The debate of hard versus soft water leaves many people unsure which is the best option for their home. While soft water is better for skin --- especially in winter, when skin becomes dry and itchy --- it can leave users feeling "slimy" after bathing. More importantly are concerns that soft water should not be consumed, especially from older homes with lead pipes. There are various ways to resolve soft water issues, ranging from an easy change in your products to a major change in your home's plumbing.
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Use only soap products designed for soft water use, whether for laundry, dishwashers or even personal care. One such brand, Lano Soft, claims to use natural ingredients that work in conjunction with soft water, while also being better for the environment. Another company, Softwater Soapworks, also carries bath salts and lotions that work with skin cleansed in soft water. These types of products may counter the "slimy" feeling often felt by those who bathe in soft water.
Switch to a hair product that is made to work with soft water. A common complaint with soft water is limp hair, often caused by soft water not being able to completely remove all soap residue. Volumizing or clarifying shampoos can counter limp tresses. You can also make your own mineral mix by combining 1/4 cup of Epsom salts with one gallon of water and adding this to your hair while shampooing. Volumizing products such as gel and mousse may also assist in getting rid of limp hair.
Install a water filter in the kitchen sink or any other sink where water will be pulled for drinking. There are various kinds available for purchase. Some can be attached directly to the water faucet, filtering water as it comes out. Other models attach beneath the sink directly to the plumbing, filtering water before it exits via the faucet. For the least expensive option, a water pitcher with a filter can be kept in the refrigerator for use in drinking and cooking. Soft water can leach lead from pipes, especially if it is heated. This is especially dangerous for cooking, drinking or making formula. Additionally, a water softener pulls calcium --- an important mineral for our bodies --- out of water, removing something beneficial from drinking water.
Replace the lead pipes in your home with chrome, copper or PVC if you have a water-softening system. You will need to hire a professional plumber to do this if you don't have a professional in the family to ensure the plumbing meets local building code requirements. Replacing lead pipes will eradicate the concerns of lead poisoning.
Remove a water softener from your plumbing system, returning the water system to "hard," or mineral-filled, water. This step will also require a plumber's assistance to make sure pipes are properly removed from the water softener and reattached to ensure proper water flow. Softeners remove calcium and magnesium with a filtering system, replacing these minerals with potassium or, more commonly, sodium. Once the water softener is removed, hard water will route through the pipes, eliminating the problems caused by soft water.
Tips and warnings
- Hire a plumber to remove a water softener from your home, unless you are knowledgeable about plumbing repairs and building codes.
- Individuals on a low-sodium diet, such as for high blood pressure, may find that the sodium placed in the water by water softeners causes adverse effects.
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