The Effects of Water Softeners on Skin and Hair
Hard water has been tentatively linked to several chronic conditions, such as childhood eczema and cardiovascular disease, and hard water without a doubt will damage plumbing, fixtures, clothing, and appliances over time with mineral scale. This alone makes a water softener worth the cost. Not every area has hard water, but homes served by hard water will benefit from the addition of a water softener. There are different types of water softeners to choose from, and each has different effects on personal health.
Types of Softeners
All softeners work by exchanging calcium and magnesium ions in water with salt. Sodium chloride from evaporated seawater and mining is a common choice, but it can mean problems for people on sodium-restricted diets. Potassium chloride may be used instead for the same ion exchange. The primary difference in softeners is the size and method of salt regeneration. Meter-controlled units are most efficient at conserving salt usage. It is important to properly size the unit to avoid paying too much for unused capacity or having to recharge the unit too often.
The first step in choosing a softener is to determine just how hard the water is in the area. A water hardness map will provide a general overview, but this task ultimately requires a hardness indicator. These come in strips and can be found at pet stores in combination tests for pH and acidity. Once a softener has been sized according to the number of people using it and grains of hardness, water should be retested for sodium content. If this is higher than 300mg/L, the system will need adjustment.
Benefits to Personal Health
High sodium content is a concern for many people, but the amount of sodium entering the water supply is quite small compared to daily intake. Still, it may make sense to use a filter to remove sodium at the tap or switch to potassium chloride.
Water softening offers several benefits to the skin and hair, if one realizes that many commercial bathing products are designed for hard water application. It will be necessary to replace these products with those designed for soft water. Once this is done, soft water benefits include:
- better cleaning with fewer residues left behind
- silkier hair
- clear pores and follicles
The same mineral scaling on pipes and fixtures caused by hard water will occur when it is used for bathing. Mineral build-up on hair and skin can be prevented with water softeners.
If you are looking to purchase a water softener, consider kinetic water softener.