Water softening: Is it safe for your health?

Hard water refers to water that contains high mineral content such as calcium and magnesium ions which are more than that of soft water. The water is rich in minerals and has many health benefits. However, it can lead to the breakdown of boilers and other equipment. It also leads to the formation of limescale which mostly occurs in water heaters and kettles. Showers can also clog if you are using hard water. It doesn’t lather easily with soap and leaves a scum. Limescale also damages machines used in laundry. The cost of heating water and maintenance of equipment in turn increases.

beautiful young woman drinking water in the morning

Water softeners are used to remove these minerals that cause water to be hard. Water softening is the bonding together of tiny impurities in water. It has many benefits, for instance, the cost of heating greatly reduces. Maintenance and other applications that use water can last longer because breakdowns are reduced. Less scaling and spotting is also observed when the mineral components in hard water are reduced or completely removed.

ppm in water

Parts per million (ppm) is used to calculate the degree of hardness in water, denoting the amount of minerals dissolved in it. There are various categories derived from this:

  • very hard water
  • hard water
  • soft water
  • moderately soft water

Soft water has less than 75 ppm of minerals that is dissolved in it. The low minerals are an advantage as the water is more pleasant to drink and lathers with soap more easily. With this type of water, softening should not be an issue as it isn’t necessary.

The ppm of minerals dissolved in moderately soft water is 75-100. It is not very convenient in cleaning as it leaves residues. It also has an unpleasant taste. Most people who use it usually prefer to soften it.

Hard water, on the other hand, has about 150-300 ppm minerals that are dissolved in it. It has a stronger unpleasant taste as compared to moderately hard water. As mentioned earlier, it doesn’t lather with soap easily and can lead to limescale in kettles and other equipment being used to hold the water. Water softeners can be used to soften it.

Very hard water is very unpleasant to drink and can lead to vomiting or nausea. This is due to very high concentrations of ppm minerals dissolved in it which can go beyond 300.

How water softeners work

They are specific ion exchanges. They are used to remove ions which are positively charged. Water softeners are designed to mainly remove calcium and magnesium ions. At other times, they are used to remove iron. They collect hardness minerals and drain them away by flushing them out. Ion exchanges used in the process will replace the calcium and magnesium ions to other ions. The resulting ions can be either sodium or potassium.

The cost of softening may differ depending on how efficient the softener is. Softeners can either use electricity or water power. Even if the process is expensive, it can’t be compared to the cost incurred when using hard water, which is higher.

Salt-free softeners are highly recommended. It is because a salt-based softener may result in soft water that has a very high content of sodium and it is not good for the health of the body. You can use potassium chloride to soften your water but it will cost you much more than when you are using a salt-based one. You can always refer to our list with 5 Solutions for Softening Hard Water.

Drinking softened water

The intake of soft water can feel good and comfortable but it can have adverse effects on your health. The salt content in soft water may be higher than that of hard water; this is because salt is mostly used to remove minerals from hard water. The increased sodium level may lead to problems for people affected by too much salt intake. Soft water is not recommended for people trying to reduce the intake of sodium in their diets.

During the process of removal of the essential minerals found in hard water, the health benefit of the water is reduced. Taking soft water, therefore, means fewer intakes of minerals. The lost minerals are beneficial to the body. Research has proven that even consumption of foods rich in minerals similar to those found in hard water is not enough and can’t be compared to the benefits of taking hard water itself. Mineral imbalance in the body can also result. Health risks can follow; osteoporosis, heart disease, and gastrointestinal issues are the most common.

The process of softening hard water can make it become so acidic. The ph balance of the body is affected by drinking this kind of water.

Water that is softened leads to leaching of metals. It is recommended that you should never consume or cook using warm or hot soft water from the tank. This is because you could be consuming very high levels of heavy metals and they could lead to detrimental effects on your health. Lead can cause poisoning in children. Continuous intake of dissolved lead metals leads to weakening of the central nervous system which could later result in a coma, convulsions or even death.

Although soft water might be preferred by most people due to the challenges encountered when using hard water, the possible negative health effects of taking soft water are enormous. Softening water the right way using less harmful chemicals could help if you really want to use soft water.

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