Are Water Softeners Environmentally Friendly?
Have you ever wondered what the environmental impact of water softeners is? Soft water is water that has had the "hardness" impurities like magnesium and calcium removed and replaced with salt. A common question is whether or not water softeners are environmentally friendly. The short answer is yes, water softeners increase the lifespan of your appliances and household plumbing, creating less waste. It has been said that the sodium in the water can be damaging to the environment, however, the benefits outweigh the negatives. At WaterSmart, the professionals can equip you with the knowledge you need so that your home can be equipped with the right tools and information to keep your water soft, safe, and keep you healthy. Contact the local experts at WaterSmart today to check your water quality.
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Are Water Softeners Environmentally Friendly?
Hard water significantly reduces the lifespan of both appliances and household plumbing. Having a water softener will add years to the lifespan of both appliances and plumbing. This, in short, means that water softeners are in fact environmentally friendly. Disposing of unwanted, rusted, worn out appliances and pipes is very hard on the environment. Installing a water softener in your home instantly increases the lifespan of appliances and plumbing.
Minerals Leave Scaly Deposits
Minerals like magnesium and calcium are present in hard water, which makes it more difficult for soap to lather, dishes to be washed, etc. This results in scaly deposits in faucets and plumbing. Most water softening systems deal with these issues by passing water through a resin tank that contains sodium ion beads. These particles change places with the magnesium and calcium, providing soft water as a result.
Mineral Removal Without Sodium — Is It Possible?
According to recent studies, aluminum ions can be used to remove minerals from water without using sodium. This innovative technique could also address environmental and health concerns regarding the salt that existing sodium-based water softening systems release. Arup Sengupta, who is conducting this research, is an environmental engineer at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA.
Will This New Concept Work?
According to Steven Duranceau, an environmental engineer at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, although this is an exciting concept, the innovative design may not work as well in real life as it does in the laboratory. With the strict guidelines around drinking water, this may not be a viable option. Sengupta is optimistic, however, and says that while this idea has shortcomings, none of them seem to be insurmountable.
Sodium and Environmental Concerns
The extra salt can also enter local streams and groundwater. In California, due to the strict environmental legislation, salt-based water softening systems have been banned. In Canada, however, we do not have the same environmental problems or concerns with sodium. According to Sengupta, who has been studying sodium alternatives, although some sodium-free substitutes are available, many of them are extremely costly, and others don’t really work.
How Magnesium and Calcium Can be Reduced in Water
Researchers have set up a prototype water softening system in a laboratory and succeeded in reducing the quantity of magnesium and calcium in a groundwater-like mix using aluminum ions. According to Sengupta, this process makes use of a similar setup to systems based on sodium, which means that it could potentially be possible to retrofit existing systems to use aluminum ions in the future.
With the hard water issues Canada is experiencing, many people are using water softeners. Along with using these softeners come questions about the health implications and environmental concerns surrounding water softeners.
Hard water contains minerals that can cause a lot of problems. The minerals in hard water can make your skin and hair dry, clog your plumbing, hurt your appliances, make your clothes look dull and worn, and even create buildup on faucets and dishes. A whole home water softening system can help you to avoid these problems by removing some of these minerals from your water. Most softeners are ion exchange systems that remove the magnesium and calcium from the hard water and replace them with sodium ions. When sodium (salt) is added to the water, it can have adverse effects on your health and the environment.
There are studies happening now exploring new, innovative chemistry and devices that could keep salt water out of our streams and drinking water.
Water chemistry is complex and there is no single water treatment device that can remove all undesirable substances from water and be 100% environmentally friendly. Each water treatment device has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, with water softeners, the waste reduction from having soft water makes a water softener more environmentally friendly than not having one. If you are unsure whether water treatment is needed in your household, contact the water treatment experts at WaterSmart. They can help you decide which option or combination of options will best meet your home water needs.