Salt-based water softeners are “old technology” water softeners that primarily remove “hard” minerals, like magnesium and calcium, from families’ drinking water. The process that removes these hard minerals is ion exchange, in which ions of the undesired minerals are swapped with those of sodium ions. The result is a “softer” water that allows detergents and soaps to interact more easily with the water from the tap.
It is already known within the industry that soft water is not recommended for drinking, especially for hypertensive and sodium-sensitive people that should limit their sodium intake. In addition, soft water may contain metals.
How, exactly? Water softeners rely on ion exchange, and regardless of treatment water is a universal solvent. Lead and copper from traditional piping may find its way into your drinking water during the softening process.
New evidence provided by an industry insider highlights a long-standing argument that salt-based water softeners continue to damage the already limited drinking water supply irrevocably. Already, salt-based water softeners have received pushback from governments and regulatory agencies. In 2005 California passed a bill allowing local communities to ban salt-based water softeners.
Salt-based water softeners discharge a large amount of sodium back into the water supply, and often treatment facilities cannot handle or afford the equipment necessary to remove the sodium ions. In many states (like California) salt is considered a major pollutant, so governing bodies have been attempting to reduce the amount of salt-based water softeners for over a decade.
Treating softened water is costly. It costs approximately 20 cents to add one pound of salt to a salt-based water softener, but 25 times that amount to remove the equivalent amount of chloride from the effected drinking water at a treatment facility, according to APEC Water. And a typical household utilizes about 100 pounds of salt per month for softening purposes!
Most chloride in water treatment facilities comes from salt-based water softeners. An insider specialist at a Midwest water treatment facility commented that 110 tons of salt (in the form of chloride) passes through their facility daily and cannot be treated. It is pumped back into the water supply, as they are unequipped to deal with the issue.
This source estimates that it would cost $2.3 billion to install and maintain an industrial-size reverse osmosis water filter to correctly treat the chloride in the drinking water in the local area. The water charges in the city would have to increase by 500% in order to fund the investment.
It’s clear that the chloride and sodium from salt-based water softeners are slowly killing the limited fresh water supply in the country. In order to stop further salt contamination, switch to an eco-friendly whole house water filter and salt-free softener that reduces water of contamination and impurities without the use of electricity or sodium/potassium chloride.