We have all heard of it – but what exactly is soft water?
Or, for that matter, hard water?
Whether your water supply consists of hard or soft water is determined by the geology of the ground that the rain in your region falls upon.
Pure rainwater is naturally soft, but the when it passes through limestone regions, which Ireland has a lot of, it picks up calcium and magnesium minerals in its path which make the water hard.
The granite areas of the north, south and west do not contain the same minerals and so the water remains ‘soft’. And with the development of water distribution networks, some parts of the Ireland which have historically been soft water areas, are now beginning to experience hard water.
As hard water is heated (e.g. in washing machines, showers, kettles etc), the Calcium and Magnesium separate out and form a crust on surfaces they come into contact with. This is what we know as limescale.
Efficiency: If you’ve purchased costly high efficiency appliances they can cut back on energy and save money in the long run. However, if hard water is used in high efficiency appliances, efficiency decreases in dramatic records. With soft water, appliances like dishwashers and washing machines can retain their original factory efficiency rating. When using soft water, an efficient water heater can save you up to 30% per year on water heating costs, maintaining their proficiency for as long as 15 years, whereas with hard water you’ll most likely need to invest in a new machine in half the time.
You and your family: hard water can also affect you and your family’s health by resulting in serious skin conditions, such as cracking, flaking, and even eczema. The white scum from hard water that you see on your fixings also accumulates on your body—your skin, hair, and nails. The natural oils of your body, which are distributed through your skin pores become clogged by an excess of minerals in your water.
Appliances: Scale from hard water can cause plumbing problems, damaging your water absorbing appliances, placing them at risk of unnecessary wear and tear. These vital appliances become less effective until they eventually break beyond repair. According to a study completed by the Water Quality Association, by using soft water in your home, you won’t have to replace major appliances as often or pay for costly maintenance visits nearly as regularly.
How A Water Softener Works
Water softeners that use the process of ‘ion-exchange’ are the only proven solution to removing limescale from your water permanently.
Hard water is softened by removing the calcium and magnesium it contains. When hard water passes through the softening system’s resin bed, the calcium and magnesium (hardness) ions are removed through an ion exchange process, so only softened water passes through to your home.
Once the resin bed fills up with hardness ions, it must be regenerated (go through a cleaning process). Salt is typically used in the regeneration process and restores the resin to a “clean” state so the ion exchange process can begin again.