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.
How can you tell if your home would benefit from having a water softener or a water conditioner installed? Below are several signs and symptoms that you can indicate that a water filtration system might be right for you.
Strange, Smelly, Or Unpleasant Tasting Water
One symptom that you need a water conditioning system for your home is that the water tastes unpleasant or strange. It can also have an unpleasant smell in addition to an unpleasant taste. The bad taste can come from too much iron, which creates a metallic taste. Sediment, corrosion from pipes, and hydrogen sulfide gas can also give your water a bad taste or smell. Get a water conditioning and filtration system to eliminate these issues.
Staining Of Plumbing Fixtures And Soap Scum Accumulation
A good indication that your water is hard and needs to be softened is that your plumbing fixtures, such as the faucet, sink, and toilet bowl, get stained. Depending on the minerals present in your water, you could have orange, reddish, or grayish stains. Soap scum accumulation in your shower is another sign that your water needs to be softened. Hard water makes it that much more difficult for soap to become dissolved. Hence the accumulation of soap scum in the bathtub and shower.
Clogged Shower Heads, Weak Lathers, And A Soapy Feeling After A Shower
All of these are symptoms of hard water that should be conditioned. Minerals from hard water accumulate and form scale on the shower head. This clogs the head as well as the plumbing, leading to reduced water pressure. Hard water also makes it more difficult for soap to lather. In addition, hard water makes it more difficult to wash away and dissolve soap that you apply to your body. This is what causes that soapy or filmy residue feeling after showering with hard water.
Clogged Pipes, Worn Out Appliances, And Clothes That Don’t Get Cleaned
Hard water creates scale buildup which builds up overtime and will clog pipes. If you have an older plumbing system that uses steel pipes, then this problem will be especially severe. The scale from hard water will also wear out appliances that use water, such as the dishwasher, washing machine, and even refrigerator. This will lead to needs for repairs, cleanings, or even replacements that can cost you a lot of money.
If your clothes don’t seem to get cleaned or feel rough and faded after you put them in a washer then this is a good sign your water could some softening. Hard water will make your detergent less effective. It can also stain your clothes.
Introducing A Salt-Free Water Softener And Conditioning System For Your Home
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms in your home, then it is time for you to get a water softening and conditioning system. Clear Water of San Marcos can install a salt-free water softener in your home that will require no salt and no back washing that wastes precious water. Call Clear Water of San Marcos today at 512-757-1731 to get a water softener system installed in your home to eliminate scaling, soap scum accumulation, and staining from your water.
Water softeners do remove minerals like calcium and magnesium from your water, and these are minerals that your body needs. However, having them removed from your water won’t decrease your intake of these minerals, since your body does not usually get these minerals from water but instead from your diet. Let’s take a closer look.
Which Minerals Are in Hard Water?
Hard water is typically water that contains significant amounts of dissolved calcium, magnesium, and similar minerals. These are picked up naturally from the areas water has flowed over before it reaches your home. Having these minerals in your water can lead to film-like deposits left on your dishes or other surfaces. These chalky deposits may seem nothing more than annoying on dishes, but they can also build-up in your appliances and eventually cause them to need repairs or replacement.
What Happens to the Minerals?
Softening water does not fully remove calcium and magnesium from your water, but it neutralizes them by changing their form. How this is done depends on what sort of water softener you have. For example, water softeners that use salt utilize a process called ion exchange. This process essentially “trades” the calcium and magnesium for the soft mineral sodium.
However, if you have a salt-free water conditioner, the process is a little different. Salt-free systems are referred to as water conditioners rather than water softeners because they don’t remove hard minerals from water. Instead, they condition water by chemically changing minerals such as calcium and magnesium so that they no longer attach to surfaces and create build-up.
Is Added Sodium Bad for You?
If you have a water softener that uses salt, it will add sodium to your water. The amount of sodium added depends on how hard your water is. Sodium in large amounts can be unhealthy, but luckily the amount added by water softeners, even for very hard water, is incredibly small. If you are concerned about the amount of sodium that’s healthy for you, or if you have a sodium restricted diet, contact your doctor before using a water softener. You can also consider using a salt-free system instead.
Where Else Can You Get Healthy Minerals?
Whether you have a water softener or a salt-free water conditioner, both will leave your water without the original hard minerals it previously contained. Some people worry that because of this they will have an unhealthy lack of these minerals in their body. However, as mentioned earlier, your body does not get its calcium and magnesium from your water. In water these minerals exist in an inorganic state, and your body cannot even digest them.
Instead of worrying about these minerals in water, look at your diet to make sure that you’re getting a healthy amount of them. For example, digestible calcium is found in dairy products like milk. Magnesium is present in broccoli and many other vegetables. As long as you have a healthy diet with a variety of foods, you’ll get the minerals that you need. If you’re concerned about the amount of calcium and magnesium you’re consuming, talk to your doctor about a diet that’s right for you.
If you would like more information about how water softeners and conditioners work, contact Clear Water of San Marcos, located in San Marcos, TX.
A rain collector is a great way to get access to a lot of water without having to tap into community sources, and as long as you are not in a recharge zone, the water you use does not affect the water supply levels. A rain collector is generally not recommended to be used for a supply of drinking water, however, rain collector’s can and should be used if there is truly no other clean water available.
Here we will be going over the ways to ensure that the water you are collecting from the rain is safe (both how to filter it and the things that cause it to become contaminated). We will also be going over the safer uses of rainwater that are applicable to most, and various information about efficiency related to amount, pathogens, risks, and recharge zones. Though it isn’t required for all uses, the environmental and fiscal benefits multiply when combined with measures to conserve water, remove dangerous bacteria, and filter with equipment that does not remove the necessary minerals from the water.
Selecting Equipment for Collecting
Storage —Those looking to save some money on lawn care may opt for a simple wooden barrel, while those needing large volumes may require the use of piping that runs between multiple barrels or containers.
Collection —The most basic collection system is simply a barrel with a screen that catches a small area. The roof is commonly used, and a diverter can allow you to not start collecting rain until it has rained enough that all dirt is washed away. Uncommon enough to not warrant great detail, some use large funnels or food grade plastic pieces as a cleaner alternative to roofs.
Best Uses and Situations for Rain Collection
Best Uses for Unfiltered Non-Potable Water
- Watering your garden plants (but still avoid watering lawns when in a drought)
- Hosing down dirty cars, parts of your home, etc.
Best Uses for Filtered Potable Water (Assuming you are using proper equipment. Speak with a Clear Water expert to be safe). The options are for this are numerous. The ones that need fuller filtration will be marked as such, and those that can be used safely with a more basic filtration system will be marked as well.
- If you can adjust the pipelines, you can use this water to do laundry and run the toilet (basic filtration)
- Showering and sink water is not recommended for usage without running the proper tests, but is a possibility. Similarly, drinking water is generally saved for emergencies but is a possibility (full filtration)
Safety, Hazards, Filtering, and Equipment
Safety —Rain itself is evaporated water, which doesn’t carry any bacteria with it. But that does not mean that what you end up with in the barrel is totally safe. Especially if you do not use a screen, or let it run off your roof before collecting it. In addition, you need to make sure that the water isn’t exposed to direct sunlight and open air, as this will create the perfect breeding ground for algae, bugs and bacteria.
Filtering Equipment —What you need will depends greatly on what you use it for, how often it is used, and the collection equipment used. You may need something to make the water drinking quality, something to remove pathogens, or something to remove toxins (while retaining beneficial minerals).
We hope that this helps you with any efforts to create a rain collector, big or small. If you have any questions or interest in making your own rain collector and need help with the integration of its usefulness into your everyday life, contact Clear Water of San Marcos, located in San Marcos, TX.
As Texas homeowners, many of you have faced the struggle regarding whether or not to purchase a water softener or conditioner. You have probably heard many times about the importance they can have in your home, for your health and for the life of your appliances. However, water softeners are a financial investment and researching the ongoing costs of maintaining one can help you prepare for the possible expenses. In addition to this, if the ongoing costs of a water softener are discouraging, there are also other options available, such as water conditioners, which are discussed below.
Ongoing Costs and Maintenance
When purchasing a traditional water softener, homeowners should be aware of the costs of ongoing maintenance as well as the initial price tag. In order to maintain the system there are two main things that you are going to need fairly often: consumable salt and consistent unit service. Keep these costs in mind when searching for the right water softener as they do add up. According to Industry Standard, the average family of four will need to obtain a forty pound bag of salt each month. That’s typically around $25 dollars each month added on to other expenses.
Servicing is not as pressing of an expense because most water softeners only need to be checked once every one to two years. However, this maintenance does need to be done by a professional, and their time and the cost of repairs can add up. This can be especially painful if you bought a cheaper water softener in the beginning. While they may seem to be cheaper in the beginning, just like any other low priced option, the quality is often poorer, which means that your water softener will be weakened sooner and needed to be checked far more often than it would if you had purchased a more expensive and better quality version.
Alternatives to Water Softeners: Water Conditioners
As mentioned above, sometimes the initial cost of a water softener, plus the additional costs of maintaining it, can be discouraging. If you don’t feel that a traditional water softener is right for your home, you should consider purchasing a salt-free water softener instead. A salt-free water softener is far less expensive and because it works in a far different way than salt-based water softeners, by changing the form of the minerals instead of using salt that has to be replaced, it gives the water a much slicker feel. This is usually ideal for many people looking for an alternative to constantly buying bottled water.
In the end the choice is up to you. While some people prefer traditional water softeners that utilize salt, many decide to use the salt-free water conditioner as an environmentally friendly alternative with fewer maintenance costs. If you would like more information about water softeners and conditioners, visit Clear Water of San Marcos, located in San Marcos, TX.