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If your new home comes with a softening system or you are thinking of installing one to combat particularly hard water there are some differences you will need to account for that you may not expect. In fact, you might even be using tactics to combat hard water in your current household and not even realize it!

So what is soft water?

Hard water has high concentrations of magnesium and calcium in particular. Whereas soft water has little to none leaving only de-ionized sodium.

One of the first things, and arguably the most important, you need to know about living with soft water is that it is not recommended as your main supply of drinking water. Soft water is very high in sodium which in addition to the typical American diet being high in sodium can lead to increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke.

I don’t say this to scare you! Usually, water softening systems have a bypass valve that allows you to choose which appliances gain access to which water type.

This means that in most cases your kitchen sink should have access to the hard water supply.

If you aren’t familiar with benefits of soft water you are probably wondering why have it all.  

But benefits there are!

Hard water is tough on plumbing, appliances and even clothing. Those high concentrations of calcium and magnesium build up and cause havoc. They can even make clothing dingey and surfaces like your bathtub difficult to get clean.

What this means is that with soft water you don’t have to spend as much time cleaning/scrubbing the effects left behind by hard water. And you even can, and should, use less soap. This is most important to keep in mind with your washing machine and dishwasher. Soap can suds up much easier in soft water. So when there is too much soap it leads to too many bubbles and this leads to damage to your machine and even leakage over time.

In addition to using less soap, you will find you will need less, or even none, of “booster” products like Borax and Oxiclean. This is because these products are actually water softening agents and help keep soap “sticking” to clothing after it’s attracted up all the dirt.

Your appliances and plumbing will also have a longer life thanks to the lack of magnesium and calcium building up inside pipes and hoses. This is true for your water heater, washing machine, dishwasher and even smaller appliances like your coffee pot.

If you’re thinking of having a softening system installed, have your water levels tested first. They might not be so high that an entire system is necessary. For the most part, and with some research, you can find other solutions to combat hard water just as well!