You already know the difficulties associated with hard water: Scale build-up in pipes, stains on utensils and soap or shampoo that won't lather easily. It will also irritate the skin, if you have eczema. The solution is to have your water softened.
Soft water is kinder to your skin, hair, utensils and fixtures. Typically, water softeners work through a process known as ion exchange where calcium and magnesium are exchanged with potassium and sodium. To achieve this, you have to buy a water softener and add sodium chloride to your tank.
Most water softeners use sodium chloride. Sodium chloride is cheap and readily available. Unfortunately, some amount of sodium will find its way into the water. This may cause you skin irritations. You may also not like the idea of having extra sodium in your water or food. What options do you have?
You can use potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride. However potassium chloride is more expensive than sodium chloride and may not be as readily available.
Salt-based softeners are very effective in removing minerals that cause water hardness. They are best if, like most people, you need a constant supply of water. On the downside, they are a little pricey, but can last a long time.
Descalers, also known as water conditioners do not require salt. They work to keep scales out of water using various technologies such as reverse osmosis or through the use of electrical current.
They also soften the water by filtering out mineral components that cause hard water. Chemical
components that cause water hardness are altered so that they don't leave a deposit on surfaces such as hoses and appliances.
The advantage they offer is that they are cheaper to buy and to run as they do not need refilling. Descalers are also easy to maintain and water efficient. Above all, no sodium gets into your water.
However, for those who can feel the difference, water that has passed through descalers is said to be less slimy than water from water softeners.
Descalers are also not as efficient as salt-based water softeners. So if your hard water problem is particularly severe, you may want to go for a water softener that uses potassium chloride.
If you are sensitive to sodium chloride or are just more health conscious about having sodium in your drinking water, you have two options. You can either use potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride, or use a descaler. For more information, contact a local water treatment company.