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Water Softener Myths and Facts


Water Softener Myths and Facts

Myth: Ion Exchange softeners are the only way to soften water

Fact: The term “water softener” is a marketing term used to describe a group of products that can help soften water and there are the two definitions of soft water that need to be considered. If you want soft water defined as water devoid of bivalent mineral (<1 grain per gallon of hardness), reverse osmosis systems, nano filtration systems et cetera may be expensive alternatives, but they do a much better job than water softener without introducing sodium to drinking water. If you want your drinking water to retain it’s healthful mineral, but you want your water to have a softer feel to it and prevent scaling along with other issues that are the primary motivation for considering an softener, you can do so naturally by template induced / assisted crystallization as performed by NaturSoft systems. Some salt companies may claim ion exchange is the only way, but that comes at the price of depriving yourself of the healthful minerals, while consuming sodium which is certainly not considered all that healthy. Click here to learn about the available technologies for dealing with hard water.


Myth: All truly softened water feels slick and “soft” on your skin which is said to be the result of the natural oils in your skin being able to freely interact with perfectly soft water.

Fact: Soft water is water containing low levels of hardness ions. Yet, water like distilled water, reverse osmosis water, de-ionized water, rain water et cetera does not produce the slippery effect on your skin, even though all those types of water contain virtually zero hardness minerals.

Water that has been chemically softened by the ion exchange process used by a salt based water softener removes the so-called “nuisance minerals” (often defined as calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese) because they can be associated with staining and scale formation. These minerals occur dissolved in water as bivalent ions. During the “softening” process each of one (1) these nuisance mineral ions gets replaced by two (2) sodium ions (or potassium ions depending on the type of salt used during regeneration). The by product of this process it the creation of a proportionate amount of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in the water. The harder the raw water, the slicker the softened water. Sodium bicarbonate is a surfactant which imparts a soft or slick feel to the water. Please demonstrate to yourself: add baking soda to water with virtually any hardness – and the water will feel soft.


Myth: Ion exchange (salt) softeners don’t introduce any sodium to the water.

Fact: The definition of ion exchange is exchanging one ion for one or more other ions. Ions are the electrically charged dissolved form an element. Calcium and magnesium ions carry a double positive charge (++). Sodium carries a single (+) electric charge. Thus, for every calcium ion removed, two sodium ions are introduced to the water. It is for that reason some companies will sell RO systems for under the sink simply to remove the newly introduced sodium whether are not they expressing that to be their purpose.


Myth: Softened water tastes better.

Fact: Taste is obviously highly subjective. However, if this were true that the taste of softened water is superior, why do people pay good money to drink bottled water? Bottled spring water is indeed purchased precisely for it’s taste (which is due to it’s mineral content) and the healthful benefit that consumption of mineral water (like Evian) is said to provide.


Myth: Water softeners will filter or purify my water

Fact: The term “Water Softeners” refers to a group of water treatment products whose main purpose is to reduce or eliminate hard water conditions on water with high levels of calcium. They will not do anything other than remove multivalent mineral or metals from the water. Any micro-organisms, chemicals and most sediment present in the raw water will still be present after softening. If you are interested in removing things like chlorine and other chemicals, you would want to look into a whole house carbon filter system.


Myth: Hard water fades clothing and dries my skin and hair

Fact: Let’s start with fading clothing. Consumer Reports recently conducted a test of three different brand name laundry detergents and found that the detergent you use has a drastic effect on how long your clothing will last and keep it from fading. Don’t be fooled, hard water isn’t fading your clothing, your detergent is. They recommend switching to cold water, and use only as much detergent as needed. In addition to your detergent, chlorine in your municipal tap water is a factor on fading, or more accurately bleaching your laundry.

As for your skin and hair, typical dry skin and hair is the result of chlorine in the water which will dry out your skin and hair. Remember how your skin and hair are affected after swimming in a chlorinated pool? Get a whole house water filter to prevent the drying when you have chlorine in your water.


Myth: Hardness is a contaminate that should be removed

Fact: You are probably laughing a little bit at this one, but the fact is many salt salesmen use this line to make you want to get a softener. The fact is that calcium and other minerals are essential to life and are no more a contaminate than hydrogen and nitrogen are in our air. The only real downside to higher amounts of calcium is the scale damage that can occur to your appliances. That’s where a water softener, like the Pelican Natursoft can be a huge money saver while keeping the natural minerals in your water.

Pelican Combo System Salt-Free Water Softener Whole-House Water Filter


  • John Koenig

    Our bodies use organic minerals as the “healthy” minerals we get through ingestion. The minerals (calcium and magnesium) that are being removed through the “softening” process are inorganic minerals that our bodies cannot digest or use. So to say that the removal of these minerals is not “good” for the body is entirely false. Secondly, the minerals in the water are held there with salt ions so technically, you are adding an extra sodium ion during the exchange process, but not completely. A glass of soda has roughly 3 times more sodium than a glass of softened water (which has about 12 – 13mg) and a slice of bread can have up to as much as 20 times that of a glass of softened water. So there is no danger there. Lastly, you are half right about the chlorine. Chlorine is a gas that evaporates rather quickly and this evaporating is what causes the drying on the skin. However, untreated water has been shown to cause dry skin and irritation which is compounded by the effects of the chlorine.