When it is about using water softeners and softening the water through it, the most important concern users come across is their potential impacts on health.
Most users don’t consume water softened using a softener, because they think it is harmful to their health.
Is softened water is harmful? Are there any health concerns regarding drinking softened water, if yes, what are those side effects?
In this post, we are going to answer all this. I am sure by reading this post, you will learn whether or not you should drink softened water, and its potential side effects.
Before we get into the details of the side effects of hard water, let’s learn in detail what makes water hard.
What is Hard Water?
Hard water contains high contamination of minerals such as calcium, magnesium carbonates, chlorides, or sulfates. How hard your water is mainly determined by its source?
If it is coming from the ground that has been in contact with porous rocks, it will contain rocks and limestones, it will be very hard, way hard compare to other sources.
The hardness of the water is measured with grains per gallon or parts per million. Water with less than 60 ppm is taken as soft, in between 60-120 considered moderately hard, and above 120 considered hard.
If you take these measurements in GPG, water less than 3 GPG is considered soft, in between 3-6 is considered moderately hard, and above 7 to 10 is considered hard, above 10 is very hard.
Hard water decreases the efficiency of detergents and soaps, and interfaces their actions.
It also clogs your pipes and faucets by producing Calcium sulfate, calcium carbonates, and Magnesium Hydroxide.
How Hard water becomes soft water using a softener?
If you are living in a state where you get tap water such as Arizona and various others, you are likely to many issues including health impacts.
For those who get hard water from municipal governments, it is imperative to use a water softener.
A water softener is an appliance that turns hard water into soft water. Water Softeners come in various sizes, shapes, and types.
If you buy one that follows the salt-based ion exchange method, which is common in the United States, you get soft water without any issue.
But how the softener turns hard water into soft water, and make it useable not only for regular household use but for drinking purpose as well.
You already know that hard water is hard because of minerals dissolved into it, right. If you by any method you could remove those minerals, it will turn into soft water.
In a water softener, you replace those minerals with sodium ions or salt ions. It is done by pushing the hard water through a resin beads container that contains sodium ion charged.
When water passed through those beads, the positive ion on the beads is replaced by the calcium or magnesium ions dissolved in the water. The sodium ions cling to the water particle, and there you get soft water.
Now it is soft water, you can get all the benefits of soft water such as the water allows the soap to lather, rinse skin and hair, don’t leave laundry dull or stiff, does not leave residue, does not leave limescale on the pipes and various other things.
Keep in mind, the soft water that we get by softening through the softeners gets rich in sodium ions.
It is not the same as what we get from other sources. That’s why many don’t like drinking that water, although experts assure it is not unhealthy for drinking.
We will see in detail why people don’t like drinking hard water softened through softeners, and what recent developments revealed about it.
Sodium in softened Water
You saw that the process of ion exchange involves replacing sodium ions with minerals. In other words, the harder the water is, the more sodium ions will be required to remove minerals.
In other words, if the water you get is very hard, then probably sodium intake in that water will be in the same proportion.
This is how hard water is turned soft, and it can be impactful on our health if you get very hard water above 10 GPG and turn it into soft water using softeners.
As per the latest data revealed by the City of Mesa, sodium level in the water increases around 8 milligrams per liter for one grain of hardness removed.
For instance, if you get water with a hardness level of 12-17, the softened water will have around 130-140 milligrams of sodium per liter.
Well, for a healthy person suffering no Hypertension, this would not be that much, you can compare it with that, one tablespoon of ketchup contains around 167 milligrams of sodium.
Side effects of drinking softened water
We have seen that softened water comes with added sodium, in the process of softening it through the ion exchange method.
Many people think that added sodium is going to impact their health, especially those already suffering from hypertension, heart diseases, and organs failures.
But if you closely examine the intake of sodium in the water after softening you will see it is negligible. I mentioned above that, in one liter it is roughly 20-30 milligrams.
You can compare that amount with that, one cup of soda contains 80 mg of sodium, one cup of milk contains 100-120 mg of sodium.
Let me add here, as per American Heart Association, an average intake of sodium for a healthy person should be 2500-2300 mg with no negative consequences.
So even if you consume 250 ml of softened water, it will add around 2-percent of the total intake you should take of sodium in 24-hours.
I can assure you that, the amount of sodium you take through the softened water is negligible, and it would not harm your health, unless you are facing a severe problem, and your Doctor Advised you otherwise.
Yes, the impacts of softened water on your plumbing system can be corrosive if you have old metal pipes or faucets installed.
Soft water is more corrosive compared to hard water, it can introduce toxic metals to the metal pipes, if it comes to contact with solid brass, it can produce a high level of leads or lead poisoning.
What you can do is you can have a water bypass softer valve that gives you hard water, you can purify the water through some carbon filters for drinking purposes, but it would be only if you have very old metal or brass pipes.
If you have new pipes installed or you have seen there is no build-up inside the pipes, or you have PVC pipes installed, there is no issue at all.
One more point worth mentioning is that softened water removes all the minerals available in the hard water.
The water that we get from other sources also comes mixed with minerals but their quantity is lower than hard water, and we drink it which completes the intake of the required mineral for our body.
In softened water, the minerals such as calcium and Magnesium are altogether removed.
In other words, softened water has no calcium and magnesium in it, which may produce a deficiency of minerals in our body if you don’t fill it up with other sources.
For health, as long as your doctor advised you not to consume any sodium or very restricted sodium intakes, you should not consume softened water.
If you are a patient with Level 2 Hypertension, Kidney failure or kidney diseases, and cardiovascular diseases, you should not consume softened water.
Can I drink softened water in my home?
As per health experts, drinking softened water is not harmful. There is no side effect of consuming softened water unless you are told by your doctor not to drink softened water.
For a newborn baby, for six weeks and under, you must check baby feed preparation to use softened water for baby food preparation.
You can ask your doctor regarding that because in some babies their kidneys are not fully formed to process high sodium intakes in the softened water.
Additional sodium intakes may disrupt their system and can lead to dehydration.
What’s the alternative to drinking softened water?
If you think that softened water is not for you, or it does not suit you for various unknown reasons, what is an alternative for you?
In my view, you can install a hard water tap as a standard, and use hard water, before it processes in the softener.
You can filter that water through carbon filters, and consume it for drinking, or can use it in a young baby food preparation, because it is original water, with no added sodium intake.
Does soft water hurt plants?
For Plants, experts suggest, hard water is better than soft water. It increases the intake of the mineral and helps them grow fast.
For them, soft water is going to hurt, it has a higher amount of sodium, making them saltier, which can impact their growth.
You might not know; plants don’t go well in a salty environment. It affects their growth, and if it was very hard water softened through the softener, the sodium intake would be higher, which is going to put an adverse effect on them, and in some cases, it might kill them.
Can you filter softened water for drinking?
You can drink soft water unless you are not advised against it. If you don’t like drinking softened water, you can still filter using a carbon filter or reverse osmosis water filters.
They are good at removing metals, and even removing the additional sodium mixed during the softening process.
Softened water is safe to drink, the sodium addition through the softening process is very low, and it would not impact negatively on your health unless you are advised by your doctor not to take extra sodium in your diet.
For young babies, under 4 weeks, it is not recommended to mix softened water in their food preparation, because their kidneys are not fully developed to process additional sodium intakes.
If you are facing severe kidney diseases, Hypertension, Heart diseases, and you don’t take any salt in your food, from natural or artificial sources, you should not consume softened water. There are side effects for you, of drinking softened water.
If for some unknown reason, or fear of corrosive poisoning you don’t want to drink softened water, you can filter it, or can use direct tap water, and filter it using carbon filters.
I am sure by reading this post you have learned that there are no side effects of consuming softened water. And all you listened to from here and there are mere myths nothing else.
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