Many people who want to acquire and install a water softening device in their homes, including those who definitely need one; become concerned about the impact such a device will have on the environment.
Their concerns are justified as some types of water softeners may indeed have a detrimental impact on the environment. Some people follow the following reasoning: ‘hard water has a certain amount of salts dissolved in it which it deposits on the environment every month, a water softener takes these salts and deposits them all at once, but it is the same amount of salts’. However, such reasoning is wrong: a Salt-based water softener does add more salts to the water during the regeneration phase.
It has been estimated that Salt-based water softeners release as much as 6 to 8 mg of sodium for every single gram of water they soften. This sodium is usually harmful to all kinds of plants, even lethal to them.
For those concerned about this and other possible effects on the environment, there are two other options regarding water softeners besides the Salt-based ones: Salt-free water softeners and Magnetic conditioners. Of these two, the Salt-free softeners truly get rid of water hardness by permanently modifying the atomic structure of the salts that cause it, while Magnetic conditioners temporarily disable these salts (for not longer than 48 hours) without permanently fixing the problem like true softeners do (although Magnetic conditioners might be more convenient to smaller households).
As additional advantages, Salt-free softeners usually last much longer than Salt-based softeners because they have no moveable or mechanical parts and less electronic components, which also means, besides a longer lifetime of the device, more simplicity and less things that can go wrong. Besides, it needs no salt to work, which means it is cheaper to operate (since replenishing salt on a Salt-based salt can cost you anywhere from $5 to $45 USD a month) and it will also save you the hassle of having to buy a bag of salt every month or so.
Salt-based systems are ok and very efficient at what they do, and many people who need a water softener prefers them and end up choosing one of that kind; however, to people for whom the potential environmental impact of installing and operating a water softening device is an important factor to consider, then a Salt-free water softener, or even a Magnetic conditioner, might be the best alternative.
External links and resources
- Take a look at Salt-based vs. Salt-free water softeners for more information on Salt-free water softeners and how they compare to Salt-based water softeners.
- EPA website on Water Softeners