Hard water contains high levels of magnesium and calcium in carbonate form. Through water softening, you can overcome the effect of hard water. An ion exchange water softener is used to soften the hard water.
Although the water softening systems impact the environment, it is more beneficial since it saves energy and reduces the consumption of chemicals. In this article, we are going to look at how water softening affects the environment.
Benefits of Water Softening
Here are the top benefits of water softening:
More Efficient Energy Consumption
Water softening reduces heating efficiency. According to a publication in France, an increase of 1 mm in scale thickness reduces heating efficiency by an average of 6%. In addition, a study by New Mexico State University shows that gas heaters used 29% more energy to heat hard water than soft water. In comparison, electric heaters used 21% more energy on hard water.
Lower Detergent and Cleaning Agents Consumptions
According to an association in France, you need to use more than double soap and detergent in hard water. For this reason, most detergents are made using additives like phosphates which increases the environmental burden of bathing and laundry activities. The scaling effect of hard water makes it necessary to use antiscalants, which are costly and affects the environment.
Longer Fabric Life
According to a study in Chicago YMCA laundry, softening water supply increases the life of frequently washed household items like pillow slips, bath towels, and sheets by 20-40%.
Better Life Cycle Analysis
According to a Swiss study on domestic clothes washing, ion exchange water softening is environmentally better than capturing rainwater or unsoftened water.
The Impact of Water Softening on the Environment
Here are the common environmental impact of water softening:
Raw Material Consumption
Recyclable materials such as common metals and plastics are used to manufacture softening equipment. Minimal maintenance is required for this equipment, and they have a lifespan of up to 15 years.
The only consumable product applied in the manufacturing process is sodium chloride. The extraction of salt is easy and has little impact on the landscape. However, the energy used in evaporation is relatively high and can only be reduced using efficient evaporator systems.
Some quantity of sodium chloride is discharged into the drainage system during the regeneration cycle of the water softening process. However, based on septic tanks and water sewerage systems studies, salt has no harmful impact on the environment since it does not bi-accumulate.
However, modern equipment has a high salt efficiency to minimize the effects of salt on the environment.
More Water Consumption
The backwash cycles and regeneration of water softeners use more water compared to standard consumption. However, with modern equipment, wastage is kept at its minimum.
Soft Water and Metal Corrosion
Since soft water is associated with increased corrosion in the water supply, it is thought that softened water might negatively affect metal items. However, according to a US Environmental Protection Agency test, there is no difference in corrosion performance between softened water and its source water. Some indications showed that softened water might corrode less compared to hard water.
It is undeniable that there are plenty of benefits to using water softeners. However, it also comes with a negative environmental impact. This is why it is important to use it moderately and appropriately to mitigate the adverse side effects on the environment.