Filtering and purifying your water with solar power is a great idea. However, it also makes sense to consider the effects of that purification on the environment. Most solar-powered water softeners are salt-based and have some adverse effects on the environment that cannot be ignored. Before you decide on using one, let’s explore why salt-based water softeners hurt the environment.
What Are Salt-Based Water Softeners
Unlike the Springwell Futuresoft salt-free water softener, which use the Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) water filtration process to remove hard water minerals from water, salt-based water softeners use a process known as ion exchange instead. Both kinds of water softeners, however, do the same thing; soften water for convenient use and rid the water of all forms of impurities. The ion exchange process of the salt-based water softener effectively removes sodium magnesium from the water, but at the cost of increased sodium chloride.
How Salt-Based Water Softeners Work
Pan The Organizer will explain in his video, how a regular household water softener works. Let’s take a look:
A salt-based water softener removes hard water minerals like sodium magnesium through the process of ion exchange. In cases where there are resins present in the water, salt-based water softeners also eliminate such. Just as the name implies, the primary function of a water softener is to turn ‘hard’ water ‘soft.’
Salt-based water softeners have a metered valve (electronic) on the resin tank. The valve is then used to measure the quantity of water in the tank. Once the water reaches the required level, the softener will begin the filtration process. The hard water ions that enter the tank are then exchanged with salt ions (sodium chloride).
The resin tank has a media bed that holds the hard water ions as the salt ions pass through the bed. The media bed bonds the salt ion that is exchanged during the process. The filtration is carried out in cycles. After each cycle, the water goes to the pipes, filtered and free from calcium and magnesium but containing more sodium chloride. The cycle continues until the media bed is depleted. The water softener begins the process of regeneration, which takes up gallons of water.
How Salt-Based Water Softeners Harm the Environment
Salt-based water softeners have devastating effects on the environment due to their nature and the process used for the filtration system. Some of the harmful effects of salt-based water softeners are mentioned below.
Harmful to Freshwater Plants
Freshwater plants support the life cycle of many fish and shellfish. Due to the high sensitivity of freshwater plants to salt components, the continuous watering of such plants with water that has gone through the salt-based water softeners is detrimental to the plants. The salt gradually builds up until the plants can no longer bear the level of salt being administered to them. The water slowly and steadily kills the plants.
The effects of salt-based water softeners on plants are most noticeable in environments that do not experience regular rainfall since rainwater is known to dilute the salt concentration. To avoid such issues, households should avoid installing a salt-based water softener to the pipe connected to their gardens.
They Are Hazardous to Vegetation
You may think that the salt-based water softener you use in your household does not affect your neighbors or your area. This could, however, not be farther from the truth. Each time you use the shower, do the dishes or perform other domestic activities with water, most of the water goes down the drain.
The water returns to the earth with the harmful substances contained within it. From there, it can make its way into the roots of vegetation and slowly poison them.
They Are Harmful to the Aquatic Environment
In order to curtail the adverse effects of salt-based water softeners, the accumulated household wastewaters are treated to reduce the concentration of salt in the wastewaters. In places where this is done, the salt concentrates don’t just vanish into thin air. Instead, they are discharged into the oceans and other water bodies, sometimes lakes and rivers.
The discharged salt concentrates go on to harm aquatic life, especially in freshwaters. This decreases the performance, survival, and lifespan of marine organisms, changes in their metabolic rate, and increased osmolyte concentration in their body fluids, among other effects.
Substantial Waste of Water and Other Resources
Even though salt-based water softeners are very effective in softening hard water, a lot of water is wasted in the process. This is due to the process of regeneration, which is when part of the water being softened is used to regenerate depleting sodium chloride-rich mediums during the softening process.
Typical salt-based water softeners can waste approximately 150 gallons of water weekly and nearly 8,000 gallons annually. The wasted water adds to the water bill, thereby automatically increasing the water supply cost in a community. Also, the city or community is faced with the burden of providing more and more water in the community. If not checked quickly, this could result in water scarcity in affected areas.