Home Water Softeners
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Concerns about home water softeners
While there's no doubt that home water softeners are very effective at removing the 'hardness' from water and in doing so preventing a build-up of scale, decomposition of pipes and many other things, there are some serious concerns about them. Although most households now have a home water softener installed, the arguments against the systems need to be addressed.
The main concern hinges on the amount of salt that needs to be added to the system in order to remove calcium and magnesium ions. Although some manufacturing companies claim that the amount of salt included in the soft water that exits the system is insignificant, for many people it is a real health concern, especially for those on a sodium-restricted diet. For anyone suffering hypertension, kidney disease or some forms of heart problem the suggestion of hidden salt being consumed through their drinking water is worrying. In response to this, some companies have begun to promote the use of potassium chloride in place of sodium chloride. However, as this is also a salt, it does not alleviate the problem entirely. Some people choose to branch their water pipes so that the water used for drinking and cooking can bypass the home water softener.
Again, due to the salt content, water that has passed through a home water softener should not be used to water gardens or crops as the salt can affect the plant growth. In states where waste water is re-used for irrigation, authorities are introducing laws to restrict or ban the use of water softeners for this reason.
With any additional installation, the issue of cost is always at the forefront of peoples' minds, and home water softeners are no exception. On average, 300 liters of fresh water are required each time the system regenerates and so the amount of water used when you have a water softener installed is significantly higher than without. To help minimize costs, choose a system that is water-efficient, and check how often it regenerates and how much water this requires each time. Salt needs to be added regularly, but if bought in large bags, this needn't be too costly. If you choose to buy potassium chloride instead, this will be three or four times more expensive.