Published: September 12, 2018

    Salt-Based Water Softeners and Their Impact on the Environment

    Water hardness is a common issue that can plague homes with problems ranging from broken down appliances to scale on plumbing and dishware. Treating hard water is simpler than ever with modern water softening technology, but common water softeners that are salt-based have an overall negative impact on the environment.

    At Pelican Water we pride ourselves on being the industry leader in water softener alternatives and conditioning, offering solutions to the problems homeowners face without introducing salt into wastewater. But why is saltwater discharge so harmful to the environment? Read on to find out the true cost of salt-based water softeners.

    How Salt-Based Softeners Work

    Salt-based water softeners remove calcium and magnesium ions from hard water by replacing these ions with sodium ions. Within the resin tank of salt-based water softeners an ion exchange occurs, reducing the mineral count while increasing the overall salt content of the water.

    Over time the ion-exchange process will cause hardness minerals to accumulate in the conditioning tank of the unit. These minerals must be flushed down the wastewater drain in the form of salt brine, reintroducing these minerals into the water supply in concentrated doses. By relying on ion exchange salt-based softeners directly dump massive amounts of sodium chloride into local waterways.

    Each time a new salt bag is added and the resin within a salt-based water softener is recharged a concentrated brine is used during the regeneration process. The complete process creates backwash, salt brine, and additional wastewater from the final rinse.

    All salt-based water softeners use bags of sodium chloride in order to perform their basic functions. Homeowners may not realize how much salt is being added into local waterways each year: Americans spent approximately $400 million in 2007 to purchase 3.5 million bags of salt for use in water softening systems, according to the Salt Institute of America. That amount of sodium chloride being added into national sewage systems each year can alter the foundations of our water ecosystem.

    How Salt Damages the Environment

    Salt used in salt-based water softeners breaks down into sodium and chloride when discharged. Through the sewers these elements will reach your local water treatment plant, and can be emitted into groundwater or surface water.

    Chloride, once introduced into a delicate ecosystem, can cause damage to freshwater plant life and organisms by increasing species mortality rates, disrupting reproductive patterns, and changing the entire ecosystem. These elements can also put a strain on plant respiration and change the composition and drinkability of our water supply. Sodium and chloride cannot be degraded or separated from the water during the treatment process other than through expensive processes like industrial reverse osmosis, so when salt-based water softeners are used its effects are often irreversible.

    In order to reduce your household’s emissions of salt compounds install a

    NaturSoft® water softener alternative with salt free technology from Pelican Water that neutralized the effects of hardness minerals and prevents scale buildup without introducing sodium chloride into the water supply. Natural conditioning is the eco-friendly and cost-effective solution to your water softening needs.