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Improving Water Quality: The Role of Softeners

What is a water softener?


A water softeners are a common household appliance that many homeowners turn to for improving the quality of their water. These appliances are effective at addressing a specific issue: water hardness. Essentially they remove the calcium and magnesium that can build up and damage your plumbing. It can lead to scale buildup, reduced soap effectiveness, and even shorten the life of your appliances such as water heaters, dish washers and more.

However, there’s a common misconception that water softeners make your water safer to drink. That is one super power they do not have.

What water softeners do:

They DO make detergents more effective and they remove excessive minerals that can cause costly damage to you plumbing.

Mineral Removal: Water softeners work by employing a process called ion exchange. They swap calcium and magnesium ions in your water for sodium or potassium ions, effectively “softening” the water. If these minerals may sound familiar, that’s not surprising. Sodium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium are all electrolytes, similar to what may be found in a sports drink, but in much smaller quantities.

Scale Prevention: The removal of these minerals prevents scale buildup in pipes, water heaters, and appliances, which can save you money on maintenance and repairs.

Enhanced Cleaning: With softened water, you’ll notice improved soap lathering and detergent effectiveness, leading to cleaner dishes, clothes, and a more satisfying shower experience.

What water softeners don’t do:

Water softeners DO NOT make water safer to drink. If you have bacteria or other contaminants in your water, a filtration system will be required to remove them.

Water Purification: Water softeners are not water filters. They do not remove contaminants like bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, or chemical pollutants from your water supply.

Health Benefits: While they improve the taste and feel of water, water softeners do not make water safer to drink. At the same time, they do not make the water less safe either. The amount of sodium added to your water by a water softener is minimal.

Contaminant Removal: If you’re concerned about specific contaminants like PFAS, nitrates, E. coli, arsenic, or others, a water softener won’t address these issues.

To ensure the safety of your drinking water, it’s vital to have it professionally tested if you suspect any contaminants. Depending on the results, you may need additional water treatment solutions such asreverse osmosis systems, UV purifiers, or specialized filters.


In conclusion, water softeners play a valuable role in improving water quality by addressing hardness issues. They protect your plumbing and appliances while enhancing your overall water-using experience. However, it’s essential to understand their limitations. Water softeners do not purify water or make it safer to drink. For comprehensive water safety, it’s best to combine water softeners with appropriate water treatment solutions tailored to your specific needs.

Not everyone needs a water softener

Test before you buy!

Not all water contains high levels of the minerals that cause hard water. The only way to know is to have your waterprofessionally tested. U.S. Water offers comprehensive well water testing services through itsWisconsin state-certified water testing lab. This not only ensures the most accurate testing, we also screen for other toxins that may be present. And with our test facility onsite, you are guaranteed fast turnaround time.