Many people are familiar with the various pros and cons of hard water and soft water. However, many of those interested in installing a water softener or water conditioner in their home may still be curious about the differences in the two types of water. One subtle difference between hard water and soft water is its taste. In order to understand how the taste of water can change, it’s important to look at what a water softener or water conditioner does to hard water.
How Does a Water Softener Change Your Water?
Pure water is naturally soft. However, when water travels the sometimes great distances to reach home taps, it picks up materials on the way. The materials picked up in water include a variety of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. While these minerals are also necessary for human health, the traces found in water are inorganic, and cannot be used by the body like the minerals in food can. Still, these small amounts can significantly damage household appliances.
Because of this, many homeowners install water softeners or water conditioners to combat the effects of hard water. The two installations work in slightly different ways. Traditional water softeners use salt for a process called “ion exchange.” During this process, magnesium and calcium ions are essentially exchanged for sodium ions, making the water soft. Salt-free water conditioners don’t remove the hard water minerals, but instead change their form so that they can no longer bind to surfaces.
The Taste of Hard Water vs Soft Water
Knowing how water softeners and water conditioners change water from hard to soft, the next question is often how the homeowner’s water experience is going to change. It is commonly known that soft water feels slicker than hard water, and that soft water dissolves soaps and detergents more quickly, resulting in more suds with less product. However, sometimes the taste of water can change as well.
For some people, the difference in the taste of softened water as compared to hard water is barely noticeable, but still present. The reason for the difference in taste is due to the minerals in the water. The minerals in hard water react to the tongue’s taste buds, giving hard water its taste. These minerals are not present in soft water, and so the reaction doesn’t take place, resulting in the slightly different taste people experience. Many people report finding soft water to taste more “refreshing.”
The Taste of Beverages that Use Water
Because the taste of soft water is slightly different from the taste of hard water, the flavor of any beverages made with that water will be slightly different as well. Such beverages could include homemade lemonade, tea, and fruit flavored drinks. In general, beverages made with soft water tend to have a stronger, clearer flavor, since the taste is not altered by the presence of minerals, such as those found in hard water.
If you would like more information about the beneficial effects of a water softener or a water conditioner, or would like information about installing one in your home, contact Clear Water of San Marcos, located in San Marcos, TX.
You already know about the benefits of having the water in your home softener, either through a traditional water softener, or through an environmentally friendly salt-free water conditioner. However, some homes, especially those whose water comes from a well, may need more than just a softener.
Do You Need a Whole-House UV System?
Whole-house UV systems have helped countless residences all around the United States. These systems give people access to drinking water that’s fresh, clean, and healthy. Whole-house UV systems are known as POE (point-of-entry) systems. Water softening on its own is not always a great option for homes.
If you get your drinking water from a well, you may be a good candidate for a whole-house UV system. That’s because private wells frequently have significant degrees of metals found in their water. They often have substantial amounts of contaminants of all varieties, for that matter. These contaminants have the ability to harm the purity of your drinking water. They, because of that, may even be able to harm your health. Water softeners can minimize or eliminate the hardness of water. They can’t, however, do away with the microbiologic contaminants that are so common inside of private wells.
The Advantages of Whole-House UV Systems
Installation and Maintenance
There are quite a few noteworthy advantages that are connected to whole-house UV systems. These systems don’t call for a substantial amount of maintenance. Usually the only maintenance they require is occasional replacement of the UV lamp. Whole-house UV systems are also a piece of cake to install. Drains aren’t necessary for installation purposes. These systems don’t squander precious water in any way, making them friendly toward the environment.
The Experience of UV Treated Water
As for your in-home experience, whole-house UV systems don’t negatively affect the flavor of your drinking water. They don’t influence its smell, either. Whole-house UV systems enable people to consume water that feels fresh and pleasant. They enable people to bathe in water that’s just as enjoyable and reliable. These things can lead to all sorts of benefits. Whole-house UV systems can even do wonders for people who wish to reap the rewards of hair that feels luxurious and silky. It can even help peoples’ complexions. If you want your skin to feel smooth and youthful, a whole-house UV system may do the trick.
In addition to helping your hair and skin feel smoother, the real importance of a whole-house UV system is its benefits for your and your family’s health. For those using a well, or other water source with possible contaminants, whole-house UV systems can turn the water in your home from a risk to a pleasure.
Clean and fresh water is beyond important in modern society. All people have the right to water that’s both safe and dependable. If you want to invest in a salt-free water softener anywhere in the beautiful Central Texas region, contact Clear Water of San Marcos, located in San Marcos, TX.
The recent news coverage of the water pollution crisis in Flint, Michigan has put unsafe drinking water in the national spotlight. We all take for granted that water will come out of our taps when we turn the knobs, and that the water coming out will be safe to drink. But an incident like this can call this into question—how safe is the tap water you drink from everyday?
There are, of course, laws put into place such as the Safe Drinking Water Act ensure that our drinking water is held to pretty high standards, with water treatment plants removing a vast majority of toxins from our tap water. But some potentially harmful chemicals remain unregulated or can spike periodically, causing possible health concerns. Read on to learn about a few chemicals that can be present in your drinking water and what you can do to protect yourself from them.
As we’ve talked about previously in this blog, the most common process water treatment plants use to disinfect untreated water is the addition of chlorine. While this can be extremely effective, recent discoveries have revealed some unintended side-effects of this process: As chlorine interacts with sewage, dead animals, livestock manure, and other organic rot, it produces chemicals in a family called Trihalomethanes, which have been shown to be possible carcinogens.
While four members of this Trihalomethane family are regulated—including chloroform—are regulated by the EPA, Many others remain unregulated. This means they don’t check to make sure water coming out of treatment plants has these chemicals or not. But the real troubling part is how research has linked these chemicals to bladder cancer, rectal cancer, and birth defects.
Trihalomethanes aren’t the only unwanted chemical created during the water treatment disinfection process. Some studies estimate that there are as many as 600 new chemicals created when chlorine reacts with untreated water, but of particular interest are haloacetic acids. While the EPA regulates this family of chemicals, the rules let trace amounts of them slip by. And those trace amounts may be enough to cause damage in our bodies.
In addition to being possible carcinogens, haloacetic acids pose an even greater risk to pregnant women, as exposure to these chemicals during pregnancy can result in low birth weight and other defects.
The dangers of chlorine disinfection by-products haven’t gone unnoticed, though. A recent alternative to using chlorine has been to replace it with chloramines, which combine the chlorine with ammonia. This move made sense—chloramines were observed to be more stable and produce up to 47% fewer trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids. Unfortunately, they may also make things worse.
Unlike chlorine, which produces toxic chemical by-products in water, chloramines themselves are toxic to kidney dialysis patients and produce their own dangerous by-products called iodoacids. Some researchers consider these to be even more toxic than any chemicals produced by chlorination.
What Can You Do?
If potentially dangerous chemicals can actually make it through the water tretment process and into your tap, is there anything you can do to protect yourself from them? Luckily, sink-mounted and cartridge-based carbon filters can be very effective in removing these chemicals. Always make sure you research a product fully before buying it, though, as not all of them filter out these particular chemicals. Always remember to replace your filter immediately when the manufacturer indicates it should be replaced. You’re not just dealing with flavor—you’re dealing with your health!
At Clearwater, we offer a few different solutions that can help you with this important issue in addition to our salt-free water conditioning systems. Call us to discuss some of these options regarding which products will work to protect you from potential dangers in your tap water.
Last time, we ran an article supporting the tap water over bottled water movement. But earlier that month, we had also brought up concerns about possible contaminants and other dangers in municipal tap water sources. In central Texas, in particular, hard water and high levels of chlorine and its resulting by-products are common problems. So if bottled water isn’t an option, is home filtration the only way to enjoy clean, sustainable water?
Not all tap water is created equal. Almost all drinking water in the U.S. meets the EPA’s standards for Safe Drinking Water, but some cities exceed expectations better than others. As it turns out, where you live can dramatically change the quality of tap water available to you, and this article will go over the top 5 U.S. cities in terms of tap water quality. Whether you’re thinking of moving and drinking water quality is a priority for you, or whether you’re just plain curious, keep reading!
Lowest Haloacetic Acid levels: Tucson, Ariz., Lincoln, Neb., and San Antonio, Texas
The above 3 cities earned the honor of having the lowest levels of haloacetic acid, a chlorine disinfection byproduct that weighs heavily on this list because of its EPA-found link to increased risks of cancer. As a previous blog post talked about, adding high levels of chlorine to disinfect contaminated water can result in some seriously harmful byproducts. These cities, therefore, are blessed with the luxury of not needing to add too much chlorine to their water. Good for them!
Lowest Concentrations of Lead: Jackson, Miss., San Diego, Calif., and Mobile, Ala.
Unfortunately for many of us, lead used to be a common material used to build plumbing systems, and lots of older systems still contain high quantities of this dangerous element. Since lead can be corroded and leeched into drinking water, it can be consumed by children, causing developmental delays. The above 3 cities have a significant health advantage by scoring lowest in this metric.
Lowest Turbidity Levels: Billings, Mont.
This city earned top marks for its low turbidity, or cloudiness in the water. Turbidity results from colloidal particles that are too small and light to settle out of the water. While no one would argue that cloudy water is ever appetizing, it can even be dangerous as these suspended particles can be harmful chemicals or even bacteria. The less turbidity, the better.
Lowest Bacteria Levels: Tucson, Ariz.
Once again, Tucson, Arizona makes our list. Perhaps because its water is pumped from the Colorado river and naturally filtered through its aquafer, this desert city’s water supply passes with flying colors in multiple areas. Well done, Tucson!
Best Overall: Des Moines, Iowa; Austin, Texas; and Sioux Falls, S.D.
Taking all of the above variables into account, these cities have some of the overall safest drinking water in the U.S. Low levels of lead, turbidity, and chlorine byproducts mean that people in these cities enjoy some great water right out of the tap. Maybe that’s why Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in the country!
For those of us living in San Marcos and the Central Texas area, however, our water doesn’t always exceed expectations. Luckily, home water softening and filtration systems are widely available to improve your drinking water quality no matter where you live. Give us a call and see what you can do for your own water!
This is an excellent question. What we put in our bodies is extremely important, and the water we drink is no exception to this. Yet tap water, more often than not, is the subject of controversy and concern. From foul odors to bad taste and mineral deposits, it’s no challenge to be able to tell that there’s more than just dihydrogen monoxide coming out of our pipes. But how do you know exactly what else is in there? The best way to learn what’s in tap water is to understand the processing it goes through on the way from nature to your tap. Read on to learn this process in more detail and really start to get to know what’s in your water!
In Texas, most drinking water comes from various aquifers as ground water. These, along with river water, are the two most common places we get our drinking water from and, in both cases, the water undergoes a strictly regulated cleaning process before it makes its way into the tap pipes. In the first step in this process the raw river or ground water passes through a series of screens made of metal bars. These collect large organic matter like plants and animals as well as any trash in the water.
In the next step, certain chemicals called flocculates are added to the water to allow suspended dirt particles to settle out. This chemistry, along with a rapid spinning movement, causes almost all of the murkiness in the water to settle to the bottom, while the now clear water moves on to the next step.
The water is now clean, but it may still harbor dangerous bacteria or viruses. While several disinfection methods such as boiling have been used in the past, these days chlorination has proven to be the most efficient and cost-effective means of neutralizing harmful pathogens. As a result, nearly every public water system in the U.S. uses chlorine as the exclusive disinfectant.
If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, however, then you’d know that chlorination is not all good. As it neutralizes bacteria, it produces chemical by-products that have been shown to be surprisingly dangerous in recent years, and even skin contact with these chemicals can be harmful. You can rad about this in our previous blog post.
So, as you can see, no matter where it started from, water undergoes some pretty in-depth processing before it gets to your tap. But this processing isn’t perfect. Several minerals, like those that make water “hard” slip by, and many of the added chemicals may do almost as much harm as they do good.
Keep these things in mind as you decide which home filtration or water softening systems you might need for your own home; sometimes spending a little extra to add one last layer of water screening of your own can make all the difference. If you would like more information about water filtration and water softening or conditioning systems, visit Clear Water of San Marcos, located in San Marcos, TX.