Reale Lemay discusses various water quality and delivery problems facing his Connecticut Customers
Soft water often gives you that "slippery" feeling because of the exchange of the "sticky" calcium and magnesium ions for the slippery sodium ion. When sodium ions are exchanged for calcium and magnesium, water won't form a sticky residue on your skin. The residue that forms from the action of calcium and magnesium mixing with soap is often considered a film left on your skin. This film that looks "cloudy" in appearance on glass shower walls doesn't form when bathing in softened water. That "slippery" feeling of softened water has absolutely nothing to do with natural oils in your skin.
Actually, our taste buds are incapable of tasting sodium. In fact, what we are tasting when we taste "salty" is actually the chloride associated with common table salt, known as sodium chloride. Water softeners are highly efficient as a general rule and the ion exchange process involves only the trading of sodium for the minerals of calcium and magnesium. The chloride portion of the sodium chloride used in water softeners is actually sent directly to the drain attached to the calcium and magnesium ions for which the sodium has been exchanged.
This issue has been argued by experts for decades, and thoughts are split right down the middle on this issue. Experts feel that calcium and magnesium in water cannot be considered a dietary supplement and point to the fact that these minerals in water are not bioavailable and cannot be absorbed by the human body. The other half of the experts suggest that, in general, minerals are lacking in the Western diet and any mineral contribution to our dietary intake is beneficial. Regardless of your position, one fact is absolutely clear: In order to consume the RDA of calcium or magnesium from your water it would be necessary to drink many, many gallons of water in a day based on an extremely hard water level of 10 grains per gallon. Consuming this much water in a day is virtually impossible and dangerous from an over-hydration standpoint!
No. Calcium and magnesium are the predominant minerals found in hard water. These two minerals are naturally occurring and arise to varying degrees in water, depending on the geography and topography through which the water travels before falling to the ground. Calcium and magnesium are just impurities in water, not contaminants.
Softened water is often, but not always, spot free. Generally, soft water will produce far fewer spots on drying glass, metal and other hard surfaces. The reasoning is that softened water, which is absent of the "sticky"calcium and magnesium ions, will more readily rinse off of dishes, appliances, shower walls and other fixtures than hard water. Hard water usually dries with a lime scale that is not present in softened water. Softened water spots usually can be easily wiped away with a moist cloth, but hard water often requires the use of a chemical and/or abrasive cleaner.
Some feel that there is risk of kidney stones and gall stones caused by hard water. If the calcium and magnesium minerals in water aren't bioavailable, then these minerals would simply pass through our system. On the other hand, if the calcium and magnesium naturally occurring in water can be absorbed by our bodies, which is still arguable, then the absorption and utilization of these minerals would be a considered a natural process as with minerals that we derive from other components of our dietary intake. At this time, there isn't any documented scientific evidence to suggest that hard water is a health risk.
Fluoride was originally added to water in order to provide for improvements in dental health. The safety of fluoride is seriously in question, as with so many previously used chemicals (e.g., DDT) . Consider this quote from the January 2008 Scientific American, "Researchers are intensifying their scrutiny of fluoride, which is added to most public water systems in the U.S. Some recent studies suggest that over consumption of fluoride can raise the risks of disorders affecting teeth, bones, the brain and the thyroid gland."
ION exchange has been the only scientifically proven method for softening water. Magnets, catalytic systems, electronic systems and other physical-property "changers" have no documented scientific evidence as to their efficacy in softening water. You can change the physical nature of water for a short duration; however, this change does not remove the minerals that cause water hardness. These descaling systems, while they are beneficial temporarily in creating fewer "sticky" ions are not a replacement for water softeners. Generally, there is no known widely accepted alternative solution for the removal of water hardness, other than through the science of ion exchange.