Water contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium. The difference between hard water and soft water returns to the amount of these minerals. In the case of having an excess amount of these minerals, we have hard water, and if we have a low level of these minerals, the water is known as soft water.
Disadvantages of hard water
Hard water has several disadvantages, which are as follows:
- Hard water doesn’t produce lather with soap. How? The presence of fatty acids in the water makes the soup lather. If these fatty acids react with calcium and magnesium, they are no longer able to produce lather.
- If you use hard water in cooking, it takes more time for the meal to be cooked. Because it takes more time for the water to get to the boiling point.
- Hard water can cause dry skin and hair loss. The minerals in hard water form a thin layer on the hair and skin and don’t let them attract moisture. As a result, they become dry.
History of water softening
The first water softening system was invented by Thomas Clark in the 1830s. That method relied on adding calcium hydroxide to the hard water. It raises the pH and causes the precipitation of calcium hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide. These materials cannot dissolve in water anymore. Nowadays, we can find many water softener systems on the market. But the basis is equal; all of them are working by ion exchanging processes.
Types of water softening systems
There are two kinds of water softening system: with salt or without salt.
Salt based softening systems
The machines that contain salt are more effective. The resin that exists in these systems contains sodium ions, and these ions can be replaced with calcium and magnesium.
“Ion exchange is a process in which ions of like charge are exchanged between the solid resin phase and the water phase. The ion-exchange softening method uses sodium which is exchanged for calcium and magnesium ions”
- Monovalent ions like sodium are not able to make hard water, so there is no problem exchanging other minerals with sodium and potassium ions.
- Salt-based softening systems are more common and effective than other types of water softening systems.
- These are a good choice you need a water softener for home.
However, the disadvantage of these systems is that they should be recharged with salt.
Salt-free softening systems
On the other hand, salt-free systems don’t remove minerals from water. They just don’t let them build up on faucets by conditioning the water.
- In these systems, polyphosphates like sodium tripolyphosphate can be used as a water conditioner to condition the water instead of removing minerals.
- Salt-free water softener systems cost more than the other type.
Advantage and disadvantages of water softening systems
They are able to prevent the buildup of minerals and, as a result, increase the popularity of appliances. It can also prevent the formation of spots on glassware. But you should pay attention to the fact that they can make your pipes corrosive and affect your health because of the extra amount of sodium.
The bottom line
Hard waters are those that contain an excess of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Hard water makes the hair and skin dry. And has many other disadvantages, so it is important to use a water softening system. The basis of the water softening process is ion exchange. In one kind of system, we need salts such as sodium to be exchanged with calcium and magnesium and the complex removed from water. But in the other system, we are not removing the mineral ions; we just want to condition the water. Sometimes using polyphosphate compounds such as sodium tripolyphosphate is a good way to condition water.
Frequently asked questions
What is the disadvantage of a water softener?
Corrosive pipes in your house. Also, potential problems may happen because of the extra amount of sodium, which can be one of the disadvantages of using a water softening system.
Can you drink softened water?
Yes, drinking softened water is a great choice. However, you should pay attention to the fact that hard water contains an extra amount of sodium ions.
Are water softeners worth it?
Using soft water has an important role in skin and hair health.
How does a soft water system work?
The basis of a water softener is the ion exchange process. There are two kinds of water softeners; one of them contains salt and the other is salt-free.