If you live in an area where municipal water supplies contain large quantities of dissolved minerals, a whole-home water softening system can be a great investment. These systems filter out the minerals present in hard water supplies, preventing scale build-up in home appliances that use water. Softer water is also kinder to your skin and can help prevent skin irritation and dryness.
However, if you want to minimize your household's impact on the environment, you should choose the type of water softening system you install carefully. Some water softeners are definitely more eco-friendly than others.
Which Water Softening Systems Are Eco-Friendly?
Reverse Osmosis Water Softeners
Reverse osmosis water softening systems are widely considered the gold standard of home water softeners and remove more mineral content from water than any other water softener type. These systems use semi-permeable synthetic membranes to remove virtually all traces of mineral content from water, and will also remove harmful contaminants such as lead and arsenic.
Unfortunately, reverse osmosis systems leave a lot to be desired when it comes to environmental friendliness. They waste significant quantities of contaminated wastewater, which flows directly into your drains. They also rely on powerful, high-pressure water pumps to function effectively, and these pumps will require considerable amounts of energy.
Magnetic Water Softeners
These unique water softening systems use electromagnetic coils to treat the water that passes through them. Magnetic metallic contaminants, such as nickel, are attracted to the magnets and filtered out of the water supply. The powerful magnetic field also affects non-metallic contaminants, such as calcium, changing their molecular structure.
These water softening systems are more eco-friendly than reverse osmosis systems, as they do not waste any water. However, they do require electrical power to function and will raise your home's energy usage by a small but significant amount.
It should also be noted that these systems do not significantly lower the mineral content of water. However, the minerals that are altered by the magnetic field are less likely to cause scale build-up or skin irritation than unaltered minerals.
Ion Exchange Water Softeners
These popular and economical water softeners pass water through a chamber containing resin beads, which have been soaked in a brine solution carrying a negative ionic charge. Mineral molecules in the water are attracted to these beads and replaced with sodium molecules present in the brine solution.
Ion exchange water softeners require very little electricity, and most models only require a small motor to operate the valve between the softening chamber and the regeneration chamber where the resin beads are stored. They will not cause a significant increase in your home's energy consumption and do not waste any water, making them very environmentally friendly.
The only real downside of ion exchange water softeners is that they increase the sodium content of your home's water supply. This increase is not significant, and will not make the water unsafe to drink or cause corrosion in appliances. However, you should use caution if you have a medical condition that requires you to limit your sodium intake.
For more information on water treatment systems, contact a professional near you.