Adapting to Your Home’s New Water Softener
You’ve just had a new water softener installed in your home and you step in the tub to take your shower and notice the water almost feels slick. Like others who first enjoy their home’s new and improved water quality, it is often first experienced and described as “slippery.” In fact, because you’re cleaner than the hard water you were used to, softened water can leave you with a slippery-when-wet feeling. That’s intentional!
Upgrading your water to soft water is a huge improvement, but there are a few things you should be aware of if you are only used to having hard water in your home.
Bathing in Hard Water
Hard water has excessive amounts of dissolved minerals, including magnesium and calcium. Bathing with hard water feels “heavier” on your skin and can be more abrasive than softened water. One way to also tell that you have hard water is the white residue leftover around your drain and plumbing fixtures after the water dries. These common chalky deposits are often called “limescale buildup” and can be a pain to clean.
When hard water interacts with chemicals in soap the hardness minerals in your water cause it to curdle, leaving you with soap scum that is difficult to scrub off. The residue left on your skin can clog your pores, drying out your skin. While some people say the feeling is “squeaky clean” after a shower using hard water, you are actually feeling soap scum remnants.
Soap attaches to the hardness minerals to form the soap scum curd, making you feel like you need to use more soap adding even more suds in your hair. Studies say if you have very hard water you could be using two to three times as much soap to get a proper lather – and more water to wash that lather out.
How Water Softeners Work
A water softener uses the “ion exchange” to make your water feel “soft” (with the minerals of hard water removed). Simply put, this allows various ions to be expelled and changed based on their natural positive/negative charge. It’s simple science!
Positively charged hard water minerals, like magnesium and calcium are put through the water softening system, and there they interact with the negatively charged resin beads in the unit’s tank. The resin media bonds with the hard water minerals like a magnet, leaving you with much softer water.
After that resin can no longer hold onto any more magnesium and calcium, sodium chloride (salt) from the unit’s brine tank is added to the media tank during the regeneration cycle. This process with sodium chloride removes the calcium and magnesium as it is washed through the resin. Once this process has finished and the remaining salt is washed away, the unit’s resin is clear and prepared to process more hard water minerals. With the unwanted hard minerals removed, your soap no longer binds to their particles and gives you a nice sudsy lather right away.
Taking a Bath or Showering in Softened Water
- You’ll Use Less Soap: Calcium and magnesium hard water minerals often make us used to using a certain amount (a lot of) soap. Once you have a new water softener installed, you will no longer have those hard water minerals reducing your soap’s effectiveness. Using 1/3 to 1/2 of the amount of soap you would normally use is often an adequate amount with soft water.
Using the same large amount of soap you were used to is probably the cause of why everything feels so “slippery!” As intended, soaps, detergents, and shampoos add their own coat to everything they touch, so you are probably just using too much.
- Make a Do-it-Yourself Soap: Soaps and shampoos purchased at most stores can contain synthetic materials, perfumes, and their own water softening agents to counteract the common hard water. Consider making your own soap or purchasing a natural product to avoid the excessive suds and slipperiness of those store-bought products. Plus, by doing so, you will know exactly what chemicals (or natural products) you are cleaning your body with!
- Know the Benefits: When bathing with soft water, you will over time notice the benefit of cleaner, softer hair and skin. Removing the hard minerals of hard water will leave your skin feeling more moisturized and healthier and you should immediately notice your hair rinsing cleaner much easier than before. While it may take a little time getting use soft water, the benefits far outweigh the minor downsides.
If adjusting to your new soft water system, don’t worry! Your friends at Futuramic’s Clean Water Center are experts and have answers to all of your water treatment questions. Give us a call at (402) 453-5730 or stop by our office at 1514 S Saddle Creek Road in Omaha.