Water Softening & Health Effects
Water that comes to our house the whole day isn’t soft pure water. It is hard water. Hard water is high on minerals and has severe effects. Hard water corrodes pipes and taps and adds on to the expenses. Also in industries and factories, hard water is a major problem. They have special monitoring for hard water as that can avoid certain circumstances that it creates.
How can this be solved?
Water softening is a process which eliminates harmful minerals and particles from hard water to make it fit for human consumption and also for industrial use. Hard water is contaminated because of limestone and chalk which is made up of calcium and magnesium which corrodes its surrounding because of its mineral composition.
What is soft water?
Soft water is water with only the necessary minerals and metals which reacts better to soap than hard water. It also increases the plumbing life of your place as well as reduces the maintenance cost for the pipes and taps. There are many ways by which water softening can be achieved. Some of the mainly used methods are discussed below.
Methods for water softening:
Ion exchange resin: Here, in this process, ion exchange resin devices are used which basically exchange the water hardening ions with the milder one. The main water hardening ions are calcium and magnesium which are then exchanged with sodium and potassium to make water soft and fit for consumption. This is mainly for household purposes.
Lime softening: In this process lime is added to hard water to dilute its composition and lime makes water softer. This process is far better than the ion exchange resin but it also needs highly skilled and trained personnel to run the required equipment which is used to add lime to water.
Chelation: this process is involved in water softening for chemical analysis. Chelators are agents that are used to soften water and make it usable. Some of the commonly used chelators are citric acid, which is used to soften water in soaps and detergents. This is one example, there are many more different kinds of chelators that are used for this process.
Distillation: Calcium and magnesium are the minerals that make water hard and are present in water as non volatile salts. In this process of distillation these minerals can simply be removed to make the water softener. Distilling water has only one drawback as it can be the best process for water softening but it is really expensive for use and can’t be used often.
Reverse osmosis: This process uses the hydrostatic pressure which is used against a special membrane. Here in this process, water is passed through this membrane and because of the pressure passed all the water hardening ions i.e. calcium and magnesium are eliminated from the water making it softer. Here only the elimination of the water hardening ions takes place and no further ions are added to the water.
Sodium is one of the major ions added to water for water softening. Excessive sodium intake can create adverse health effects in an individual. Because of the sodium present in drinking water the sodium intake of an individual is always more than the recommended or allowed intake for a normal human being. People who are advised to have sodium restricted diets should follow the highly recommended reverse osmosis method for water softening as that removes sodium along with other chemicals and minerals from water.