What is a Drinking Water Softener?

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  • Written By: Dana Hinders
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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Drinking water softener systems aim to reduce the amount of calcium and magnesium in the water. Hard water can clog pipes, damage home appliances, and make it harder for soap and detergent to dissolve. It also has a distinctive taste that many people find quite unpleasant.

Drinking water softener systems work by removing calcium and magnesium ions from the water in your home. Some, but not all, softeners will also reduce the amount of iron in your drinking water. Ion exchangers in these types of home water filtration systems replace the ions that have been removed with either sodium or potassium ions.

Water treatment systems designed to produce soft water must be connected directly to your water supply. They can be automatic, semi-automatic, or manual and will not damage your home's septic tank if properly installed. Ratings for drinking water softener systems are given based on the amount of hardness that can be removed. Regardless of the type of water softener you choose, however, the system should not be used in a home with lead pipes, due to the risk that artificially softened water may pick up too much lead.


Softened water is perfectly safe to drink. It contains all the nutrients of regular water, with the exception of the excess calcium and magnesium. However, you may want to be cautious when using softened water for the preparation of baby formula. Depending upon your initial water quality and the type of water softener system you are using, the filtered water may have too much sodium to be suitable for this purpose.

Although drinking water softener systems may seem expensive to install, keep in mind that a good water softener system will last for many years. In fact, many homeowners have systems that are 20 or 30 years old and require little maintenance. With careful comparison shopping, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a system that fits your budget and will provide high quality drinking water for your family.

If you are not sure what your future plans may involve, remember that many drinking water softener systems can be removed at a later date if you decide to sell your home. The connection system is often very similar to those used for a washer and dryer. If you close off the inlet and outlet valves of the softener and open up the bypass valve, the softener can be disconnected. Then, all you need to do is move it to the new location and reinstall it.



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