A water softener is a unit that is used to soften water by removing the minerals that cause the water to be hard. When water contains a high level of calcium and magnesium it is called hard water.

Water softening is the removal of calciummagnesium, and certain other metal cations in hard water. The resulting soft water requires less soap for the same cleaning effort, as soap is not wasted mopping up calcium ions. Soft water also extends the lifetime of plumbing by reducing or eliminating scale build-up in pipes and fittings. Water softening is usually achieved using lime softening or ion-exchange resins but is increasingly being accomplished using nano filtration or reverse osmosis membranes.



Hard water constitutes several problems throughout your home that you may or may not have noticed. Hard water is known to clog pipes, complicate soap and detergent dissolving in water, and leave behind water spots. It creates a scale buildup inside your pipes and water appliances reducing the efficiency of your water heater. This means more energy is used to heat water which will result in increased energy expenses. Soap is also less effective in hard water because it reacts to form the calcium or magnesium salt of the organic acid of the soap. Skin washed in hard water is typically reported as feeling scratchy and dry as a result of the soap scum. Hair washed in hard water is reported as being dull-looking and sticky. Some may experience a few of these hard water results and others may be accustomed to the feeling of their clothes, bedding, skin and hair after washing. It is mostly important to protect your home with softened water to prolong the lifespan of pipes and home appliances from scale buildup and clogging.

Hard water can be treated with a water softener to reduce the negative impacts of hard water. Water softeners are specific ion exchanges that are designed to remove ions which are positively charged. Anti-scale systems transform calcium ions into calcium crystals which are stable and cannot attach to pipes, surfaces, hardware or other fixtures. The crystals are so small they are easily rinsed away by the water flow. They are harmless, neutral, heat resistant and completely stable and will not attach to any surfaces like your pipes and heaters to cause lime deposits.


The presence of certain metal ions like calcium and magnesium principally as bicarbonateschlorides, and sulphates in water causes a variety of problems.

Hard water leads to the build up of lime scale, which can foul plumbing, and promote galvanic corrosion. In industrial scale water softening plants, the effluent flow from the re-generation process can precipitate scale that can interfere with sewage systems.

The slippery feeling experienced when using soap with soft water occurs because soaps tend to bind to fats in the surface layers of skin, making soap molecules difficult to remove by simple dilution. In contrast, in hard-water areas, the rinse water contains calcium or magnesium ions that form insoluble salts, effectively removing the residual soap from the skin but potentially leaving a coating of insoluble stearates on tub and shower surfaces, commonly called soap scum.

The desirability of these competing effects varies by personal preference, and those who dislike the effects of soft water may choose to harden the water by adding chemicals such as baking sodacalcium chloride, or magnesium sulphate.


Water treated with a water softener versus untreated hard water has many benefits:

  • Cleaner and shinier silverware, glassware, mirrors, tiles, cars, or any plumbing fixtures.
  • Softer skin and clean, smooth hair.
  • Reduced soap curd makes cleaning easier and reduces housework.
  • Uses less soap and shampoo because of the rich lather softened water and soap produces.
  • Softer clothes without hard minerals trapped in the fabric. Fabrics last longer and whites stay whiter without the dingy gray caused by hard water.
  • Preserves the life of all water appliances such as coffee machines, ice makers, dishwashers, water heaters and laundry equipment.
  • Save money on monthly energy costs and damages to appliances.

1. Water Softeners Reduce Damage Done to Kitchen Utensils

Kitchen utensils are the most susceptible to hard water as they are usually in most contact with the water . Hard water can cause items such as cooking pots, pans, kettles, and tea pots to develop etching, soap film, and dullness.

Aside from the damage that hard water can do when you clean kitchen utensils, you can also irritate the interior of kettles and pots when you boil hard water as well. With a build-up of scaly white spots, these kitchen utensils will look dirty and have an odd taste. This will most likely be the calcium and magnesium left behind from the hard water.

If you choose an anti-scale water softener, the device will turn calcium ions into calcium crystals, which will not produce scales on any object or surface.


Bottom Line: Hard water can cause kitchen utensils to develop etching and soap film, which can leave the utensils looking dirty. This can happen when you wash them or boil hard water in them. Using an anti-scale water softener will eliminate these effects.

2. Water Softeners Keep the Skin Smooth and Well-Nourished

When bathing with soft water, hard water in combination with soap and shampoo can develop soap scum on the body or cause your skin to become sticky. The reason this occurs is due to calcium and magnesium in hard water mixing with anions which are found in soaps.

Even rinsing will not dissolve this mixture. Instead, the film will remain and clog your pores, causing bacteria to grow which leads to rash development, skin irritation, and dry and itchy skin.

Use of hard water on the skin can even cause acne. In fact, if you have acne troubles, it is recommended that you wash your face with bottled, distilled, or soft water instead.

Rinsing with hard water can also lead to developments of eczema. In one study, it was determined that those who used hard water on their skin were 50% more likely to develop eczema than those who used soft water.

In another eczema study, which involved children participants, it was found that 91% of children who received a water softener in their home noticed that they were less itchy. 83% of the parents reported that the severity of their rashes or eczema decreased and 67% of the group were using less medications for the eczema.


Bottom Line: Bathing in soft water is better for your skin than hard water. With hard water, calcium and magnesium can mix poorly with soap to cause build up which clogs pores and leaves a film on the skin. Washing your skin with soft water will clear up acne and prevent rashes and eczema.

3. Water Softeners Prevent Soap Film and Detergent Curd Build-up in Cleaning Devices

If you inadvertently use hard water to wash your laundry, your washing machines could develop soap film which will prevent your clothes from becoming completely clean. In some cases, white laundry can even become gray if the water is not softened.

When using hard water in laundry facilities, your clothes can also wear out quicker and may not wash well because hard water needs more soap to create suds and spread through your load. Soft water, by comparison, cleans your clothes more effectively.

Some cleaning appliances are so badly damaged from the abundance of soap film and detergent curd build-up that they need to be replaced. However, replacing these appliances may prove particularly challenging due to the lime build-up on the internal faucet mechanisms. Water softeners will be able to prevent devices from failing due to severe mineral build up.

Bottom Line: Hard water can decrease the efficiency of cleaning devices such as washing machines and dishwashers. Soap film will form along the inside of washing machines, which will cause the clothes to turn gray as the water will not be able to mix well with the soap. Then the clogging of the devices can worsen to the point where they have to be replaced. With a water softener, cleaning devices will be able to sanitize products more effectively and the devices will be unharmed.

4. Water Softeners Help Maintain Hot Water Heaters

When hard water passes through electric water heaters, the minerals in the water builds up in an accelerated rate. Should this happen too often, the water heater can break due to the mineral deposits preventing the water from reaching the heating element within the water heater.

This can affect gas water heaters in the same manner, but mineral deposits can be somewhat eliminated in gas water heaters if you drain and flush them on a regular basis. Electric water heaters would have to be replaced.

Therefore, it is very important to have a water softener for the electric water heaters specifically because replacing an electric water heater can be expensive and tedious work.

In addition to being good for kitchen utensils and surfaces, using a water softener with an anti-scale system will prevent lime deposits from developing in your hot water heater.

Bottom Line: Water heaters can get damaged when hard water passes through it. With the mineral build up the hard water leaves behind, it prevents the heat from reaching it, but using a water softener with an anti-scale system will lessen the deposits and help better the performance of the water heater.

5. Water Softeners Reduce Pipe and Faucet Damage

Pipes and faucets can be clogged when hard water flows through them too often. In certain scenarios, pipes and faucets can be clogged up so bad, some minor repairs need to be done to them at the very least. This can include simply changing the mentioned material. Other options are cleaning the area of build up or bringing in professional help.

You will be able to tell if your pipes or faucet are clogged or damaged if your water pressure has lowered. Shower heads and valves can also be affected by hard water, even if it appears that the pipes do not have scales or mineral build up. Both shower heads and valves can become clogged and can drip hard water onto sinks and bathtubs, damaging these surfaces.

Water softeners can eliminate mineral build up in pipes and faucets, reducing scales on sinks and bathtubs, so you do not have to clean up so often and your pipes will not be damaged.

Bottom Line: When hard water flows through pipes and faucets, minerals can build up within them which can lower the water pressure and damage shower heads, valves, sinks, and bathtubs. With a water softener in the home, mineral build up will be reduced and pipes will remain unharmed by hard water.

6. Water Softeners Decrease the Need for More Soap and Shampoo in the Shower

Hard water can cause hair to become dull and flat, leaving you to use more shampoo to give it more volume. Likewise, since hard water can form a film across your skin when it is in contact with soap, you will feel like you need to use more soap to get rid of the film, which will prove to be ineffective.

Many studies have been performed on the effects both hard water and soft water have on soap, and soft water has been much more productive in emphasizing the usefulness of soap. One such project placed hard water and soap in one bottle and soft water and soap in another. The one with hard water procured scum while the one with soft water produced bubbles and was cleaner.

In another study, it was found that when using soft water to bathe, you use 75% less soap.

Therefore, it was reasoned that soft water not only produced cleaner results to skin and hair, it also helped decrease the amount of substances, such as soap, in both areas, which prevents the build up of oil, dirt, and breakouts. This allows for your soap and shampoo to be helpful at the first use rather than repetitive uses in the fruitless attempt to rid of the soap scum.

Even pets can be affected by the use of soft water in their baths. Their soaps and shampoos become more effectively as their coats are sleeker and shinier. However, it is recommended not to allow your pets to drink an abundance of soft water or have them consume it so quickly. This could lead to the development of cardiovascular disease.


Bottom Line: Softened water has been proven to be more effective in cleaning alongside soap. In comparison, hard water leaves soap ineffective and causes you to use more of it. Softened water can even benefit pets as they create shinier and sleeker hair. It is recommended that you keep consuming soft water at a minimum.

7. Water Softeners Allow Water Appliances to Last Longer

Minerals can build up in coffee makers, dishwashers, washing machines, and other water appliances, which can cause them to work harder. Eventually, these devices can burn out from the intensity or the clogging of minerals within the machines. These appliances may have to be replaced.

While you can clean out these appliances regularly and prevent the minerals from building up, it may be easier to purchase a water softener, which will stop the minerals from entering these appliances in the first place.

Bottom Line: When water appliances use hard water, the devices can clog from the mineral build up and burn out. To prevent this, you can clean these devices regularly or you can use a water softener in your home.

8. Water Softeners Reduce Monthly Energy Costs

When hard water produces build up in your pipes and water appliances, your water heaters will be working more than it should to produce your desired effects in your home. This means that the amount that you will be spending on your water heater will increase.

Yet, these utility costs lessen when a water softener is used in a household.

People sometimes avoid purchasing a water softener because they assume that it costs too much year-round, but they are mistaken. In fact, the cost of using a water softener in one year is the same as the cost of using an alarm clock within the same time period.

For regeneration concerns, the more up-to-date water softeners only regenerate when necessary (typically about 5 times each month).

In regards to salt use, generally only 10 bags of salt are used in newer water softeners each year, which is an upgrade to older water softeners. Cost-wise, you may have to purchase more salt than you would if you did not have a water softener, however using a water softening would decrease water bills, and comparatively, paying for salt is cheaper than paying for water.

Additionally, if you choose a water softener that uses potassium instead of sodium to regenerate, it may cost more to purchase the potassium.

Bottom Line: With a water softener, your utility bills will lower due the decreased amount of water that you will use. However, you may have to pay for salt or potassium for the regeneration process in the water softeners, though the purchase of these items could be worth it to save money on water overall.

9. Water Softeners Increase Sodium Intake

Though some people are on strict low sodium diets, sodium is still a vital mineral that needs to be consumed regularly for a healthy lifestyle. Water softeners do, in fact, contribute to a your sodium intake especially if you are drinking beverages that have been processed through a water softener.

Though water softeners do increase sodium intake, it is not a very large one, and if you are looking to consume more sodium, it is best to do so through the consumption of foods rather than water.

Very few people need to eat more sodium, however. Actually, consuming too much sodium may cause cardiovascular health problems such as high blood pressure. Therefore, it is recommended that you do not drink softened water. The main purpose of a water softener is to keep utensils, appliances, pipes, and surfaces clean. It does not produce healthier drinking water.


Bottom Line: Sodium is a necessary mineral that needs to be consumed modestly and regularly for a healthy lifestyle. Your sodium intake can increase by drinking softened water, but only slightly. It is recommended that you avoid drinking an abundance of softened water because there is already too much sodium in people’s diets.

10. Water Softeners Decrease Mineral Consumption

Though the consumption of most minerals are significant to living a long and healthy life, there is the possibility of consuming too many minerals. For example, calcium is responsible in maintaining strong bones, muscle movement, timely nerve reactions, healthy blood pressure, and the release of hormones and enzymes in the body.

However, getting too much calcium can cause constipation and a higher risk of getting kidney stones, prostate cancer, and heart disease. Eating a lot of dairy products and grains can raise calcium levels in the body. Drinking soft water rather than hard water can keep calcium levels low, though drinking soft water should be kept at a minimum.

Magnesium can also be found in hard water, and, though it is unlikely, it is possible to have an overdose of magnesium. In healthy doses, magnesium is useful in disposing toxins in the body through urine, feces, and sweat.

People who are at risk of magnesium overdose include those who are subject to or have had experience with kidney failure, renal failure, or chronic constipation. Signs of a magnesium overdose are confusion, musculoskeletal weakness, slurred speech, low blood pressure, and slow heart rate. Serious side effects of magnesium overdose is cardiopulmonary arrest and death.

Magnesium levels in the body can be regulated by drinking some soft water, but only by a little.

Bottom Line: Drinking softened water is not recommended, but drinking some can keep calcium and magnesium levels in check, too much of which can cause constipations, kidney stone, prostate cancer, and heart disease.


The most common means for removing water hardness rely on ion-exchange resin or reverse osmosis. Other approaches include precipitation methods and sequestration by the addition of chelating agents.

Ion-exchange resin method

Conventional water-softening appliances intended for household use depend on an ion-exchange resin in which “hardness ions”—mainly Ca2+ and Mg2+—are exchanged for sodium ions.  As described by NSF/ANSI Standard 44, ion-exchange devices reduce the hardness by replacing magnesium and calcium (Mg2+ and Ca2+) with sodium or potassium ions (Na+ and K+).”

Ion exchange resins are organic polymers containing anionic functional groups to which the divalent cations (Ca++) bind more strongly than monovalent cations (Na+). Inorganic materials called zeolites also exhibit ion-exchange properties. These minerals are widely used in laundry detergents. Resins are also available to remove the carbonate, bicarbonate, and sulphate ions that are absorbed and hydroxide ions that are released from the resin.

When all the available Na+ ions have been replaced with calcium or magnesium ions, the resin must be recharged by eluting the Ca2+ and Mg2+ions using a solution of sodium chloride or sodium hydroxide, depending on the type of resin used.  For anionic resins, regeneration typically uses a solution of, sodium hydroxide (lye) or potassium hydroxide. The waste waters eluted from the ion-exchange column containing the unwanted calcium and magnesium salts are typically discharged to the sewage system.

How Water Softeners Work

A water softener is packed with resin beads. Hard water with calcium and magnesium flows through this resin and, in a process called ion exchange, the hardness ions in the water trade places with soft ions on the resin beads. The result is soft water.

Over time, the resin beads in the water softener will become covered with calcium and magnesium ions, diminishing their capacity to soften hard water. Through a process called regeneration, water is automatically flushed through the water softener with a concentrated amount of regenerant. Now the resin beads pick up the soft ions from the regenerant in exchange for the hardness on the beads. Some water softener systems feature a whole house water filtration with its patented self-cleaning dirt and sediment filter, so both the dissolved rock and dirt and sediment are sent down the drain. With the resin beads “recharged,” the water softener goes back to service, providing the whole house with clean, soft water.


Lime softening

Lime softening is the process in which lime is added to hard water to make it softer. It has several advantages over the ion-exchange method but is mainly suited to commercial treatment applications.

Chelating agents

 Chelators are used in chemical analysis, as water softeners, and are ingredients in many commercial products such as shampoos and food preservativesCitric acid is used to soften water in soaps, personal care products and laundry detergents. A commonly used synthetic chelator is ethylene diaminetetra acetic acid (EDTA), which may exist as a tetrasodium or bisodium salt. Due to environmental and aquatic toxicity concerns regarding widespread use of EDTA in household and personal care products, alternatives such as sodium phytate/phytic acid, tetrasodium glutamate diacetate and trisodium ethylenediamine disuccinate are finding more prevalent usage.

Distillation and rain water

Since Ca2+ and Mg2+ exist as nonvolatile salts, they can be removed by distilling the water. Distillation is too expensive in most cases. Rainwater is soft because it is naturally distilled during the water cycle of evaporation, condensation and precipitation.

Reverse osmosis

Reverse osmosis (RO) takes advantage of hydrostatic pressure gradients across a special membrane. The membrane has pores large enough to admit water molecules for passage; hardness ions such as Ca2+ and Mg2+ will not fit through the pores. The resulting soft water supply is free of hardness ions without any other ions being added. Membranes are a type of water filter requiring regular cleaning or replacement maintenance.

Non-chemical devices

Some manufacturers claim that their electronic devices affect the interaction of minerals with water so that the minerals do not bind to surfaces. Since these systems do not work by exchanging ions, like traditional water softeners do, one benefit claimed for the user is the elimination of the need to add salt to the system. While particle size reduction and plant growth promotion have been claimed, such systems do not remove minerals from the water itself. Rather, they can only alter the downstream effects that the mineral-bearing water would otherwise have. Examples are remediation of calcium scaling and remediation of salt crusts in soil. These systems do not fall within the term “water softening” but rather “water conditioning”.

Similar claims for magnetic water treatment are not considered to be valid. For instance, no reduction of scale formation was found when such a magnet device was scientifically tested.

The above methods, of distillation and reverse osmosis, are the most widely used two non-chemical methods of water softening.

Environmental impact

Softened water (measured as residual sodium carbonate index) in which calcium and magnesium have been partly replaced by sodium is not suitable for irrigation use, as it tends to cause the development of alkali soils. Non-chemical devices are often used in place of traditional water softening for this application.


Benefits of Salt-Free vs. Traditional Salt-Based Softeners

There are two types of water softeners, a salt based water softener and a salt-free water softener. Salt based water softeners will give you more of the “slick” feeling in the shower and you will notice the soap creating more bubbles. Other benefits you will see include brighter colors in your clothes, reduced scale build-up on your showers and softer skin.

Salt-free systems will also reduce scale buildup and provide brighter clothes and softer skin using a healthier method. The main benefit with salt-free systems is the ability to soften water without having to add sodium to the water. This is a more heart healthy and environmentally friendly system. Traditional salt-based systems add salt to the water which can have a negative effect on people with high-blood pressure and heart disease. Some cities are starting to ban salt-based softeners due to the high sodium content in the waste water. Salt-free systems are maintenance free and use no waste water, no electricity and no salt or chemicals. In comparison to salt-based systems, salt-free systems are extremely low maintenance because the media can last up to five years without replacing. Salt-based systems require the salt to be replenished on a monthly basis.

Salt-based systems are heavy duty systems that do an excellent job removing hardness. They come with several maintenance and health concerns so it is mostly recommended to homeowners with extreme hardness levels. Salt-less systems are 100% salt-free and provide safe water families with infants, children and the elderly. Enjoy a peace of mind with salt-free softened water without the hassles of sodium, chemicals, wastewater and higher electricity bills.

Considerations When Choosing the Right Water Softener

While most water softeners are useful in many aspects, some contain more beneficial features than others do. In addition, each one differs in water use and how it affects the environment. In fact, some states banned certain water softeners for the damage that they may cause.

Therefore, it is important that you do your research when looking for a water softener. Do not just search for a water softener that adheres to your needs and preferences, but choose one that is environmentally safe and is approved by the proper authorities.

1. Types of Water Softeners

You can choose a water softener that has a programmable time clock. These water softeners will regenerate on a schedule of your choosing and will return to softening the water as normal. The problem with these types of water softeners is that they tend to waste a lot of water and salt as they regenerate.

Demand-control models will also be able to regenerate automatically, but only after it has softened a certain amount of gallons of water. These models can regenerate either with electrical or mechanical sensors. You are encouraged to use these models if you are flexible with your water use.

Other water softener options are salt based water softeners and salt-free water softeners. Salt based water softeners tend to produce better result in the softness of your water, the effectiveness of soap when cleaning, the brightness in your clothes after a load of laundry, and the tenderness in your skin.

Salt-free water softeners, on the other hand, can do everything that a salt based softener can do, but without any sodium. It is a healthier option, and one that is better for the environment. They also require no maintenance and use no waste water.

Bottom Line: You can choose a water softener that regenerates whenever you prefer or a water softener that regenerates after it softens a few gallons. Salt-free water softeners may be better over salt based devices because they are healthier, more convenient, environmentally safe, and saves water. Whichever you decide depends on how much water you are planning on using.

2. Maintenance Required in Each Water Softener

Before operating your water softener, it is recommended that you read its manual or manufacturer’s instructions. There is a certain procedure that needs to be done in each water softener, but depending on the manufacturer or the device, the procedure may be slightly altered. Should something go wrong, the water softener may not perform well.

In most water softeners, the brine solution must be kept in the brine tank and stirred regularly. Clogging of the resin can also occur in many water softeners, but can be resolved through backwashing or mixing the resin during the backwash cycle. Filtrating iron out of the water before softening will prevent the resin from clogging as well.

You should also disinfect the water with chlorine bleach before it is placed in the water softener, so that bacteria and fungi does not grow inside the resin. If a resin is already contaminated, you can use a commercial cleaner on it or else have it replaced. You should speak with your water softener dealer for advice if you wish to perform the latter.

Bottom Line: The procedure required in maintaining a water softener is basically the same for each model, with some slight alterations, which should be consulted through a manual or water softener dealer. Most models, however, have a brine tank that needs to be mixed regularly and a resin that can clog is iron is not filtered out of the water. Commercial cleaners can unclog the resin.

3. Water Softeners and Their Sizes

You can determine which size water softener to use by performing a certain equation.The factors involved in this equation is the capacity (or number of grains per regeneration, which you can determine from the water softener device), the average amount of gallons a person uses each day, the amount of raw water hardness (measured in grain per gallon), and the number of people in one household.

By multiplying the average amount of gallons a person uses per day by the amount of raw water hardness, and they multiplying that with the number of people in a household, you will get the number of grains your home will use per day. You then divide your capacity number by this number, and you will get your average day regeneration cycle.

You ought to base your water softener size preferences on how long you wish the regeneration cycle to be. Assuming that your water softener will regenerate every 6 or 7 days, you will be using more water on those days because of this. The larger the water softener, the larger the regeneration cycle.

However, the more time there is between each water cycle, the more water you may save overall. Make sure to choose one that fits best with your needs.

Bottom Line: The larger the water softener, the longer the regeneration cycle and the more time there is between cycles. You should take the time to calculate which size water softener is best for your budget and preferences.

4. Get a Water Softener that Automatically Switches to the Regeneration Cycle

When in the regeneration cycle, the resin is backwashed with a salt mixture. This needs to be done in every water softener because resin is an inexhaustible substance that can build up hardened minerals overtime. Resin will then become useless in softening water.

After the resin is backwashed, the calcium and magnesium that it had absorbed is reverse flushed through the water softener. The resin is then able to soften water. The only issue is when it needs to be done.

In certain water softeners, switching to the regeneration cycle will have to be done manually. However, if you purchase a water softener that will switch to this cycle automatically and then return to its regular functions after this task is complete, switching the cycles manually will be one less thing you will have to worry about.

Additionally, if you forget to change the cycles, your water softener may not be performing its functions correctly, thus a waste of money.

Bottom Line: Every water softener needs to go through a regeneration cycle which extracts the calcium and magnesium that the resin absorbs from the water and reverse flushes them. If this is not done regularly, the resin will not be able to soften the water. For your convenience, it is best to choose a water softener that can switch to the regeneration cycle automatically.

5. Make Sure Your Diet Allows for a Water Softener

For all the advantages of a water softener, they may not be suitable for everyone due to their use of sodium. Those who have low sodium diets may experience a larger intake of sodium when using a water softener which involves 7.5 milligrams of the substance per quart of each grain per gallon of calcium and magnesium removed from their water.

Likewise, since both calcium and magnesium will be removed from the water, it will also be reduced from your diets.

If you still want a water softener, but you are on a low sodium diet, you can use potassium in your water softeners instead. Potassium is more expensive to sodium, but depending on your diet and your state regulations, purchasing potassium for your water softener may not be avoided.

Bottom Line: Water softeners that use sodium may not be the best for those on low sodium diets. As a substitute, water softeners that use potassium are available, but there are more expensive.

6. How Much Should Your Water Softener Soften Your Water?

Each water softener only softens the water a certain amount. It is recommended that you search for a water softener that can soften the amount you need. The best way to determine how much your water softener should soften your water is to have your water tested by an independent lab.

The independent lab should be able to determine the water’s classification, the levels varying from soft (less than 1.0 grain per gallon) to very hard (greater than 10.5 grain per gallon). From this test you can figure out which water softener is best for your needs, should you need one at all.

Water softening companies do offer free hardness testing, but it is suggested that you have a third party check your water just in case. If you choose to receive your testing elsewhere, chances are it will not be very expensive.

Bottom Line: If the hardness level in your water is greater than 1.0 grain per gallon, using a water softener may be beneficial to you. To check which classification your water falls under, either get a free hardness testing from a water softening company or from an independent lab.

7. Determine Which Water to Soften

Within the home, some water can be softened, but other water does not necessarily have to be. For example, water in showers, sinks, and laundry should probably be softened because these are areas where your body will be in contact with water the most often.

More specifically, household drinking and cooking only uses up to 1 gallon per day while washing clothes can use up to 33 gallons per use and bathing or showering uses up to 60 gallons of water per use. You should use this scale to place your water softener or water softeners where you see fit. 1 gallon = 4.54 liters.

On the other hand, water in toilets, outside spigots, and basement sinks can probably be ignored because either you will not use these items or the water in these items will not get in contact with your skin very often.

You should also decide whether it is worth it to soften your cold water. Since you are most likely going to use warm or hot water, it may cost less to soften hot water only.

Bottom Line: What kind and how many water softeners you should get depends on where and how you plan on using it. Water in showers, sinks, and in laundry rooms may need water softeners because you use the water there often. Likewise, hot water should be softened over cold water because you use it more often as well.


Having a water softener in your home generally does more good for your appliances, pipes, and utensils than with your general health. However, if your appliances, pipes, and utensils work well and look well, it can boost your mood. There is nothing more obnoxious than a clogged pipe, the result of hard water.

With a clogged pipe, water pressure can lower, and finding the pipes that are responsible for the problems can be difficult and replacing them can be costly. Additionally, when the water pressure is low, you tend to use up more water to compensate.

Soap can also be overused, which poses as another waste of money. Soap film as well as mineral deposits can clog washing machines and dishwashers, which are difficult and expensive to replace.

The only significant downside to owning a water softener is drinking or consuming it. Though, there can be some advantages to drinking softened water, like it can increase sodium intake and decrease calcium and magnesium levels in the body, these slight health benefits may not work for everyone.

In fact, it has been recommended that people do not drink softened water. It should only be used to keep utensils clean and appliances working efficiently.

To purchase a water softener, you can choose between many options, the main ones being those that regenerate with salt and those that regenerate with potassium. Though water softeners that use potassium are better for your health, they do cost more to maintain. On the other hand, salt water softeners are more common in households.

There is a certain amount of maintenance involved in a water softener. Each device is different and it is suggested that you read the manual for whichever water softener you have so that you are able to use it well and effectively.

The type of water softener that you get depends on what you intend to use it for. Water softeners are typically used for areas where you use the water the most, such as your bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.

Finally, the most important thing to remember when it comes to a water softener is the price, which, of course, depends on the size of the device and the features it has. The best water softeners can process the most water and generally have an automatic regeneration feature.

Therefore, it is recommended that you determine which water you want to soften, test exactly how much water your water softener should soften (which can be figured out through an independent lab), and limit your search for a water softener to those that can handle the appropriate grain per gallon.

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