Getting a water softener may seem like a good idea, but there are a few
problems with them that you need to consider first. Soft water is a great
alternative to hard water for various reasons: it makes your appliances
last longer, reduces the build-up of limescale, and requires you to use
less shampoo and soap. This is because soft water contains little or no
dissolved minerals, while hard water has a much higher mineral content
that includes calcium and magnesium. However, typical home water softeners
replace this calcium and magnesium by exchanging their ions for sodium
or potassium. This addition of salt into your water can cause the following problems:
1. Soft water can harm your plants.
As you water your plants, the salt in the soft water builds up in the soil
and can cause your plants to die of thirst, especially in places that
don’t get much rainfall. High amounts of salt in the soil can also
decrease oxygen levels and cause the soil to become compacted. As a result,
plants won’t be able to get enough nutrients to their roots and
will eventually die. To figure out if your plants have salt stress, check
to see if their leaves have yellow tips or if there are salt rings where
the water soaks into the soil.
The best type of water to use when watering plants is distilled, neutral
water. Hard water can cause blockages in the plant’s root system,
which can also cause your plants to die.
2. Soft water can harm the environment.
When you use soft water, it will eventually end up in your city’s
water source and will likely be used to irrigate parks and agriculture.
The salt in the water will eventually make the soil compacted, just like
with your plants at home, and the plants will lose nutrients and eventually
die. This can also prevent new plants from growing in the salty soil.
Additionally, in cities where water softeners are allowed, the waste water
must filter out the salt. Then the city must discharge of the salt somewhere.
Many places such as California put it into the ocean, which can be expensive
and have negative effects on the aquatic environment.
In other places, the salt may be added to a stream or lake and have the
same effects on the life there. It is also wise not to use soft water
in aquariums because it can be harmful to the fish.
3. Water softeners can waste your water.
Believe it or not, you actually use more water when you use a water softener.
One reason for this is that you need more water to water your plants because
soft water will often run off until the soil becomes damp. In addition,
you will need more water to wash the salt out of the soil. Another reason
for the increase in water usage is that you will have to use more water
when you shower, wash your hands, or wash your dishes in order to get
all of the soap or shampoo off.
Although many scientists have said that drinking soft water does not have
any health risks, people who prefer not to drink it for health or personal
reasons often have a reverse osmosis unit. These units waste at least
a gallon for every gallon that it produces.
One way to help solve these problems is to connect your water softener
to your hot water line only. This way you will have soft water for taking
showers, washing clothes, and running your dishwasher, but you can use
hard water for watering your plants and drinking. This will also push
less salt into the environment.