Water softener useful or superfluous?

wasserenthärtungsanlage
© pixabay / ronymichaud

Do you even need a water softener? Why should I possibly buy a softening plant? How do the different decalcification processes work and which of them work reasonably? What does such a plant cost and what are the additional running costs? We try to answer these questions and more here on this page in a generally understandable way.

Do you need a water softener at all?

The various manufacturers of water softeners such as Allfiltra, Aqmos, Aquintos, BWT, Grünbeck, Judo, Water2buy and many others state the following advantages, among others, which should be achieved by using their softeners

  • through the elimination of calcification a lower energy consumption is achieved
  • in bathroom and kitchen there are less lime stains due to lime deposits
  • Blockages due to lime deposits no longer occur
  • Electrical appliances such as washing machine, kettle, coffee machine etc. achieve a longer service life
  • Soap and detergent can be significantly reduced depending on the hardness of the water
  • pleasant when showering and bathing for hair and skin
  • Decalcified water simply tastes better 🙂

Why should I possibly buy a water softening plant?

But do you really need such a softening plant? One reads again and again that the German drinking water has a high quality in European comparison? This is fundamentally correct, but in terms of water hardness it varies considerably from region to region. This depends on the respective geological subsoil. If you are unlucky, you live in an area that has a high water hardness. Then it is possible that your water supplier has to make a great effort to soften the water. Unfortunately, this is then also reflected in the water costs.
But what do you do if you live in a region in the city or municipality where you do not use sufficient water softening methods? Then you should think about having your own water softener...

How do the different decalcification processes work and which one really works?

  1. Physical softening of water
    You can always find suppliers of softener plants on the Internet who offer water softening on a physical basis. Usually a magnet or current-carrying wires are attached to the water pipes. These electric or magnetic fields are intended to change the structure of the lime crystals in the water in such a way that deposits in pipes and appliances are prevented. However, as early as 2000, Stiftung Warentest carried out a major test on these appliances and found that only appliances with an additional ion exchanger had a certain effect. With all other devices, no effect could be proven with regard to the reduction of lime deposits. However, since the physics have not changed in recent years 😉 , it can be assumed that even newer devices have no measurable effect. So perhaps one should advise against these devices.
  2. Chemical softening of water
    Chemical softening works by adding substances to many industrial and household products. These substances interact strongly with the alkaline earth cations, which can then no longer cause calcification. However, these are not removed from the water, but only masked, i.e. made "harmless" in a certain way. Thus the water shows the behaviour of soft water within certain limits. This process is often used, for example, by adding chemical compounds to detergents. However, it is not suitable for a water softener because of the side effects of the substances on the environment.
  3. Cation exchange
    The most common and therefore also most practicable process for water softening is the so-called cation exchange. Here, the water flows through a container filled with cation exchange resin. This exchange resin mainly exchanges the calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+) ions for an equivalent quantity of sodium (Na+) ions. As a result, the water now contains correspondingly more sodium ions and almost no calcium and magnesium ions and is therefore considered softened. All other ions remain in the water.
    However, the ion exchange resin used in this process exhausts itself over time and therefore has to be regenerated. This regeneration takes place with a sodium chloride, i.e. saline solution. The hardness (calcium and magnesium ions) taken up by the ion exchange resin is exchanged for the sodium ions of the salt solution and, for example, the calcium is replaced by sodium. The resulting regenerating solution is then added to the wastewater and is no longer available for further regeneration. This is also the reason why in such water softening plants the regenerating salt is replenished at usually fixed time intervals and a wastewater connection must be available.
    In this type of water softening the effect is so strong that the degree of hardness can be reduced to 0 °dH. This gentle process has no effect on the quality of the drinking water, but merely reduces the degree of hardness.

What does a water softener cost and what are the running costs?

Unfortunately, there is a vast number of suppliers of softening plants with a correspondingly large number of different plants. Therefore it is difficult to give a halfway exact cost statement. The prices for the pure plant move frighteningly enough in a very large price range from about 400.- to nearly 3000.- Dollar. These prices are also dependent on the capacity of the plant, but the wide range is difficult for the layman to understand. Therefore, here is an example of a well rated "middle class system" at Amazon, which is suitable for self-assembly according to the ratings.
Check out this Whirlpool Water Softener for up to 10 people or this one for 1-4 people.

Some affordable Water Softener at ebay

100% Soft Water USA Fleck Metered 48,000 Grains On Demand 5600 Water Softener 100% Soft Water USA Fleck Metered 48,000 Grains On Demand 5600 Water Softener
$499.00
Time Remaining: 4T 13Std 17Min
Buy It Now for only: $499.00
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GE Water Softener System 30,000 Capacity Alarm Indicator Light Programmable GE Water Softener System 30,000 Capacity Alarm Indicator Light Programmable
$412.35
Time Remaining: 26T 11Std 34Min
Buy It Now for only: $412.35
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Fleck built Fleck 5600sxt 64k Water Softener System - High Capacity - Black Fleck built Fleck 5600sxt 64k Water Softener System - High Capacity - Black
$639.00
Time Remaining: 26T 11Std 24Min
Buy It Now for only: $639.00
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AO SMITH XL WATER SOFTENER 40K GRAIN CAPACITY A0WHSOFT400T AO SMITH XL WATER SOFTENER 40K GRAIN CAPACITY A0WHSOFT400T
$275.00
Time Remaining: 28T 6Std 32Min
Buy It Now for only: $275.00
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GE Water Softener System 30,000 Grain Capacity Programmable GE Water Softener System 30,000 Grain Capacity Programmable
$406.85
Time Remaining: 3Std 7Min
Buy It Now for only: $406.85
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Waterboss 36,400-Grain Water Softener System Model 900 Waterboss 36,400-Grain Water Softener System Model 900
$425.00
Time Remaining: 29T 15Std 50Min
Buy It Now for only: $425.00
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Rinnai 103000038 Scalecutter Water Softener System Rinnai 103000038 Scalecutter Water Softener System
$189.93
Time Remaining: 27T 15Std 10Min
Buy It Now for only: $189.93
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Water Softener 32K 10% Grain Fleck 5600SXT Control Valve METERED ON DEMAND SXT Water Softener 32K 10% Grain Fleck 5600SXT Control Valve METERED ON DEMAND SXT
$539.00
Time Remaining: 25T 13Std 59Min
Buy It Now for only: $539.00
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GE Water Softener 30,000 Grain Capacity Programmable Alarm Indicator Light GE Water Softener 30,000 Grain Capacity Programmable Alarm Indicator Light
$412.25
Time Remaining: 24T 8Std 43Min
Buy It Now for only: $412.25
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Aquasure Water Softener with Fine Mesh Resin for Iron Removal 48,000 Grains Aquasure Water Softener with Fine Mesh Resin for Iron Removal 48,000 Grains
$599.99
Time Remaining: 6T 15Std 8Min
Buy It Now for only: $599.99
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