Water Softener Dangers

Written by wanda thibodeaux
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Water Softener Dangers
You may be drinking harmful metals if you use a water softener. (Young woman drinking water. Woman With Water Glass. image by Monika 3 Steps Ahead from Fotolia.com)

Water softeners make hard water soft by removing contaminants through an ion exchange process. The benefits of soft water -- less scale build-up, softer skin, neutral flavour to anything made with water -- attract homeowners to these devices. However, manufacturers don't usually advertise the potential dangers of water softeners. Remaining ignorant to these dangers may put you and your family at risk for health and home problems.

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Health Problems

The average water softener uses salt during the ion exchange process that removes contaminants from the water, which means that softened water usually has a higher level of sodium than hard water. If you have conditions such as hypertension, the added sodium may be an issue. Dr. Sheldon Sheps of the Mayo Clinic indicates that the amount of salt introduced into the diet via water softeners usually won't cause problems, but he also points out that the amount of salt in softened water will depend on the initial hardness of the water -- the harder the water, the more sodium is necessary during the softening process and gets into the water. Shep recommends using only unsoftened cold water for drinking and cooking or buying demineralised water for cooking if you believe the amount of sodium released by your water softener is a problem.

As pointed out by the Water Tech Online website, as the number of diabetes and hypertension cases increases in the U.S., softeners that use potassium instead of sodium are becoming more common. However, too much potassium, like too much salt, disrupts the mineral balance within the body. Potassium softeners increase the risk of hyperkalemia, a condition featuring higher-than-normal potassium levels in the blood.

Water softeners increase the rate at which minerals found in metal plumbing leach into the water, according to the Triangular Wave Technologies website. Lead and copper leach easily. The increase in heavy metals into the diet can be poisonous.

The AllWaterPurification website points out that some people are concerned about the removal of minerals from softened water. They argue that minerals are essential to keep us healthy and that water softeners put people at risk for mineral deficits. Advocates of softeners maintain that people can get adequate minerals through foods.

Leaching and Repair

Because water softeners increase the rate at which metal leaches into the water, they impact how long your plumbing will last. You shouldn't need to work on your pipes every year because of metal leaches, but you may find over several years that the pipes that carry the softened water deteriorate faster than the ones that do not, leading to a higher need for plumbing maintenance and repair. Leaks caused by this deterioration can foster the growth of dangerous mould and mildew and create structure instability.

Inefficiency of Plumbing

As shown by the AllWater Purification Website, water softeners that are too big are inefficient. Softeners that are too small may restrict water flow and allow hard water to leak into the plumbing system.

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