Can you drink water from a water softener
Last updated on: February 1, 2024.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not stipulated a legal standard for hardness levels in water because hard minerals like calcium and magnesium are not proven to be toxic or harmful to health. However, these minerals also cause other inconveniences.
Hard water makes baths and showers uncomfortable because the water doesn’t lather enough and needs more soap. That leaves a filmy residue on the skin, making it feel dry and itchy. The same is true of shampoos because the hair begins to feel dry and brittle.
Over and above these issues, hard water affects all household appliances, plumbing systems, etc. The pipes, taps, showerheads, washing machines, and heaters have a limescale build-up that can affect them, leading to quicker wear and tear.
Since there has been not enough data to prove that hard water is harmful to health, the question arises. Is it environmentally friendly to buy and install a water softener system? We will discuss this in detail and recommend the best water softener that is also eco-friendly.
Are water softeners bad for the environment?
While more households are investing in water softeners to handle their hard water problems, they are also becoming a concern. Some states and municipalities are setting forth regulations, especially if they are ion-exchange water softeners.
How salt-based water softeners impact the environment
Salt-based water softeners use sodium chloride to soften water through an ion-exchange process. The brine solution is released from water softeners, and too much of it can affect streams, rivers, and aquifers. It is particularly harmful in areas that already have excess salt as part of an agricultural runoff or salts applied on roads.
Water softeners also need to flush out brine solutions during regeneration. According to EPA, an ion-exchange water softener uses around 25 gallons of water per day.
This is why the EPA put forth some standards to limit the amount of chloride released into the environment.
However, studies also show that the small amounts of salt that gets into your water supply are not enough to cause ill health unless you are on a sodium-restricted diet or have some skin condition that is worsened because of softened water.
Water softeners also impact the environment based on the location, i.e., if you live in a region with drought or high levels of road salt, using a water softener may be adding to the problem.
What kind of water softener is best for the environment?
The best water softener for the environment is one that is energy-efficient. That means the system must promote energy and reduce the carbon footprint when compared to other products in the market. Water softeners help reduce energy usage and save water by reducing the length of wash cycles. They also reduce or eliminate hard minerals that get deposited in our plumbing systems and appliances. Thus, they ensure a longer lifespan for our appliances and plumbing system, and they help the carbon footprint to a large extent.
Are there alternatives to water softeners?
Those who are conscious of the environment and want to reduce their carbon footprint look for alternatives to deal with their hard water problems. Some of these alternatives include:
Anti-scale magnetic water treatment
Water is passed through a magnetic field to reduce or eliminate hardness-causing minerals. It is a new technology that continues to evolve as rarer earth agents are being found.
Electronic descaling water softening system
The electronic descaling unit uses a different technology where a device is wrapped around a pipe to send electric impulses into the water, which in turn causes the hard minerals to float away through the drain.
Salt-free water conditioning system
The fact that they don’t use salt or an ion-exchange process makes these units water conditioners, not softeners. Instead of removing the hard minerals, they alter the minerals into tiny crystals. The hard minerals get dissolved over time.
These salt-free water treatment systems can be used as alternatives if you would like to do your bit for the environment.
Best Water softener alternative:
After researching and studying the alternatives to water softening systems, we have found that the best water softener alternative is the Capacitive Electronic Descaler System. It is a salt-free system that can be used for the whole house and reduces limescale build-up dramatically.
It uses a patented water descaler system that treats hard water. It treats the water by generating electric pulses from inside the electronic unit, which is controlled by a micro-chip. These pulses use the ultra-flat impulse bands for transmission as these bands get wrapped around the pipes. They change the crystals in the water, allowing them to break down into tiny particles that eventually float through the drain.
This Capacitive Electronic Descaler System is easy to install and needs a minimum of ten inches of free pipe space with a maximum diameter of one inch. You can install it yourself, and it is 100% maintenance-free.
The best part of this descaler is that it does not eliminate the minerals but prevents them from forming scale deposits. There is no salt usage and no water wastage.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Is water softener resin harmful?
The resin used in salt-based water softeners that enable the exchange of sodium for hard minerals is not toxic. The resin beads stay on the bed, and each resin is charged with sodium chloride to swap with calcium and magnesium during the ion-exchange process.
Resin beads are small plastic spheres that have positively charged sodium ions. Water softeners use these resin beads to soften the water; occasionally, these beads can escape into our pipes. But, they are not harmful to health. However, they may clog the narrow outlets in pipes and other fixtures.
2. Will the water softener water damage the grass?
For one thing, it may seem wasteful if you use soft water to water your lawns or plants. And the brine solution that gets flushed out of the water softener may have high concentrations of salt that are not good for your garden.
If you live in an area with high rainfall, the salt water may not make a big difference as it will be mitigated with rainwater.
3. Can softened water harm birds?
When softened by a water softener, water loses its hard minerals and has sodium. Vets recommend that excess salts in water be avoided. An overload of sodium means that the salt crystals dry on the skin and can destroy birds’ feathers over time.
While drinking the softened water may not be toxic, birds do retain the salt from soft water.
4. What are the health effects of home softening?
Most homeowners install water softeners that supply softened water throughout their homes. The ion-exchange process in these water softening units replaces hard minerals like calcium and magnesium with sodium. This means that sodium is added to the water for bathing, cooking and drinking, or cleaning.
Generally, the amount of sodium is minimal because one mg/L of calcium carbonate hardness removed contributes only 0.46mg/L of sodium. However, if a family member is hypertensive, i.e., has high blood pressure, they are required to cut down on salt intake. Therefore, softened water may not be healthy for those on a low-sodium diet.
Water softening systems are more common than you would think. With the increasing need for safe drinking water, and people moving to various areas for work, it is not always possible to find pure or safe water for home use.
While there is no scientific proof that hard water is toxic, high hardness levels can be a nuisance. Moreover, the question arises as to whether yet another appliance using energy is good for the environment.
With a water softening system, you have the additional issue of flushing brine solution into the ground through the drain. Do we need to add to the other factors that are harming our natural resources? The answer lies with you.
Water softening has become necessary in some regions, and one has to find other ways to compensate for any harm these units may cause. In the final analysis, only you can answer your conscience and balance it with your family’s needs.
About The Author
Judith— a passionate water treatment specialist — is a waste water management enthusiast, clean drinking water advocate, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about various water equipments. Her work was mentioned in countless notable water associations. Previously she was an editor at Water Alliance.