Living in a home with very hard water can be frustrating. The mineral buildup around faucets and in pipes can cause plumbing issues, and the water can leave behind unsightly stains on glassware and around the shower.
Most people deal with this issue by getting a water softener in California, which removes minerals from the water, making it soft and easy to deal with. There are both salt-based and salt-free softeners, and each one has unique features.
Hard water is water that contains a lot of minerals, especially calcium and magnesium. These minerals are healthy in our diets, but they can cause household problems when they’re present in water.
Hard water can cause something called scaling, which is when the minerals from water leave behind a residue. It can block up pipes and collect around water faucets. A buildup is a serious problem, and it can cause real plumbing issues.
It also tends to leave behind spots on glassware and in the shower. These spots are sometimes very hard to remove, and it’s hard to get a perfect finish when cleaning without them.
Hard water reacts with soap and forms soap scum, a substance that forms spots on shower doors and bathroom counters.
Soft water, on the other hand, contains only trace amounts of minerals. It doesn’t leave residue or cause scaling.
Water hardness is measured on a scale according to the number of grains per gallon, or the number of milligrams per liter. Soft water has less than 60 milligrams per liter, while hard water has 120 or more milligrams per liter.
Soft water is free of the minerals found in hard water. It doesn’t leave behind the same kind of residue, which tends to make cleaning easier.
These minerals can create scale buildup on water supply pipes, for example, which means the pipes won’t be able to carry as much water. Scale also forms on faucets and other household appliances, and it’s hard to remove.
Hard water keeps soap from lathering up the way it normally would. That makes people use more soap than they would otherwise. Mineral-heavy water can make your hair and skin appear duller, because of residue and because of excessive soap.
Soft water prevents an unsightly buildup of minerals in appliances from coffee makers to washing machines. Any water-using appliances are affected by minerals, so softened water actually extends the lifespan of many home goods.
A water softener is an appliance that removes minerals from water, especially calcium and magnesium, which can cause buildup in home appliances.
A softener is different from a filter because it doesn’t focus on removing contaminants or cleaning up drinking water. Instead, it makes water soft, which provides lots of benefits in the home. There are two main types of water softener systems such as salt-based and salt-free.
A traditional salt-based water softener system relies on salt pellets to soften water. Traditional water softeners also contain a resin bed that helps filter out calcium and magnesium.
The resin beads inside the bed hold sodium mineral ions, and as water passes through the resin, it exchanges those with the magnesium and calcium, trapping those ions in the resin bed.
After the minerals are in the bed, the tank goes through a regeneration process in which the tank fills with salt brine and flushes them out. The regeneration cycles prevent hard water from ever entering your home and ensures a steady water flow.
Salt-based water softeners use salts to remove minerals from water. However, they also add significant amounts of either sodium or potassium to it. Some people need to restrict their intake of these minerals for health reasons.
The use of a salt-based water softener system requires huge maintenance, thousands of gallons of water, needs electricity to operate, and provides no filtration—a process we don’t provide.
Another issue with traditional water softeners is that they waste gallons of water during this process.
To complete the process called ion exchange, the water softener tank fills up with a brine wash to replenish the sodium in its resin bed. That process is called regeneration and can use up to 25 gallons of water.
A salt-free water softener works by preventing minerals from adhering to the inside of your pipes and appliances. These softeners are sometimes considered a water softener alternative. They’re a form of water treatment.
Water that is processed this way has the same mineral content as hard water, but it doesn’t cause plumbing problems. Instead of absorbing the minerals and flushing them out during a regeneration cycle, this softener uses potassium to crystalize them. The resulting crystals are too large to adhere to pipes or appliances and cause scale.
These softener systems use potassium chloride instead of salt, and it doesn’t need to be replaced as often. In this way, they’re easier to maintain.
Between salt-based and salt-free softeners, there’s a huge difference in how much water is used. Salt-based options use 20-25 gallons for each cycle to flush out calcium and magnesium.
Salt-free softeners create conditioned water. There are still the same amount of minerals in that water, but they have been crystallized and can’t adhere to surfaces the way they can in hard, untreated water.
This option might be appealing to someone who primarily wants to avoid scaling issues inside pipes.
These softeners are also a good option for those who want to avoid too much salt intake for health reasons. Potassium, the alternative, has health benefits and is also good for plants.
Puragain Water currently services the following cities for salt-free water softeners. If you don’t see your city listed below, you can find out if we provide service in your area. Contact us at Puragain Water today.