two hours. You can also leave it overnight.

  4. Remove the bag. Turn on the water. Allow it to flow through the showerhead and remove remaining vinegar.

  5. Cut off the water. Wipe the showerhead to give it shine.

Remove Hard Water Sink Stains

  1. Fill a spray bottle with pure vinegar. Do not mix it with water.

  2. Spray the finger evenly over one of your sinks. You might start in the bathroom first. Spray it around the base of the faucet handles as well. If you have small leaks there, hard water stains may exist there, too.

  3. Wait a few minutes to let the solution attack the stain. Increase the wait time if the sink has heavy stains.

  4. Wipe the sink with a soft cloth to remove the vinegar. Run fresh water in the sink to remove any remaining traces of vinegar. If traces of the stain still linger, repeat the process and let the vinegar solution stand a little longer.

  5. Repeat these steps to clean other sinks containing hard water deposits or stains. You can also use this procedure to clean soap scum and stains from your bathtub.

Remove Hard Water Deposits from Toilet

  1. Fill a bucket with water, and pour it into the toilet. This will cause the water to rise and allow you to clean a larger area inside the toilet.

  2. Pour pure vinegar into your toilet bowl and scrub all areas inside the bowl.

  3. Brush the inside of the bowl vigorously with a toilet brush. This should remove the deposits. If you still see small water rings in the bowl, scrub them vigorously with a pumice stone to remove them.

  4. Remove the lid from the toilet’s holding tank, and pour 3 cups of pure vinegar into the tank. This will remove any hard water stains from the tank as well.

Hard Water can easily be treated before it damages fixtures and appliances in your home

Hard water is water that has a high mineral content (water with a low mineral content is known as soft water). This content usually consists of high levels of metal ions, mainly calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) in the form of carbonates, but may include several other metals as well as bicarbonates and sulfates. While it is not generally dangerous to safety or health, it does generally cause potentially costly nuisance problems in the home and in industry.

The simplest way to determine if water is hard or soft is the lather/froth test. If the water is very soft,soap will tend to lather up easily when agitated, whereas with water that is hard will not. Toothpaste will also not froth well in water that is hard. For many uses, including drinking (aside from the taste), it does not matter whether water is hard or soft. For instance, to put out fires, water a lawn, or wash the mud off the streets, water would have to be very hard to cause a problem. But for bathing, washing dishes and clothes, shaving, washing a car and many other uses of water, Hard Water is not as efficient or convenient as soft water.

Hardness in water can cause lime scale deposits in kettles, washing machines and pipes. Earlier generations coined the phrase ‘hard water’ because it made cleaning difficult.

Hardness is caused by compounds of calcium and magnesium. All freshwater sources contain calcium and magnesium in varying quantities. Water dissolves, suspends, and/or exchanges certain trace elements and compounds from many things that it contacts on its travels. Water hardness usually measures the total concentration of Calcium and Magnesium, the two most prevalent divalent metal-ions, although in some geographical locations, iron, aluminum, and maganese may also be present at elevated levels. The deposit of calcium carbonate (also called lime, limescale, etc.) left after hard water has evaporated from a surface is often referred to as ‘hard water’ even though no water is present.

Types of water hardness: A common distinction is made between ‘temporary’ and ‘permanent’ hardness. there are also common types of hardness in water depending on the ion found in the water.

Temporary hardness: Temporary hardness is hardness that can be removed by boiling or by the addition of lime (calcium hydroxide). It is caused by a combination of calcium ions and bicarbonate ions in the water. Boiling, which promotes the formation of carbonate from the bicarbonate, will precipitate calcium carbonate out of solution, leaving water that is less hard on cooling. It should be noted that the above explanation is an oversimplification of the process that is occurring. The following equilibrium reaction actually happens when calcium carbonate is “dissolved” in water.

Permanent hardness: Permanent hardness is hardness (mineral content) that cannot be removed by boiling. It is usually caused by the presence of calcium and magnesium sulfates and/or chlorides in the water, which become more soluble as the temperature rises. The use of a Hard Water Filter or a Hard Water Bullet will reduce the hard water deposits and make clean up much easier without the use of chemicals or salt.

Problems caused by hardness in water: While hard water is not generally unhealthy (see below), it can cause many potentially costly problems.Hard water causes scaling, which is the precipitation of minerals to form a rock-hard deposit called lime scale. Scale can clog pipes and can decrease the life of toilet flushing units by 70% and water taps by 40%. It can coat the inside of tea and coffee pots, and clog and ruin water heaters. In the home environment, hard water requires more soap and synthetic detergents for laundry and washing. It takes half as much soap for cleaning with conditioned water. Hard water and soap combine to form “soap scum” that can’t be rinsed off, forming a “bathtub ring” on all surfaces, and it dries leaving unsightly spots on dishes. Using soap on the body in hard water can cause the formation of a scum often referred to as “curd.” The formation of scum and curd is caused when calcium and magnesium form insoluble salts found in soaps. This curd remains on the skin even after rinsing, clogging pores and coating body. This can serve as a medium for bacterial growth, causing nappy rash, minor skin irritation and skin that looks dry and continually itches. Similarly, the insoluble salts that get left behind from using regular shampoo in hard water tend to leave hair rougher and harder to untangle. In industry, hard water contributes to scaling in boilers,cooling towers and other industrial equipment. In these industrial settings, water hardness must be constantly monitored to avoid costly breakdowns. Hardness is controlled by addition of chemicals and by large-scale softening with zeolite resins. Hard Water is calcium.

Softening: A water softener works on the principle of an ion exchange in which ions of the hardness minerals are exchanged for sodium , effectively reducing the concentration of hardness minerals to tolerable levels. The most common way to condition and treat household water (I’m clearly not saying the best…)is with an ion exchange water softener. This unit uses sodium chloride (table salt) to recharge beads made of ion exchange resin that exchange hardness mineral ions for sodium ions. Artificial or natural zeolites can also be used. As the water passes through and around the beads, the hardness mineral ions are preferentially absorbed, displacing the sodium ions. This process is called ion exchange. When the bead or sodium zeolite has a low concentration of sodium ions left, it is exhausted, and can no longer soften water. The resin is recharged by flushing (often back-flushing) with saltwater. The high excess concentration of sodium ions alter the equilibrium between the ions in solution and the ions held on the surface of the resin, resulting in replacement of the hardness mineral ions on the resin or zeolite with sodium ions. The resulting saltwater and mineral ion solution is then rinsed away, and the resin is ready to start the process all over again. This cycle can be repeated many times. One problem here is that water softeners are being banned in some large city’s because of the pollution they create, and more are expected to follow suite. Read this report about why Water’s softeners are being banned in several large city’s in the USA.

Water hardness in the USA: According to the United States Geological Survey, 85% of US homes have hardness in their water. The softest waters occur in parts of the New England, South Atlantic-Gulf, Pacific Northwest, and Hawaii regions. Moderately harder waters are common in many of the rivers of the Tennessee, Great Lakes, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska regions. Hard and very hard waters are found in some of the streams in most of the regions throughout the country. Hardest waters (greater than 1,000 mg/L) are in streams in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona, and southern California. We believe that you will find that Salt Free Water Conditioners are a better choice and much better solution to solving your water problems, and we know that after you do your research, you will think so too.

Home Water Softening
Frequently Asked Questions

Download a print version of this page:
Home Water Softening: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

What is soft water?

Water naturally has a variety of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Whether a water supply is considered “hard” or “soft” depends on how much of these minerals are in your water. Soft water contains lower levels of calcium and/or magnesium than hard water.

Do I need to soften my water?

There is no requirement to soften your water. The decision to soften is a personal choice that can affect your home and the environment. If your water’s hardness is greater than 7 grains per gallon or 120 mg/L, then you might need a water softener to ensure your appliances run well and to improve the taste, smell, or look of your water.

Understand the hardness of your water

To decide if you need a home water softener, learn about the hardness of your home’s water. You can measure the hardness of your water using a test kit or an independent laboratory. Search for labs at Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program. If you get your water from a community water system, you can contact them directly for information about your water’s hardness.

Advantages of home water softening

  • Prevents build-up of minerals (scale) on the inside of pipes, fixtures, and hot water heaters.
  • Lengthens the life of some appliances.
  • Reduces or prevents mineral spots on glassware.
  • Prevents or reduces soap films and detergent curds in sinks, bathtubs, and washing machines.

Disadvantages of home water softening

  • Can corrode your pipes. The corroded metal from the pipes can end up in your water. This can contribute to elevated lead and copper levels in drinking water.
  • Potential health effects from additional sodium.
  • Regular testing of the water and maintenance of the softener is necessary to make sure the softener is working properly.
  • Negative impacts to the environment from salt use.
  • The water used to regenerate the softener beads ends up as waste.

How do home softeners work?

Home water softeners, also called ion exchange units, are appliances that remove calcium, magnesium, and other minerals from drinking water. Resin beads inside the softener trap the calcium and magnesium and exchange them for sodium or potassium. Once the resin beads become full of calcium and magnesium, a highly-concentrated salt or potassium solution removes the calcium and magnesium from the beads. After passing through the beads, the resulting chloride solution becomes a waste stream that goes down the drain and ultimately into the environment.

If I have a home softener, how do I use it correctly?

Make sure you have your softener installed and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Read the manufacturer’s instructions before adding any chemicals to the unit. Maintaining your softener will keep your water quality stable. This will help prevent issues with corrosion. In addition:

  • If you get your water from a community water system, check to see if your community already softens the water. Soft water provided by a utility does not need additional softening and may cause corrosion issues for your home.
  • Make sure the softener is set to the hardness of your water supply. If the hardness is set too high, the softener will cost more to operate and waste water, costing you extra money.
  • If your home has new copper plumbing, do not run the water softener for at least the first few weeks you use water at your house. This will help the plumbing form a protective mineral layer to reduce the risk of consuming excess copper. Learn more about Copper in Drinking Water.
  • Make sure that the softener is filled with sodium or potassium chloride following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Soften only what you need to. People often choose to soften showers, sinks, and laundry hookups. Toilets, hose bibs, basement sinks, and other cold water taps typically do not need to be connected to a softener. In many cases, people choose to soften only the hot water.
  • Depending on your water quality, some softeners may be able to fully or partially remove copper, iron, manganese, and radium, in addition to calcium and magnesium. Note that copper can reenter the water after if leaves the softener and passes through your home’s pipes and plumbing. These softeners may have special filter media and may cost more than typical softeners. Before using a softener for this purpose, follow the recommendations listed at Home Water Treatment.

Check your manufacturer’s instructions for dealing with these issues:

  • Clogging: If your water supply is cloudy, it may clog the resin in the softener with mud and clay. Backwashing will typically solve this problem. Adding a sediment filter before the softener could also help.
  • Iron or manganese fouling: Iron or manganese that has been exposed to air or chlorine can clog the resin and prevent it from working. This is known as fouling. Sometimes it may be necessary to filter the water before it gets to your softener to prevent fouling. Commercial cleaners are available if the resin becomes fouled. Cleaners need to be used according to manufacturer instructions to avoid contamination.
  • Bacteria and fungi: If your water supply is not disinfected prior to softening, bacteria and fungi can potentially grow on the surface. This can reduce the effectiveness of your softener.

What are the health effects of home softening?

A water softener that uses sodium chloride (salt) increases the amount of sodium in the water you drink at home. Consider the following if you have a home softener:

  • If you or someone in your home has a history of high blood pressure, consult a doctor about drinking softened water.
  • You can decrease the amount of sodium you drink:
    • Have an un-softened tap for cooking and drinking.
    • Regenerate your softener with potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride (salt). Potassium chloride is available at most stores that sell softener salt.

The calcium, iron, and magnesium removed by softening are not harmful and may be beneficial sources of essential elements needed by the body. Removing them from your water may mean you will have to get more of them from your diet.

What are the environmental impacts of home softening?

Minnesota has a growing problem with chloride in water. Chloride in water threatens our fresh-water fish and other aquatic life. The chloride used in home water softeners can also affect the water used for drinking. It takes only one teaspoon of sodium chloride salt to permanently pollute five gallons of water. Once salt is in water, there is no easy way to remove it.

In some communities, home water softeners drain to municipal wastewater treatment plants, which are not designed to remove chloride. The chloride passes through the treatment plant and ends up in our lakes and streams. In homes with private wells and home softeners, chloride drains to the home’s septic system and then ends up in lakes and streams.

Additional resources

  • Chloride (salts)
  • Home Water Treatment
  • Water Softening

Hard water is highly beneficial to our health due to the minerals, but it can also cause trouble in the home. For example, the minerals can cause reduced water flow and clog appliances, leading to faded laundry (1). Luckily, there are multiple ways to soften your hard water, which we’ll discuss.

Many homeowners worry about softening their water due to higher sodium content; however, there are ways to avoid this. Added sodium can be dangerous for people on a low- or no-sodium diet due to health concerns such as elevated blood pressure (2). If this applies to you, please take extra caution about softening water.

How to Know if You Have Hard Water

Many states across the U.S. have moderate to very hard water. These include Florida, Utah, and California. As water enters the ground, it runs through mineral-rich soil and rock. Calcium and magnesium carbonates are then dissolved into the water, which gives it its hardness (3).

When the water travels through pipes and into our home, the minerals can create limescale and other mineral build-up. You might’ve noticed white spots or marks around water fixtures or on your dishes. These are dried mineral deposits that come from the water — they’re not dangerous, although they can be frustrating and unsightly.

Here are a few other signs you have hard water:

  • Reduced water flow: Due to mineral buildup in the spout and pipes, you might notice reduced water flow.
  • Higher energy bills: Since your appliances have to work harder due to limescale, your energy bills could be higher (4).
  • Dry hair and skin: The minerals can cause your hair to become dry and difficult to style. The same can happen to your skin — you could be seeing mineral deposits on your skin after a shower (5).
  • Soap is less efficient: Minerals affect soap and shampoo quite significantly, decreasing suds and lather and creating soap scum that’s difficult to wash off (6). Your laundry could lose color and not be cleaned as efficiently because the minerals prevent water and detergent from foaming (7).
  • Test your water: You can quickly test your water to see if it’s hard. Fill a bottle halfway with water and add three squirts of dish soap. Shake it well and inspect the foam; if it dissolves quickly, your water is hard.

How to Soften Hard Water

The basics of softening water are removing the minerals that cause the hardness, such as calcium and magnesium. There are several effective methods to do this. However, your chosen method depends on whether you want all the water in your house treated, or only specific points.

1. Ion-Exchange

Ion-exchange water softening is the most effective method for a whole house. These systems generally come with two tanks:

  • Resin tank.
  • Brine tank.

There are also systems available that come with dual tanks. This will reduce downtime when the system regenerates by having an additional resin tank ready.

Resin Tank

This is where the hard water enters the system. The water comes in contact with tiny salt-covered resin beads. As water surrounds these beads, hardness ions (magnesium and calcium) are exchanged for salt ions, i.e. potassium or sodium ions (8). Salt and hardness ions simply trade places.

Keep in mind

Because of the higher salt content, softened water isn’t recommended for people with cardiovascular issues (9).

When the system treats larger amounts of water, the beads become saturated with hardness ions — also known as being “exhausted.” When this happens, the beads in the brine tank need to be recharged.

Brine Tank

Think of recharging as softening in reverse. The salt trades places with hardness ions and minerals are flushed out of a wastewater drain. You revive it by adding bags of salt to the brine tank.

There are three types of water softener salt you can add:

  • Rock salt: This is the cheapest kind; however, it does contain more insoluble materials, which can cause a buildup inside the tank and valves, and need more frequent cleaning.
  • Evaporated salt: Evaporated salt is finer and entirely purified. An example of this type is table salt.
  • Solar salt: Solar salt is extracted from a brine pond, which is warmed by the sun. As the water evaporates, it leaves behind purified salt crystals.
Which Salt is Best?
  • Small usage requirement: If your system only produces small amounts of soft water, a buildup won’t be as likely. Here, rock salt is a good option if you’re on a budget.
  • Large usage requirement: If your system generates a large amount of soft water, an eventual buildup is more likely. In this case, solar or evaporated salt is the best choice.
  • General best option: Solar and evaporated salts are the best option for ion-exchange systems. However, that doesn’t mean rock salt is useless. It depends on the usage of your water softener.

2. Demand Initiated Regeneration System

A Demand Initiated Regeneration system is one of the most common water softeners sold. These can measure regular water usage and regenerate only when needed. Some of these systems can be operated on a timer to be scheduled for specific hours (10).

One downside to some of these systems is that they can leave you short of water during high-demand periods. But they’re also not very eco-friendly — as the ions are traded, a very salty brine is discharged into the sewer system.

3. Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) or Nucleation Assisted Crystallization (NAC)

These systems soften water without the use of salt, making them a healthier option to ion-exchange. But are they any better (11)?

Take Note

Salt-free softeners aren’t actually softeners. They’re often referred to as water conditioners or water descalers. Minerals remain in the water, making it tricky to measure if the water is softer (12).

TAC and NAC systems won’t remove minerals from the water. Instead, they change the minerals’ form so they can’t stick to any surface. TAC and NAC systems aren’t actually water softeners; they’re water conditioners.

The water runs through a TAC medium, where the mineral hardness is converted into a crystal that is unable to adhere to any surface (13). When testing the water for hardness before and after treatment, you’ll receive the same results. The hardness and minerals stay — but they can longer produce limescale or mineral buildup.

These don’t require any electricity, salt or water to work. One of the many benefits of TAC and NAC systems is the presence of beneficial minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. With an ion-exchange system, these are replaced by salts — but be aware that excess sodium can be very dangerous to our health, leading to high blood pressure and other issues (14).

If you’re looking to be more environmentally-friendly, TAC systems are the way to go, especially since they don’t require energy or water either.

One of the more prominent drawbacks of TAC and NAC systems is that the hardness will still be present. You will see brighter laundry and fewer stains on surfaces, but the results won’t match those of salt exchangers.

4. Chelation Systems

A chelation system is also a salt-free water conditioner similar to TAC. With these systems, the mineral ions will adhere to a chelating agent such as nitriloacetic acid (15). This causes the minerals to be suspended in the water, which makes this system a descaler, rather than softener.

Such a system won’t reduce hard minerals but will keep them from being deposited as scale. This results in less buildup of limescale and minerals.

What makes this an excellent option is that it leaves the healthy minerals, such as calcium, in the water, while still preventing scale. If you’re on a low-sodium diet, a salt-free system is best. If any limescale or buildup were to happen, it would be easier to remove since the hard ions can’t stick to any surface.

However, similar to TAC and NAC systems, chelation isn’t as effective as ion-exchange when removing “hardness.” This is because the chelating agent doesn’t remove minerals; it simply softens them (16). The effects are significantly reduced but are likely still present to some extent.

5. Magnetic or Electronic Water Softener

One of the newer water softening systems is a magnetic or electronic softener or descaler. These devices are plugged into an outlet and clip conveniently onto an indoor pipe where the water enters the house.

They work by setting up magnetic fields that change the electromagnetic properties of the minerals. This causes the carbonates to repel each other and the pipes, reducing the formation of scale and buildup.

However, these devices have received much criticism. Studies have found that these softeners made no difference to the water compared to ion-exchange softeners (17).

But then again, these devices aren’t supposed to remove hardness ions, like the ion-exchange system. They will simply change the electromagnetic properties of the calcium and magnesium carbonate so that they don’t cause buildup.

You can find these softeners on Amazon, such as this from Eddy. However, we highly suggest caution when investing in such a device. Some consumers were extremely pleased with the results, while others saw no difference.

6. Reverse Osmosis System

You might be feeling confused as to why we include RO on this list, but hear us out. A reverse osmosis system forces water through multiple fine filters. This will remove any solid contaminants such as chemicals and organic materials — it will also filter out calcium and magnesium ions (18).

Reverse osmosis systems are an excellent choice if you want soft, contaminant-free water without added salt. However, RO systems will only provide water for one point in your home, unless you install several devices. The iSpring system is a common choice among consumers — it’s an under-sink filter that connects straight to the faucet.

A drawback of a reverse osmosis system is the fact that it increases water usage. It also requires regular cleaning to ensure the safety of the water — a dirty filter is worse than no filter!

Keep in mind

Due to the fine filters, all nutritious minerals will be removed from the water. This is not healthy in the long run since you’ll be missing essential minerals. Eating a balanced diet will ensure your body gets what it needs (19).

7. Showerhead Filter

If you’re feeling the aftermath of hard minerals on your body, such as dry skin, a showerhead filter could be beneficial. These are easily installed in the shower and will filter contaminants and minerals as the water leaves the faucet.

A showerhead filter can also limit limescale by removing minerals, which can clog the water holes and reduce water flow (20). You will also feel cleaner as soap scum won’t be formed — your skin and hair will surely thank you for the investment.

Quick Comparison

Now that we’ve seen some of the various ways to soften your water, you might be feeling overwhelmed. Here’s a quick comparison between the different systems:

  • Salt-based: Ion-exchange systems are the most common, most effective water softeners available. They consist of two tanks: one filled with resin beads and tap water, the other with brine. They replace hardness ions (magnesium and calcium) with salt ions (sodium or potassium). You recharge the water by adding salt to the brine tank.
  • Dual-tank: Most ion-exchange systems will require several hours to regenerate after you add salt. This means you and your family might be out of water for some time. New systems will have two resin tanks, so you’ll have ready water at any time, even while the other regenerates.
  • Salt-free: These softeners are actually conditioners, and include TAC, NAC, and chelation systems. They don’t remove calcium or magnesium, but they change their form so they’re unable to adhere to any surface. These devices are effective at reducing limescale and will improve water quality while maintaining the health benefits of the minerals.
  • Magnetic softeners: This type of softener is controversial, with many saying they work but the rest not seeing a difference. They work by setting up a magnetic field which changes the magnetic field of the carbonates, repelling them from each other and the pipes.

How to Combat Hard Water Effects in Appliances

People living in hard water areas might be concerned about how their appliances are affected.

Devices such as water heaters and dishwashers require a significant amount of water to work efficiently. However, if limescale or minerals are blocking the pipes, the volume of water going into the machines is significantly reduced. This requires the appliance to work harder, resulting in more energy being used and a higher chance of a breakdown.

Luckily, there are ways you can combat these adverse effects:

  • Water heaters: This appliance is especially vulnerable to mineral buildup due to the high temperature within the tank and pipes. The best way to help your heater is by installing a water softener to remove all minerals.
  • Washing machines and dishwashers: Using a lower temperature in these appliances can reduce mineral buildup. Insoluble carbons are left behind as the water is heated and evaporated (21). Using a lower temperature can avoid this effect. You can also use a non-precipitating water conditioner for your laundry. These will trap minerals during the wash, preventing them from binding to your clothes and machine.
  • Coffee makers and kettles: An effective way to avoid scale is by using bottled water instead of tap, since bottled water isn’t classified as hard.

The Take-Away

Choosing a water softener can be tricky if it’s your first time looking into a softening solution.

Firstly, consider how hard your water is and how you’d like it to change. If you want all minerals gone, choose an ion-exchange system.

However, if you want to reduce the effects of hard water, but still benefit from healthy minerals, salt-free systems such as TAC are an excellent solution.

If you’re only dealing with moderately hard water, installing a filter, such as reverse osmosis, is better and cheaper.

You might think that hard water, which is naturally rich in minerals, would be a good thing. While hard water isn’t inherently bad, it can become a nuisance for homeowners.

That’s because hard water contributes to mineral buildup in pipes, on faucets, and on shower heads, leaving us running to buy a descaling product at the hardware store. Adding to the annoyances, hard water can leave unsightly water spots on dishes, make fresh laundry feel stiff, and leave your hair feeling greasy.

If hard water has you at your wit’s end, fear not, Florida homeowner. Read on to learn what exactly hard water is, how to test for hard water, and how you can soften the water in your home.

What Is Hard Water?

Water that’s considered “hard” contains high levels of calcium and magnesium, along with other metals and minerals. The good news is that hard water is in no way harmful or dangerous. The bad news is that hard water can cause scale buildup in your home’s pipes or any system in your home that uses water.

Hard water may not be harmful or dangerous, but it is a nuisance. Any homeowner with hard water can tell you how frustrating it can be when your dishes have watermarks, your laundry doesn’t feel quite clean, and your shampoo won’t lather!

Water hardness is typically reported in milligrams per liter (mg/L) as calcium carbonate as follows:

  • Soft water: 0 – 60 mg/L
  • Moderately hard water: 61 – 120 mg/L
  • Hard water: 121 – 180 mg/L
  • Very hard water: 180 mg/L or higher

How To Test For Hard Water

Most owners are all too aware that they have hard water in their home. But if you’re not sure if you’re dealing with hard water or another issue, there are a few different ways you can test for hard water in your home.

1. Perform an easy soap test

Take a clean glass or plastic bottle with a tight-fitting lid. Fill the bottle ⅓ of the way with water from the faucet, aiming for 10 ounces. Add 10 drops of dishwashing liquid and shake well.

Did the water get soapy quickly? Is the water below the layer of suds relatively clean? If so, your water is likely fairly soft. If the water did not get soapy, or if it only created a shallow layer of suds with cloudy water underneath, your water is likely hard.

2. Buy A Hard Water Test Kit From The Hardware Store

Many hardware stores sell DIY kits that test for hard water. When looking for kits, make sure it specifically says it tests for water, since some only test for overall quality and safety.

Many of the test kits will be simple wet-strip tests, much like you would use to test the water in a pool or spa. Depending on the test kit you buy, you will likely fill a container with water from the faucet, set the test strip in the water, and compare the resulting color with the test kit’s chart.

3. Call The City And Get The Facts

If your home’s water comes from the city or municipal supply, you can call the water utility and ask for a water quality report. You may even be able to find the report online. Most reports are fairly technical, but they can provide an idea of how hard the water is in your area.

How To Soften The Water In Your Home

There are numerous ways you can soften the water in your home depending on your needs. For example, boiling water will remove some of its hardness as will certain ion exchange filters that attach to faucets. Adding non-precipitating conditioner to your laundry can help avoid your clothes from feeling starchy and using vinegar while cleaning your dishes can reduce water spots.

While these will all offer some relief from hard water, we highly recommend investing in a water softener as this will soften the water in your entire home easily.

What Is A Water Softener And How Does It Work?

Put simply, a water softener is a special type of filter. The filter works to remove calcium and magnesium in hard water via plastic beads. Water softeners routinely clean themselves through a process called regeneration.

Water softeners typically have these three components:

  • A mineral tank: This is where the water filtration takes place and the hard water is softened.
  • A brine tank: This is where a salt or potassium solution is stored.
  • A control valve: This is the device that controls the flow of water in and out of the mineral and brine tanks during the regeneration process.

The water is softened and incoming hard water passes through plastic beads (typically made of polystyrene) in the mineral tank. The plastic beads have a negative charge, which attracts the positively-charged minerals from the water. Now, you have beautiful softened water.

Investing In the Right Water Softener for Your Home

So, you’ve decided to invest in a water softener – but how do you choose which one to buy? Let’s start with the basics.

Ion-Exchange Water Softener

One of the most common types of water softeners is an ion-exchange. This type of water softener replaces the calcium and magnesium in the water with salt, potassium, or hydrogen.

This type of water softener contains a mineral tank and brine tank. The hard water passes through the mineral tank bed and the hard mineral ions are exchanged for sodium, potassium, or hydrogen ions. Once the mineral tank bed is saturated with the hard minerals, the system goes through the regeneration cycle which flushes a brine solution throughout. The hard minerals are then washed down the drain and the process starts again.

Things To Consider

With these systems, the softened water will contain either sodium, potassium, or hydrogen. Sodium is used due to its availability and low cost, but individuals who are concerned with their sodium intake or on a low-sodium diet may want to choose another water softening system.

Another consideration is the effect salt can have on the environment. Potassium, although more expensive, is widely considered to be a better option for the environment.

Salt-Free Water Softener

Another type of water softening system to reconsider is a salt-free water softener. These systems don’t use chemicals to remove hard minerals from the water. Instead, these systems use nanotechnology to alter the structure of the molecules in the water so they are no longer scale-building.

Then, the water goes through a filtering media, restructuring the molecules as they flow through the tank. This new structure descales any existing mineral buildup in the plumbing system.

Things To Consider

These systems don’t use chemicals, so they address the issues that arise with the ion-exchange water softeners. These systems also require less maintenance than the others and don’t waste water since there is no regeneration cycle.

Find The Right Water Softener For Your Home At Sansone

Adding a water softening system to your home provides significant benefits. If you’re interested in learning more about the right water softener for your home or want to learn about installation, contact Sansone today. We provide comprehensive plumbing services to South Florida homeowners and beyond and can take care of your hard water woes.

Contact us today to learn more or schedule an appointment online.

Broward: (954) 800-2858
Palm Beach: (561) 701-8274
St. Lucie: (772) 879-5656

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