You've probably had a bit of experience with soft water and hard water. A water's "hardness" comes from minerals like calcium and magnesium, which can, over time, leave deposits in your shower and appliances--including your water heater, washing machine and even your coffee maker. Those minerals also inhibit the sudsing action of soap and detergents, meaning you need more to get clean. And they can even affect the water's flavor. Because of Florida's predominant limestone foundation, our fresh water here can be very hard. If you drink unfiltered southwest Florida tap water, you may have become accustomed to the taste of hard water, but your cloths, skin and appliances will still suffer the effects.
The safest, most common way to soften your water is with sodium, a so-called "soft" mineral. The way it works boils down to chemistry. Calcium, magnesium and sodium are all positively charged ions, but sodium has a weaker charge. The tank of a water softener includes negatively charged resin beads that are attached to the positively charged sodium ions. When hard water passes through the tank, the beads have a stronger attraction to the stronger charges of the calcium and magnesium, so the beads latch onto those hard minerals and drop hold of the sodium.
After time, all of the sodium will be released and the beads will need to be recharged with a brine that washes away the hard minerals and replaces them with sodium again.
This does not mean you're drinking salty water.
The amount of sodium added to your water depends on how hard it is to begin with--something we can determine when we test your water. To find out how much sodium the water softener adds to your water, simply multiply your "hard water number" by 30 (which will tell you how much sodium is added to a whole gallon) and then divide by 16 (the number of 8 oz. cups in a gallon).
For instance, a hard water number of 10 means each glass of 8 oz. glass of softened water will have 18.75 mg of added sodium--which is less than you'd find in a glass of orange juice, and 1/6 the amount of sodium you'd find in a glass of milk.
If you have a medical condition that requires you to have extremely limited sodium consumption, we can make sure that the water you drink and cook with bypasses the system. At the same time, your shower and appliances will benefit from the newly softened water.