1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

July 13, 2008

:195 Water Softener Salt

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:195 EcoTip: Water softeners add salt to the water. The amount of sodium is usually small, but for those on a restricted sodium diet, reverse osmosis can reduce the levels of sodium chloride. Another alternative would be to use potassium chloride salt instead of sodium chloride. Potassium chloride may contain traces of naturally occurring beta radiation.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :172, :190, :191, :192, :193, :194

The following information is quoted from the third edition (released in May 2008 ) of Prescriptions for a Healthy House: A Practical Guide for Architects, Builders & Homeowners:

Water conditioners are used to improve the aesthetic quality of water, including color, corrosiveness, clarity, and hardness. They use a process of ion exchange to eliminate from the water undesirable substances (such as calcium and magnesium) that may precipitate scale on fixtures, laundry machines, hot water heaters, dishwashers, shower stalls, sinks, and skin. Water conditioners can also be effective in removing sediment, chlorine, and certain metals, such as low levels of manganese and iron (both of which can cause stains) as well as odor from hydrogen sulfide. Flow rate is affected by both the size and the design of the water softener and must be appropriately specified on an individual basis. Conditioned water is often referred to as “soft” water. In the ion exchange process, calcium or magnesium ions are exchanged with either sodium or potassium. Sodium chloride is the more common regenerate for water conditioning, but many water treatment companies have switched to potassium chloride, which is widely believed to be a healthier and more ecologically sound choice. Potassium chloride is essentially a refined potash, and when returned to the ground water it can serve as a fertilizer for many plants. The small amount ingested daily from water conditioned with potassium is about equivalent to what you would gain by eating half a banana and can be a positive addition to your diet.

For those with a medical condition affecting electrolyte balance, blood pressure, or kidney function, we suggest you consult a physician before you consider purchasing a water-conditioning system with salt-based regenerates. Potassium chloride may also contain traces of naturally occurring gross beta radiation. Because of chloride discharge into city systems and the subsequent impact of chlorides on rivers and agriculture, some municipalities are moving to ban new salt-regenerating water conditioners and give rebates to customers who switch to salt-free systems. Municipal water and sewer systems are not configured to remove chlorides. This issue is of particular concern in dense metropolitan areas, but since the ion exchange process is also commonly used to remove water contaminants in private domestic wells, chlorides also are discharged into septic systems and ultimately into shallow aquifers.

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