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About Water Treatment Systems
A water softener does not put salt into the water.
It merely exchanges calcium ions in the water for sodium or potassium ions. The amount of sodium or potassium coming through in soft tap water is extremely low. For example, in 10 grain hard water, the amount of sodium in an 8 ounce glass of soft water is typically equivalent to the sodium in one slice of white bread. Soft water, by dietary standards, would be considered a “low sodium” beverage. Consumers may use potassium as a regenerant if they prefer not to clean out the system with sodium. Be sure to check on the efficiency of the water softener before using potassium as it is higher priced and 25% less efficient than sodium as a regenerant.
Your city water supplier is not required to provide you with soft water. Many municipalities reduce the amount of hardness to some degree. But according to the U.S. Geological Survey, 85 percent of American homes are still supplied with hard water. Your city is required to provide you with water test results that show water hardness; just call the number on your water bill. Compare the figure they give you to the Water Quality Association hardness classification system to see if you have hard water.
Many people that use city water choose to soften it to save money on soaps and cleaners. This helps protect their plumbing systems and appliances from scale buildup, provide better water for bathing and eliminate hard water spots.
Water softeners improve the water we bathe in and clean with throughout the home. Softeners are not purifiers and will not reduce a wide range of potential contaminants. Many consumers want to purify their water for drinking, cooking, and ice cubes. Our drinking water systems provide high quality, chemical-free water right at the faucet.
What’s more important to you, the water that goes “on you” or the water that goes “in you?” Most people would answer that the water they consume is more important. That’s why most people that choose to purchase water treatment equipment further refine their drinking water with a separate system.
A water conditioner is typically placed at the point where the water enters the home so it can soften (remove dissolved hardness minerals from) all the water distributed throughout the house. That’s how a water conditioner protects your water heater, water-using appliances, plumbing, sinks, bathtubs, faucets, and other things.
A drinking water system normally services a special faucet at the kitchen sink and further treats (reduces a large number of dissolved solids in) only the water you use for drinking and food preparation. It would be a waste to refine all of the water used in the home to drinking water quality. Treating drinking water at the point of use reduces the cost of the system.
Combination systems that address both kinds of water treatment needs are available. They typically offer the two systems in one complete, compact package.
Over 85% of the United States has hard water. Since hardness is really dissolved rock, the average family of four will have more than 15 pounds of rock per year in their water for each grain of hardness.
These mineral deposits in your home from hard water can:
- Ruin water bearing appliances (cutting the life of washing machines, dishwashers, and hot water heaters by up to 50%)
- Increase energy costs for water heaters by 33%
- Destroy faucets and fixtures (costing hundreds of dollars to replace)
- Buildup scale on fixtures and shower doors
- Clog plumbing (re-piping your home costs thousands of dollars)
- Produce cloudy ice cubes
- Make unsightly rings in the toilet and bathtub (soap scum)
- Dry out skin and hair
- Leave spots and stains on dishes and silverware
- Turn white fabrics gray, fade colored laundry, and cause towels to feel hard and stiff
- Require additional cleaning time and the use of environmentally unfriendly cleaning products with phosphates/water softening agent
About Drinking Systems
Studies have found that minerals in your drinking water essentially make no contribution to your health and may even be present in forms your body can’t absorb. Unfortunately, the myth that drinking water with minerals is healthy is perpetuated by companies that promote “mineral water”. In fact, the Water Quality Association, the trade association of the water treatment industry, prohibits health claims in any of its members’ literature and advertising.
The Kinetico K5 Drinking Water Station is customizable to your home’s specific filtration needs and can actually add minerals back to your water to restore alkalinity.
For more information about the water you drink, contact your local water authority. Each year they are required to produce a report on what’s in the water in your area.
Drinking water generally contracts lead from plumbing that has been connected with lead solder (outlawed in 1986) or from outdated water distribution lines. There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of lead in your drinking water.
Some sources suggest running your tap water for a couple of minutes before filling a glass to flush any accumulated lead from the water line (lead dissolves into standing water over time). This isn’t a foolproof solution, however, since there is no way of knowing whether all of the lead has been removed and since lead can still dissolve into running water.
Never use hot tap water to prepare drinks or meals. Hot water attracts more lead than cold water does. If you need hot water, heat cold tap water on the stove or in a microwave.
In their informational brochure “Living Lead Free,” the American Water Works Association recommends having your water tested for lead to find out whether you should take action. Your local Kinetico water expert can have your water analyzed by a laboratory and help you decipher the results.
Use a carbon drinking water filter or reverse osmosis system that has been certified to protect your drinking water from lead. Check that the manufacturer’s claims have been verified by the Water Quality Association or NSF International; not all systems are certified for lead reduction.
Bottled water is an acceptable alternative if you would like better tasting water for drinking and cooking, but it can be expensive, a hassle to carry from the store, can contain harmful BPA chemicals and other bacteria, not to mention all those plastic bottles in our landfills.
It’s generally much less expensive in the long run to use a home drinking water system. Drinking water systems are convenient and provide you with high quality, environmentally-friendly water in your own home when you want it, at prices per gallon that are considerably lower than bottled water.
Check to see that the system you choose is certified to protect you from a wide variety of contaminants and that the manufacturer’s claims have been verified by the Water Quality Association or NSF International.
Hard v. Soft Water
No. According to a report issued by the Water Quality Research Council, water softeners do not have any detrimental effect on septic systems and may actually enhance their performance in certain situations by encouraging the growth of additional bacteria.
In fact, the flow from the softener is typically less than the waste water discharged from an automatic washing machine. The studies credited the high levels of calcium and magnesium present (in the flow that results when the softener cleans itself) with improving soil percolation in many instances. These studies were conducted by scientists at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and the National Sanitation Foundation.
When you wash in soft water, you feel your skin the way it’s supposed to feel, clean and silky smooth. According to the U.C. Berkeley Wellness Letter, when you wash in hard water, the soap you’re using reacts with the hardness minerals in the water “to form an insoluble residue that’s difficult to wash away.” The “squeaky” feel/sound many people associate with being clean is, in fact, your skin sticking because of this residue. Soft water rinses your skin and hair better than hard water and doesn’t leave a soap or shampoo residue behind. People that use soft water consistently enjoy the “truly clean” feeling they get when washing with it.
No, soft water actually protects your plumbing and water using appliances. According to the US EPA’s Thomas J. Sorg, softened water does not increase lead and copper leaching in household plumbing systems. As long as your water has a neutral pH, softening it will not make it corrosive. Water that does not fall into the neutral range should be neutralized even if it is not being softened. If it isn’t neutralized, it will typically cause corrosion, whether it’s hard or soft.
About Problem Water
You most likely have a problem with Hydrogen Sulfide in your water. Water absorbs this gas as it passes through the ground. When you turn on your faucet, you actually vent the gas from your tap water.
Hydrogen sulfide can be treated with oxidation and filtration. Oxidation turns the gas into elemental sulfur which can then be removed via filtration. Normally, an aeration system injects air into the water to oxidize the gas. The water then passes through a filter that removes the sulfur. The result is water free of the “rotten egg” smell you describe.
Iron in your water is the most likely culprit. It stains faucets, sinks, bathtubs, countertops, appliances and even clothing. You can usually remove the iron with a home water conditioner.
In some instances, iron is present in such large amounts that a multi-stage filtration system is necessary to remove it. But don’t fret; your problem may appear worse than it really is. Iron in even small amounts can cause staining.
Explore the tap water database to learn more about what pollutants have been found in your local tap water, just search by zip code: www.ewg.org/tapwater