You may realize that in order to clean your pots and pans you need extra soap. Instead of the soap dissolving in the pan, a “soap curd” lingers on the pan. You may feel it sort of like a greasy substance still on the pan. If you take a shower with hard water, your hair becomes dull and lifeless unless a huge gob of shampoo is used. Washing your clothes becomes an issue too. The fabric of your soft shirts will become stiff and rough because dirt was kept trapped in the fibers. Not only is hard water bad for your clothes, silverware, and skin, it’s bad for the plumbing!
Calcium and magnesium buildup is what can cause a clog. If you are constantly finding yourself unclogging your toilet, it could very well be because of the mineral build ups from hard water. Within your water heater system, a calcium buildup will reduce the life and effectiveness of the water heater that cost you a couple thousand dollars.
So we know we have a calcium and magnesium issue with our water, what next? Installing a water softener. What the water softener does is trade the magnesium and calcium for in most cases, sodium, in what is called an ion exchange.
A water softener contains a mineral tank, which is full of small polystyrene beads. These beads have a negative charge, and magnesium and calcium both carry a positive charge. As hard water passes through the mineral tank, the magnesium and calcium both cling to the beads. After the beads have been saturated with calcium and magnesium, they will need to be replenished in order to effectively soften the water. This is called the recharge phase. A brine solution full of sodium is taken from the brine tank, and passed through the mineral tank that is rich with calcium and magnesium. In this phase, the sodium replaces the calcium and magnesium on the beads, and the other minerals are flushed down the drain. It is safe to flush these minerals down the drain during this phase so do not worry about a mineral deposit forming because of one flush.
Some people complain over a very slight salty taste in the water due to the sodium in the ion exchange. If this is a problem for you, you may use potassium chloride instead of sodium which will remove the taste. Potassium chloride will most likely cost you about three to four times more, so weigh your options carefully.