Did you know that much of your water contains minerals and chemicals, the best known of which is lime scale? This is a mineral deposited in the water as it passes through rock. Water hardening is caused by the presence of the minerals calcium and magnesium.
If you live in a hard water area of which up to 80% of the country is, you will suffer the effects in your home. You will see scale in your kettle and around the taps and bathroom fittings, also around the kitchen sink and even tea stains around the waste. Did you know you can’t stain stainless steel with tea? It’s the scale that’s been stained!
What you won’t see though is the scale in the pipe work around your home, blocking and restricting the flow to your taps. The scale builds up on the heat exchanger inside your hot water cylinder or boiler, preventing the transfer of heat through to your water.
Did you know the average scale build up on the heat exchanger is 3/16 to 1/4 of an inch? That’s a loss of efficiency of around 40%! That’s 40p in every £ you spend heating your water through scale, wasted! To soften water which removes the hardness impurities, a process called ion-exchange is used. Every effective water softener uses the same process.
There are gadgets on the market which claim to soften water via some extraordinary methods; these are proven to be very ineffective! We have had many customers in the past who have tried these with no success, often the cheap option costs more in the long run!
You’ve probably heard that salt is used in the process of softening water; some people imagine you are adding the salt to your water but that’s not true. Salt is purely used as a cleaning agent for the softener resin; the sodium element of the salt washes away the calcium and magnesium ions and replaces them with soft sodium ions.
The by-law states that you should leave one tap untreated for testing and drinking. This infers there must be something wrong with drinking softened water; there is no conclusive evidence either way. It is perfectly safe in general terms to drink softened water. Please refer to the report from British Water which states in conclusion that ‘Except in those individuals that who are specifically vulnerable (infants, immuno-compromised,) water from a properly maintained domestic softener is suitable for drinking and in fact meets the requirements of the revised drinking water directive.’
Also, look on the British Water website for more information:
British Water – Consumers Guide to Water Softening (PDF File, please click to open)