Archive for July, 2019

Water Testing – Your Water’s Report Card

Posted by Rayne Water

If you have children in school, you’re likely familiar with the periodic report card coming home. Sometimes, this is the only way you know how your child is performing in school. It’s helpful in showing what your child does well, what she does poorly, and what improvements need to be made. A water test is like a report card for your water supply and can give you important insights into the safety and quality of your drinking water.

What is a water test?

Very simply, a water test measures the types and amounts of certain contaminates existing in your water supply. The various contaminants measured are determined by the type of test, who is doing the testing, and where your water supply is.

Why do I need a water test?

If you live in a community where the water is provided via municipal sources, you may wonder why it’s necessary to have your water tested. Don’t governmental agencies do their own testing to ensure that they’re meeting standards and avoiding any health risks to provide safe water to the public? The short answer is yes, they do. However, the required testing is not always done on time, and officials aren’t always quick to release the results, especially if they result in unsatisfactory levels of water quality. Play it safe, avoid the risk, and get your own water tested regularly.

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How often should I get a water test?

According to the National Ground Water Association, individuals with wells should get their water tested at least once a year. The test should look for bacteria, nitrates, or any other contaminant that is a health concern in your location. For example, if E. coli was found in your neighbors’ wells, you might want to have your water tested for the same.

While local agencies do undergo periodic testing of their water supplies, it certainly doesn’t hurt to get your own test done at least once a year if you’re relying on them for your clean water. If nothing else, it will provide you with peace of mind that you have safe, quality, potable water. Of course, you should get a water test done sooner if you notice a change in the look or smell of your tap water – this is true regardless of the water source.

How do I get my water tested?

Water tests can be done by local laboratories or agencies. The homeowner is typically given instructions for the collection of a water sample, and the sample is then tested for the contaminants in question. This costs money, however, and accurate results hinge on accurate collection techniques.

Rayne makes it easy – we offer a FREE water test completed by one of our knowledgeable technicians. When the results are in, we’ll even let you know if we recommend a home water treatment system or drinking water system to ensure you have the best water possible.

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10 Things You Never Knew A Water Softener Could Do

Posted by Rayne Water

Water quality in the U.S. has been making national headlines, which may have you considering filtration options more seriously and exploring options available to you. However, with so many options available, it can be hard to understand the pros and cons of each. A well known and popular option is a water softener. A good water softener is one of those appliances that truly makes life a little bit easier because the system takes on some of your workload and makes your home a healthier place to live. There are so many great reasons to invest in a water softener as a solution for filtration, you’ll never regret the decision to install it.

Anyone living with hard water knows that your expenses are higher and your chores are harder because the buildup from the hard minerals in the water require extra soaps and detergents, energy and manual labor to remove. We have a few different models of water softeners to choose from, so no matter what, your home can be fitted with the perfect size and power that you need. All in all, we think you’ll agree with the many other folks who’ve experienced the change from hard water, and that you will love the life changes that softened water can bring.

Water Softener Systems starting at only $35/mo. Try before you buy!

Once you get a good water softener, you will wonder how you ever lived without it. How a water softener works will not only make you look and feel better on the outside, you’ll actually be happier with more time to spend doing things you love rather than cleaning and scrubbing anything around the house that your hard water touches. A recent article from Homesteading Freedom lists many reasons why installing a water softener at home is a good idea, and here are 10 of our favorites:

  1. Your clothes will feel extra clean and soft, look great and will last even longer by having them washed in soft water.
  2. A water softener makes your skin softer and your hair healthier by flushing away bacteria easier and keeping your skin and hair in good condition.
  3. Water-utilizing appliances such as your washing machine, dishwashers, and humidifiers will last longer and work more efficiently with softened water, since they are less likely to become clogged and have issues from mineral formation.
  4. Your water will taste better since a water softener will filter out minerals that can cause unpleasant tastes and smells.
  5. Soft water helps prevent plumbing repairs. With hard water, minerals build up, making pipes more apt to break, clog or need repair.
  6. Softened water can help save you money. You’ll spend less on soaps and detergents, energy bills and repairs or replacement of appliances.
  7. Soft water will keep your kitchen utensils and dishes from having water spots on them, making them nicer to look at and easier to clean.
  8. Heating systems work more efficiently with soft water.
  9. Soft water can help prevent skin issues such as eczema.
  10. With all the money you save with soft water, your water softener will pay for itself in 2-4 years.

There are so many reasons why a water softener is a smart decision aside from the filtration, but now it’s time for you to decide for yourself. We have plenty of information about our water softening products on our website. When you’ve had a chance to do your research, give us a call and let us know you’re ready to start saving time and money! Who knows, it might just be the solution to your water problems you didn’t know you needed.

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Benefits of Soft Water and Having a Water Softener

Posted by Rayne Water

 

*Reviewed by Ken Christopher, Senior Vice President at Rayne Dealership Corporation

There’s a big push for equality in our country – equality between races, genders, social status, and so on. Does this same theme apply to water? Is all water created equal? We don’t think so! Sure, in its purest form, water is water, but once it comes in contact with people and the environment, everything changes. Water can easily become contaminated or hard.

So how do you turn hard water into softened water and what does a water softener do exactly? Our experts are here to explain everything there is to know about water hardness and water softener purpose in your water supply.

What is hard water?

No, we’re not talking about ice here – that’s not the “hard” we’re referring to. In this scenario, it’s what’s IN the water that gives it this description. Hard water contains a buildup of hard minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, which has reached a certain level (greater than 3.5 grains per gallon). While it may not look much different than soft water, hard water can wreak havoc on homes and people, not to mention the household budget. There are many signs of hard water to look for when deciding whether or not you need a water softener system.

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What are the effects of hard water?

If you’re one of many Americans who currently have hard minerals in your home water supply, all you need to do is look around and you’ll notice any or all of these signs of hard water:

Aside from physical signs of mineral buildup around your home, you may also begin to notice hard water effects on hair and skin as well. You might even notice that your laundry is stiff because of the hard water in your washing machine. But what are the benefits and how does a water softener work? Keep reading to find out.

How does water get softened?

The solution to hard water minerals is to install a water softening system in the home. You might be wondering, “what do water softeners do?” This is a water filter device that attaches to the water supply and treats it right at the source, like water treatment. Salt-based water softeners introduce sodium into the water, attracting and removing the excess calcium and magnesium ions and thereby softening the hardness of the water. This will help reduce soap scum residue and other signs of water hardness minerals around your home.

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What are the benefits of soft water?

After you’ve finished installing a water softener for your tap water, the water coursing through the veins of the home (i.e. the plumbing!) is now soft. The benefits of water softeners and its effects on your drinking water are many, and include:

  If you have hard water and don’t yet have a water softener system, why not give us a call? We have both traditional salt-based water softeners, which add sodium ions to remove calcium and magnesium ions, and eco-friendly solutions such as Portable Exchange Tank Service. You deserve a water treatment that’s going to be soft on your hair, your skin, your health, and your laundry.  Your soft water, and all the benefits that come with it, are only a phone call away!

Whether you need a RO system in San Diego or Ventura water softener, we’ve got you covered!

Contact us today at Rayne Water to find a water filter or water conditioner that’s right for you and your home.

Expert Reviewer – Ken Christopher

Can Antiobiotic Resistance be Spread by Wastewater Treatment Plants?

Posted by Rayne Water

On a warm, sunny day, there’s nothing more refreshing than pouring a glass of nice, cold water, right from the tap. You might even add a slice of lemon and voila, you have a tasty drink that’s healthy to boot. That is … as long as you have contaminant-free water.

How safe is your drinking water?

The scary thing is, many people don’t have their water tested regularly, especially if they live in a community served by municipal water sources. After all, the local authorities are responsible for ensuring the water is safe for public use and consumption, right?

While this is generally true, it doesn’t always guarantee contaminant-free water. In fact, recent research indicates that small amounts of antibiotic resistant DNA have been discovered in the products of wastewater treatment plants.

How do antibiotics reach wastewater treatment plants?

If you’ve ever been to the doctor and been diagnosed with a bacterial infection, you’ve likely received a prescription for an antibiotic. These useful drugs help to kill bacteria, or at least slow their growth, giving you a little more sickness fighting power than your body has on its own. During the course of treatment, most of the medication is absorbed and used by your body, but small amounts of antibiotic are excreted through waste. These particles then make their way to wastewater treatment plants.

Are antibiotics fully removed from waste water?

At wastewater treatment plants, contaminated water is cleaned. This often includes a combination of filtration procedures and the use of microscopic bacteria that digest and eliminate waste products found in the water. When these bacteria encounter the “leftover” antibiotics that remain in the waste water, they develop resistance genes, which are then passed on to other bacteria cells. Over time, and as they continue to consume waste products, these bacteria grow in size and also reproduce. This forms what is known as biomass. Where does the biomass go? Most of the time, it is brought to the landfill or used in fertilizers.

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How does antibiotic resistant DNA get into drinking water?

When antibiotic resistant bacteria are found in biomass, it’s easy to see how they can make their way into surrounding soils and eventually into the water supply. But biomass is not the only place that these bacteria are found outside the treatment plants.

Sometimes, the antibiotic resistant bacteria also make it through the filtration systems at wastewater treatment facilities. They are then whisked away from the plant via the effluent, a fancy name for the water that leaves the facility after it has been treated or cleaned. This water is then used in a variety of ways – for irrigation, fighting fires, or replenishing groundwater supplies, just to name a few. Any of these uses can lead to water containing antibiotic resistant bacteria making its way into drinking water.

How to protect your drinking water supply

Whether you have a personal well or rely on municipal water, it’s important to have your water tested periodically to make sure that it is contaminant free and safe to drink. For the ultimate protection, install a Rayne drinking water system and enjoy safe, great tasting water all year long. Then you can relax, pour a glass of water, and drink up!

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Is it Time To Replace Your Water Softener?

Posted by Rayne Water

 

*Reviewed by Ken Christopher, Senior Vice President at Rayne Dealership Corporation

Although a good water softener can last for 10 – 15 years, without proper maintenance and service, it will not last forever. They are actually not meant to last forever, but proper care measures can ensure the lifespan of your water softener is extended to its full capacity. It’s important to learn the answers to common questions such as how long do water softeners last and how should I maintain my water softener? Read on to learn more!

Factors that affect the lifespan of a water softener

Water softeners are built to withstand everyday water usage. There are a few things, however, that can make them break down and reach the end of their useable life more quickly. These include the following:

Water Softener Systems starting at only $35/mo. Try before you buy!

Common signs of water softener failure

So when should a water softener system be replaced? Occasionally, water softeners will simply stop working and it will be obvious. More frequently, however, there are subtle signs that your softener is beginning to fail. Be aware of these water softener problems:

Enlist the services of a water treatment professional

The water softener or water filtration system problems above could also indicate that repair or maintenance is needed, so it’s important to have your system evaluated by a qualified technician to be certain. It may be easier, and cheaper, to simply repair what’s broken instead of replacing the entire system, or let us protect it with our VIP Program. Give us a call and we will be happy to provide you complete peace of mind with our VIP Program or schedule an onsite evaluation of your water softening system. We also offer maintenance-free water softening with our Portable Exchange Tank Service, the perfect option.

We provide water treatment systems in various locations. Whether you are searching for a water softener in Ventura or a water conditioner in San Diego we can help. Reach us out today!

Expert Reviewer – Ken Christopher

What is Soft Water?

Posted by Rayne Water

 

*Reviewed by Ken Christopher, Senior Vice President at Rayne Dealership Corporation

Soft water is highly touted for its beneficial properties, yet most of us don’t have a firm idea of what is meant by soft water. You’ve probably also heard of soft water’s alter ego: hard water. The differences between the two are significant and therefore important to understand in terms of how each can affect your life.

If you find yourself wondering, “what makes water soft?”, you’ve come to the right place. We are going to examine what soft water is, what its main properties are and how hard water compares to soft water. Depending on where you live, you may have used soft water your entire life and never known it, or you may have only had limited exposure to it. In the course of this article, we’ll break down why this might be the case, and also explore methods through which you can get soft water – such as a whole home water softener – even if you live in an area that has very hard water.

By the end of this article, you should have a clear sense of what the benefits of soft water are and conversely what the drawbacks of hard water tend to be. This information will allow you to make an informed decision regarding whether you need a home water softener system in your home or business.

What is Water Hardness?

The easiest way to figure out what is meant by soft water is to understand the concept of water hardness. The idea of a liquid being soft or hard can be confusing, but take a moment and let go of the idea that your water is either physically hard or soft to the touch. Rather, water hardness refers to something that is either present or absent from water.

Specifically, the hardness of water is determined by the amount of calcium and magnesium that has been dissolved in a water sample. Water that is considered hard may also have other minerals present, such as manganese and iron. Conversely, soft water has very low amounts of these minerals.

The mineral composition of the water gives it unique properties. These properties are the core reason that so many people are concerned about how hard their water is. Many properties of hard water tend to be detrimental to specific equipment that we rely on in our modern world due to the presence of these minerals.

How Does Water Hardness Occur?

The development of hard water occurs naturally during the movement of water through the water cycle. Precipitation, or rainwater, does not contain a substantial amount of minerals and is thus considered soft. The mineral content the water contains will rise as the water moves through the soil.

There are a couple of points to unpack here about how water becomes harder. Let’s take a look at each of these three in turn.

Groundwater

Water hardness is really only something that occurs in groundwater. Water starts as soft in its natural form as rainwater, but becomes hard as it moves through the soil and picks up minerals.

Location

There is a strong geographical correlation to whether water is hard or soft. For water to be hard, it must pass through soil that is rich in minerals. This is especially true for calcium and magnesium, which water readily dissolves as it moves through it. If the soil near your water supply has an abundance of chalk and limestone, chances are it will be hard.

Water as a Solvent

You might be wondering how water can dissolve minerals that are found in the soil and crust of the earth. For example, calcium carbonate comprises roughly 4% of the Earth’s crust and is the primary way through which water hardness is measured. Water is able to dissolve this and other minerals because it is a solvent. It has been dubbed the “universal solvent” because of its effectiveness in dissolving minerals. This is due to the polarity of water atoms themselves. Water has both a negative and positive charge on each side, allowing it to attract and dissolve minerals as it passes through the ground.

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What is the Threshold for Soft Water?

By now, you should have a good idea of what makes water soft or hard, but this does little to shed light on the soft water definition. Rather than simply assessing the effect water has or what it feels like – both of which are properties that change depending on hardness – there are simple thresholds that are used to determine whether water is hard.

The thresholds that determine the hardness of water are a measurement of the amount of Grains Per Gallon (GPG) found in a sample of water. These measurements help answer the question, “what is soft water?”

These are the thresholds that define the hardness of water:

What are Some Advantages of Soft Water?

If you live in an area where groundwater is naturally hard, you will have to invest in a water softening system in order to have soft water. Let’s take a look at some of the key advantages that soft water has over mineral-laden hard water.

Less Mineral Buildup in Pipes and Equipment

When water that is high in minerals travels through the pipes in your house, it leaves behind deposits of the minerals it is carrying. This buildup is called limescale. Some types of pipes, such as copper or PVC, are more resilient against limescale buildup. Even so, the continuous flow of water through these pipes will eventually reduce the ease of flow. If you’ve ever seen a picture of how cholesterol slowly constricts the flow of blood in the arteries of the human body, you will have a good sense of how limescale can affect the flow of water through pipes over time.
Pipes aren’t the only thing in your house that will slowly degrade from hard water. Mineral deposits from hard water will result in a buildup that will affect the operation of your showerhead, dishwasher, and importantly, your water heater. Water heaters in areas with hard water will operate less efficiently over time as limescale continues to buildup in them. Similarly, nozzles of showerheads can also become clogged by limescale with continued use.

No Spotted Dishes

If you have hard water, then you know that it’s next to impossible to get your dishes looking as good as new. The source of the film and spots on your dishes, glassware, and silverware are the minerals contained in the water. Those spots aren’t dangerous, but they are unsightly. One of the advantages of having soft water is that your dishes come out consistently clean, bright, and shiny.

Clothes Last Longer

With soft water, your favorite clothes will last longer. If you have hard water, your clothes will appear dull and less vibrant due to the buildup of calcium and magnesium in the clothing through repeated washes. Stains might be more difficult to remove in the washing machine, and you might even see white streaking on certain dark fabrics. Over time, the mineral buildup will weaken the fibers of clothes, making them less resilient to tearing.

Soap Scum

You may not realize it, but that soap scum you’ve battled over the years is due to the minerals in your water. The calcium carbonate in hard water reacts with soap to create soap scum. Soap scum is frustrating at best, and even after a thorough cleaning, it can quickly reappear. By switching to soft water, soap scum will be eliminated, making cleaning your shower or sinks a breeze.

Eliminating soap scum isn’t the only advantage of soft water. Soft water also makes the soap more effective in general. With hard water, soap doesn’t lather as effectively and is generally harder to wash off. Once you finish washing your hands with hard water, you are often left with a dry feeling and may feel like you need lotion. With soft water, soap produces a more luxurious lather, washes off cleanly the first time and makes your hands feel softer instantly.

Vibrant Hair

You probably wouldn’t think that the mineral content of your water would have an impact on how your hair looks. As surprising as it is, the minerals in hard water can, over time, leave hair more dull in appearance. The minerals in the water coat the hair, causing it to appear duller while also reducing the effectiveness of moisturizers from penetrating the hair follicle. In contrast, washing your hair with soft water will leave it with more vibrancy, shine, and body.

How to Get Soft Water

If you don’t live in an area that already provides soft water, then you’ll have to treat the water that is coming into your house. Water is softened through an ion exchange process.

Essentially, this process involves running the hard water through a tank that contains sodium or potassium ions. These ions attract the mineral ions in your hard water. Occasionally the tank may need to be flushed with a saline rinse. This recharges the system and allows it to continue attracting mineral ions. The end result of a water softening system is soft water on demand in your house.

Water softeners reverse the process through which water becomes hard when it travels through the water cycle. The polarity of the water molecule allows it to pick up mineral ions as it travels through the soil. A water softener reverses this process by attracting those same mineral ions back out of your water, allowing them to be eliminated separately.

Closing Thoughts

Soft water is water with a very low mineral content, typically defined as less than 1 GPG. Water above this threshold is considered hard, owing to the fact that it has a higher mineral content.

Water becomes hard after it falls from the ground as precipitation and seeps into the soil. While the water that eventually reaches our tap moves through the soil and sediment that makes up the Earth’s crust, it picks up mineral ions. The majority of these minerals are calcium carbonate and magnesium, but hard water can also contain iron, manganese, and a variety of other minerals.

There are some very tangible benefits associated with soft water, including shinier hair and more moisturized skin. Soft water also leaves behind fewer mineral deposits on your faucets and fixtures, which is important for your appliances. With soft water, your water heater will work more efficiently over a longer period of time, and you won’t experience obstruction of the nozzles in your dishwasher or shower head. Soft water also eliminates soap scum and ensures that your dishes won’t have any spots or film.

Transitioning your entire house to soft water isn’t as difficult as you might think. Water softeners remove the minerals in water as it comes into your house, ensuring that every faucet, shower head, and appliance has clean, soft water. To learn more about the process for transitioning to a water softening system or even just a home water filtration system for potable drinking water, please contact Rayne Water today.

Sources:

  1. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/hardness-water?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
  2. https://www.thespruce.com/solving-hard-water-laundry-problems-2146651
  3. https://www.skincarebyalana.com/blog/whats-better-skin-hard-soft-water/

Expert Reviewer – Ken Christopher

A Guide for How to Test Water Hardness

Posted by Rayne Water

Have you ever wondered how to test water hardness in your house? The answer might be closer than you think. Hard water is the result of elevated mineral levels in the groundwater supply. While hard water may be potable water and not necessarily harmful to your health, it does result in a number of unpleasant effects with which you are probably familiar.

Figuring out how to determine water hardness isn’t necessarily a complex process. While there are detailed tests that can give you an accurate and exact measure of how hard your water is, determining whether or not you have hard water is a much simpler exercise.

In this article, we’re going to outline some easy to understand tips that can help you determine whether or not you have hard water. In doing so, we’ll explore some of the key effects that hard water can have around your house and on your body. Some of these are merely unsightly, while others can impact everything from the efficiency of your appliances to the moisture of your hair and skin. In the end, you might be surprised at the many ways that hard water has had an impact on your daily life and may be interested in a whole home water softener. Water Softening System.

What is Hard Water?

Hard water is water that has a high amount of minerals in it. The majority of these minerals are usually calcium carbonate and magnesium, however other minerals such as manganese and iron can also be found in hard water samples. The higher the mineral count in your water, the harder your water is considered.

Generally, water is thought of as “soft” if it has less than 60 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of calcium carbonate. A higher concentration than this is considered to be hard water, with varying degrees of hardness assigned to different thresholds of calcium carbonate.

 

How Does Hard Water Form?

The formation of hard water occurs naturally through an interaction between water and the soil it passes through. Starting as precipitation, water is largely soft, though there may be small amounts of minerals contained in rainfall. Once that rainfall hits the ground, it begins to move into and through the soil.

The movement of water through the soil and into the rivers and aquifers that provide our water supply is long and arduous. As water passes through soil along the way, it dissolves the bonds of the mineral ions in the soil. These minerals are then carried along with the water into the water that reaches your tap.

In order for water to be hard, it must pass through soil that is rich in calcium carbonate and magnesium. This typically means chalk or limestone. Hard water can also contain high levels of iron if it moves through iron-rich soil. Put another way, the presence or absence of minerals in the soil around a groundwater source has a direct impact on how hard the water is.

This means that the hardness of water can vary substantially based on where you live. Many parts of the United States have hard water. This is also why you might notice that the water feels different when you visit another state or country.

Testing for Hard Water

If you are wondering how to measure water hardness, there are a variety of different tests you can do to find out whether or not your water is hard. Most municipal water suppliers also publish information about what types of minerals and other substances the water piped into your house contains. These water quality reports can provide a valuable source of general information, such as where your local water is sourced from, how it is treated, and what types of organic and inorganic materials it might contain. An example of a local municipal water quality report can be found here.

Short of browsing a water quality report or testing the water directly at your tap using a water test kit, there are some easy observational methods that you can use to determine if your water is hard.

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Do You Have Spots on Your Dishes?

If your dishes come out of the dishwasher with spots or a slight film on them, you probably have hard water. Those spots found on your dishes are mineral deposits left behind when the water used to wash the dish evaporates or is dried during the last part of the dishwasher cycle.
Have You Observed Mineral Buildup on Your Faucets and Fixtures?
You can definitely tell that you have hard water if you pay close attention to your plumbing fixtures. Those areas of your house that are in frequent contact with tap water will be the areas where you see the biggest impact of hard water, and nowhere else comes in contact with water as frequently as plumbing fixtures.

If you have noticed scaly buildup on your fixtures then you most likely have hard water. You may have noticed that the nozzles on your shower head become clogged over time. This occlusion is due to mineral deposits left behind by hard water. The same is true of the nozzles in your dishwasher, which slowly become closed off by mineral deposits over time.

Staining from mineral deposits on plumbing fixtures can also be different colors. White or gray stains tend to be from calcium carbonate, while areas with a high amount of iron in the water will produce reddish stains on fixtures and faucets.

Do You Get Soap Scum?

If you are constantly battling soap scum, you have hard water. Soap scum is a white, filmy layer often found in showers, in sinks, or on bathroom fixtures. Soap scum forms from a reaction between the minerals in water and the soap you use and leaves behind a solid substance that is difficult to clean.

Soap scum can combine with mold or trap mildew in it. It can also be extremely difficult to remove, particularly if it has been left in place for some time. Most often, soap scum is an unsightly nuisance that most people with hard water have just learned to live with.

The Hair Test

Hard water can affect our lives in surprising ways. One of these is the effect of hard water on hair. You can test for water hardness by observing your hair – hair washed with hard water will begin to form a layer of minerals on the hair follicle. This mineral layer has a couple of effects that you may not have even realized were happening.

The first is that minerals make hair look dull. Typically, hair washed in hard water will, over time, become duller and lack the vibrancy of hair washed in soft water. Your hair might also be drier when washed with hard water vs. soft water. The minerals deposited by hard water makes it more difficult for moisturizers to penetrate your hair follicle, leading to drier hair over time.

The Hand Washing Test

This could also be considered the soap test, given the fact that it really comes down to how effectively your water washes away the soap. If you wash your hands with hard water and soap, you will probably notice that your hands can feel a bit dry and rough after all the soap has been visibly washed away, requiring lotion or oil. That dry feeling is from a thin layer of soap sticking to the hard mineral left behind and sticking to your hand and is a common sign that your water is hard.
Another component of this test method applies to your skin as a whole. Individuals with hard water can have dry skin, which actually stems from that layer of soap that is left on your body after you get out of the shower.

How to Soften Water

If you realized through your observational tests that you probably have hard water, you might be wondering what makes water soft. Once you determine you have hard water, there are a couple of options for you.

Option 1
The first is to just live with the fact that you have hard water and deal with the issues associated with hard water in your home.

Option 2
The second solution is to install a water softener. What is a water softener? Water softeners are systems that are installed where your water comes into your house. Water Softeners generally consist of two tanks; a mineral tank that contains a negatively charged resin, and a brine tank that contains a sodium-rich solution. Both of these tanks work together to remove minerals from hard water in a process known as ion exchange.

A home water softener system functions by running the tap water coming into your house through the mineral tank, where the positively charged mineral ions are attracted to the negatively charged resin in the tank. These minerals are replaced with sodium ions in the water during the water softening process.

Once the resin in the mineral tank reaches its capacity, it will need to be recharged. With this process, water from the brine tank is pushed through the mineral tank where the sodium ions that also have a positive charge replace the mineral ions that are on the resin. Once the mineral ions have been flushed out of the tank completely, the tank is ready for further extraction of minerals from your hard water.

Is Soft Water Salty?

A water softener solution provides soft water for your entire home. One thing most people immediately wonder is whether the soft water that enters their home is salty, given the fact that there is now sodium that is attached to the water molecule. While there is sodium added to the water during this process, it doesn’t substantially raise the salinity of the water going through your house and doesn’t taste salty.

If the salt content of soft water concerns you, you could look into installing a reverse-osmosis home water filtration system at your sink tap, which would remove any excess sodium as well as bacteria or other contaminants that might be in your water.

Closing Thoughts

Testing to see if your water is hard doesn’t have to be a confusing process. The methods we’ve outlined above constitute an observational test that anyone can perform to quickly determine whether their water is hard. Key indicators of hard water are mineral buildup around faucets and plumbing fixtures, spots and film on dishes after they have been cleaned and dried, and ever-present soap scum in your showers and on your sinks.

Alongside these indicators, there are some additional ways that you can tell your water is hard. You may notice that your hair is dry and dull, both of which are often the result of a buildup of minerals from hard water on your hair follicles. Hard water can also cause the skin on your scalp and body to become more dry or irritated, which stems from a layer of soap left on the skin after it has been washed. This layer of soap is also why your hands might feel a bit dry after washing them in an area with hard water.

While hard water doesn’t have any huge negative health consequences, it does produce unsightly buildup and can impact the operational efficiency of equipment such as water heaters over time. If you live in an area with hard water, switching to soft water is as easy as installing a water softener into your home. Water softeners ensure that all of the water in your house is soft through an ion exchange process, whereby the mineral ions in hard water are extracted and replaced with sodium ions in soft water.

The tests we have outlined can give you a good idea of whether or not you have hard water. If you want to understand exactly how hard the water at your tap is, contact Rayne Water today to schedule a free water test.

Find a location near you!

 

Sources:
1. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/hardness-water?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
2. https://extension.psu.edu/water-softening
3. https://www.vidwater.org/files/d5ce12c8f/2018+CCR++Final+English+for+POSTING.pdf
4. https://www.skincarebyalana.com/blog/whats-better-skin-hard-soft-water/
5. https://www.thespruce.com/solving-hard-water-laundry-problems-2146651
6. https://www.thespruce.com/soap-scum-information-1900291

What is a Water Softener?

Posted by Rayne Water

Have you ever emptied your dishwasher and seen spots or a film on your dishes? Do you ever wash your hands and wonder why they feel so dry and in need of lotion? These are problems associated with hard water. While these are not some of the biggest issues that hard water can cause, they are a few of the ways that hard water can impact your day-to-day life.

In geographic areas where water is especially hard, whole home water softener are utilized to change hard water into soft water as it comes into your house. If you have ever wondered, “what is a water softener?”, or “what makes water soft?”, this article will break down water softening systems. We’ll look at how water softeners work and what types of advantages transitioning to soft water for your whole house brings.

Installing a home water softener system is a great way to avoid the damage and inconvenience that can come with hard water, but it’s also an investment. Understanding exactly how these systems soften water can help you make an informed decision about whether this investment is worthwhile for you.

What is Hard Water?

Before we break down water softeners, it is important to understand exactly what hard water is. This will provide crucial context for understanding how a water softener functions.

In many ways, water softeners reverse the natural processes through which water becomes hard in the first place. With a better grasp of how hard water forms, you can more easily understand how a water softener works to produce consistent soft water for your whole house.

Water is considered hard if it has high mineral content. There are many ways to test the hardness of water, but water with a concentration of minerals from 1-7 Grains Per Gallon is considered moderately hard. As the mineral content of the water rises, the water becomes increasingly hard.

How is Hard Water Formed?

Hard water is formed through a natural process as water moves through the water cycle. When it rains, the precipitation that falls to the ground is soft water, meaning that the mineral content of the water is very low.

The hardness of water begins to increase once precipitation has reached the ground. As groundwater moves through the soil, it dissolves minerals in the soil around it. You may have heard of water referred to as a “universal solvent”. Water’s properties make it an excellent solvent, meaning it is able to pick up mineral ions as it moves through the soil.

Not all geographic areas have the same levels of hard water. Areas that have soil with higher mineral content will produce water which is harder, while areas with lower mineral content in the soil will produce softer water. The majority of minerals found in hard water are calcium carbonate and magnesium. As water moves through soil rich in chalk or magnesium, it dissolves some of the minerals in these soils, infusing the water with higher mineral content.

What is important to note here is that water is capable of attracting and capturing mineral ions due to its polarity. Mineral ions such as calcium and magnesium carry a positive charge, which is important for understanding the water softening process. If you have asked yourself, “what does a water softener do?”, the answer is that a water softener exchanges mineral ions for sodium ions through a process called ion exchange.

Water Softener Systems starting at only $35/mo. Try before you buy!

Ion Exchange and Your Water Softener

Ok, so hard water forms when water moves through mineral-rich soil and picks up positively charged mineral ions. Now, to make water soft again, you must remove calcium carbonate and magnesium that is now attached to the water molecules.

If you’ve ever wondered about a water softener system and how it works, the answer is ion exchange. Before we dive into the chemistry behind this ion exchange function, let’s break down the water softener unit itself. House water softeners are a mechanical device that is installed in line with the water coming into your house.

Essentially, hard water flows into the water softener and comes out soft. Water softening systems usually consist of two tanks. One is a mineral tank, while the other contains a brine solution that is used to recharge the mineral tank.

Mineral Tank

This is the core of the water softening system. Mineral tanks contain resin or zeolite, which is made up of tiny polystyrene beads. Importantly, these beads have a negative charge. As hard water moves through the mineral tank, the positively charged mineral ions are attracted to the negatively charged beads that comprise the resin and thereby removed.

Brine Tank

The second tank in a water softening system has a brine solution, usually consisting of salt that you add to the tank. Periodically, the resin the mineral tank must be flushed of minerals it has collected from hard water. This is done by flushing the system with sodium-rich water from the brine tank. Sodium has a positive charge as well, so it is attracted to the resin, replacing the minerals that are then flushed out of the system.

Overview of Ion Exchange Systems

Let’s sum up how a water softening system works. Hard water comes into your house and flows into a water softener that has been installed in-line with your incoming water. Hard water flows into the mineral tank, which contains a resin. The resin is comprised of beads that have a negative charge, with a sodium ion attached. When hard water flows through the mineral tank, the positively charged mineral ions are attracted to the negatively charged beads. The sodium attached to the beads replaces the mineral ions that had previously been attached to the water molecules.

Periodically, water softening systems need to be recharged. This is because the negatively charged resin becomes full of positively charged mineral ions. A sodium-rich brine from the second tank flushes through the mineral tank, replacing all of the mineral ions with sodium ions and allowing the mineral ions to be flushed down the drain.

Is Soft Water Really Just Salt Water?

If you were paying close attention you might have noticed that the mineral ions in the hard water were swapped with sodium ions in the resulting soft water. One question that many people have is whether the soft water produced by a water softening system is salty. The answer is, not really.

The soft water that comes out of a water softener does have a higher sodium content than the hard water that went into the system, but the result is not salty enough to taste. The everyday consumer will never notice the extra sodium at all.

Suffice it to say that the sodium level in your soft water will not add a significant amount of sodium to your diet. If you are concerned about the sodium level of your soft water, but still want the benefits that soft water provides, you can consider adding a reverse osmosis home water filtration system which would also filter out the majority of the sodium in the soft water.

What are the Benefits of Soft Water?

At this point, you might be wondering if soft water is worth the investment in a water softening system. Most people find that the benefits offered by soft water outweigh the costs of the system itself. Given this, let’s take a look at some of the most substantial benefits that soft water provides.

Less Mineral Buildup

Mineral buildup, sometimes called scaling, occurs from the minerals in hard water. If you have hard water, the mineral buildup from water usage is an unavoidable fact of life. It will be particularly noticeable on your faucets and plumbing fixtures. Mineral buildup can negatively affect appliances. The nozzles in your dishwasher (or shower head) will become obstructed over time. Similarly, the buildup of minerals in your water heater may reduce its operational efficiency over many years.

No Soap Scum

If you’ve lived in an area with hard water your whole life, then you are intimately familiar with soap scum. It is unsightly and difficult to completely get rid of. With soft water, soap scum simply won’t form. Soap scum is caused by a reaction between the soap itself and the calcium carbonate in hard water. By removing this mineral from the water, you eliminate soap scum at its source.

Shinier Hair

With a soft water system, your hair will appear more vibrant and have more body. Hard water makes the hair appear duller over time. The reason for this is due to the minerals in hard water, which attach to the hair, making it dull in appearance. This coating of minerals also makes it more difficult for moisturizers to reach the hair, so hair washed in hard water tends to be harder as well.

Healthier Skin

Hard water also affects the moisture of our skin. One of the challenges with hard water is that it becomes difficult to fully rinse off any soap you’ve used. What you’re left with after a shower is a very thin layer of soap on your skin. This soap dries out the skin over time. The same is true for shampoo and conditioner, which can be difficult to rinse out completely. When these products coat the scalp, they can dry it out over time. With soft water, you won’t be left with a thin film of soap on your skin, which can be very beneficial for individuals with sensitive skin.

Clothes Last Longer

Over time, the minerals present in hard water will also coat the fibers of your clothing. This mineral buildup causes your clothes to become duller in appearance, and over time the fibers of your clothing can actually become more brittle. Hard water can also leave white or grey streaks on darker clothing, which is unsightly and frustrating. By installing a water softener, you can expect that your clothes will be more resilient and their colors will stay bright over a longer period of time. It’s clear that when comparing the difference between hard and soft water, there are clear, overpowering benefits to soft water.

Closing Thoughts

Water naturally becomes hard as it moves through soil that is rich in minerals. Removing those minerals with a water softener involves a process of attracting the positively charged mineral ions in hard water to a negatively charged resin, and replacing those mineral ions with sodium ions. Periodically, the resin in a water softener must be flushed with a brine, which is a process known as recharging.

Before investing in a water softening solution for your home, it’s important to understand the benefits associated with soft water. It is entirely possible to live without soft water and not have any detrimental health effects, so investing in a water softening solution comes down to whether the quality of life advantages that soft water offers are worth it.

Soft water will cause less mineral buildup around your plumbing fixtures, in your pipes, and in equipment such as a dishwasher or water heater. This can help extend the life of this equipment. Soft water also makes it easier to completely clean off the soap with showering or washing your hands, which improves the moisture of your skin and can lead to less irritation.

An added benefit of soft water is that it eliminates soap scum, which forms from a reaction between soap and the calcium carbonate in hard water. The mineral deposits in hard water also dull the color, in both your hair and your clothing. This mineral buildup can make hair more brittle and dry by reducing the effectiveness of moisturizers, while also causing clothing to be less resilient over time.

Water softening solutions, while not strictly necessary, offer a number of tangible advantages that may be worthwhile for you. If you are interested to learn more about installing a water softener or the different types of water softening solutions available for your home or business, contact Rayne Water today.

Find a location near you!

Sources:

  1. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/hardness-water?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
  2. https://extension.psu.edu/water-softening
  3. https://www2.cambridgema.gov/CityOfCambridge_Content/documents/Drinking%20WaterMy%20edition.pdf
  4. https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/interior-projects/how-to/a150/1275126/
  5. https://www.skincarebyalana.com/blog/whats-better-skin-hard-soft-water/
  6. https://www.thespruce.com/solving-hard-water-laundry-problems-2146651