Apr 13, 2022 | Salt Sense

How Salt Works to Soften Water

Salt is not just something we consume through our diet. In fact, Salt is estimated to have over 14,000 uses and one of the vital roles it plays is in softening our water.

Hard water

You may have heard of the term ‘hard water’ but what does that mean?

As rain falls it passes through the earth and is filtered through rocks where it absorbs minerals, which make the water harder.  The term hard water refers to the amount of Calcium and Magnesium per litre, and this varies depending upon location.  Areas that have Chalk and Limestone geology, for example, will be predisposed to hard water.

In the UK, it is estimated that approximately 60% of households are supplied with hard water.

Although there are no known health risks associated with hard water, there are a number of disadvantages to having a hard water supply, including;

  • A build-up of Limescale, which can lead to increased heating bills and costs to repair or replace heating systems and appliances.
  • A change to the appearance and taste of hot drinks.
  • Drier skin and hair as a result of mineral deposits in the water.
  • More soap and detergents are used.
  • Increased bacteria growth in pipes.

How does salt soften water?

Salt works effectively as a water softener through the process of ion exchange.  This means that Calcium and Magnesium ions in hard water are exchanged for sodium ions, resulting in softer water.

Water softeners are usually made from food-grade salt, which makes it a relatively cheap, natural and safe means of softening water. You may choose to install water softening equipment in your home, and water softening salts are readily available in both crystal and tablet form. We recommend using a high purity salt product specifically designed for this purpose.

If you’re unsure of whether you live in a hard water area, your water supplier should be able to advise.

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