Water softness or hardness level represents the value influenced by the volume of minerals found in the normal tap water coming straight out of the water treatment plant and through the piping system into your home. The minerals in question are mostly calcium and magnesium although traces of other minerals and even metals can be found in tap water too.
Water supply piping is where water hardness plays a major role. The longevity of housing and industrial piping systems is very dependent on that very content of minerals flowing non-stop to get to your home. Sensitive home appliances such as washing machines are especially affected by this. Not to mention water heaters, dishwashers and any other appliance that is using tap water during operation.
What Does Water Hardness Mean To Us?
Minerals are found everywhere in nature and the water we use every day is rich with them. The minerals get into the water when it passes through underground soil and rocks where most of the deposits of magnesium and calcium rich limestone and chalk are found. We define water with hardness values between 3 and 10 as soft and the water with values ranging from 11 to 20 is considered hard. Water with a hardness rating of 10 is considered to be average.
Most of the commercially available water softening devices use either ion-exchange resin based system or the reverse-osmosis systems. Some systems use magnetic fields and there is even salt based and salt-free system for regulating water hardness too.
Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Systems
Most commonly used are reverse osmosis water filter systems. These systems are also used to desalinate seawater as it passes through fine membranes while leaving impurities and heavy particles on the side while allowing pure water to pass. These systems are very effective for removal of all minerals from the water. The commercially available reverse osmosis filters are often used in the replaceable water filters that are mounted above sinks and directly on to the faucets.
Salt Based Water Filtering Systems
Salt based water filtering systems are the most efficient of all the commercially available water softener systems. This type of process uses ion exchange in order to rid the water of minerals and other heavier elements. Hard water passes through a system of tanks where it is charged with ions of sodium which replace the harder elements and thus create the soft water. The major disadvantage of this system is the higher concentration of sodium so this water is not recommended to be used for drinking. These systems are often used for swimming pools.
Magnetic Field Water Softening Systems
Magnetic field water softening systems use coils which produce magnetic fields around the piping in order to reduce the water hardness. These systems are not recommended at all for homes where the water hardness reaches extreme levels as they are still not verified as being efficient enough.
Using water softener systems will improve the quality of the tap water and even improve it for the better taste. Seeing how sensitive home appliances will also benefit from the reduction of the water hardness levels, these systems are highly recommended for people where tap water reaches values beyond the level 12 of the water hardness scale.