The Hard Truth About Water Softeners

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Subject: Water Softener is a must these days

Water softeners have kind of become necessary in this modern day age. Having a perfectly balanced water is very essential and that's where these softeners play their roles. Thanks for this awesome resource.


Subject: water softener versus salt free unit

I am in need of something to take the calcium deposits off of my faucets, dishwasher, coffeepot. Have been reading about the alternate of installing a salt free unit that would also help clean out the plumbing pipes etc. Any thoughts on this?


Subject: Hard Water problems

We have well water. We have an aerator due to sulfur. We also have a water softener. We have a white powdery build-up on shower walls. I can wipe my hand on it and my hands have the white powder on them and when I wet it it gets sticky/gunky and gets gritty. Have to use soap to get the sticky feel off of my hands. I can only imagine what this water is doing to my hair. I have a black shampoo bottle in my shower and it is streaked with white where the water has hit it. The same buildup is on it. I do know we have iron problems and use the salt for iron in our water softener. Without the softener, our water is yellow. It is still yellow sometimes.

My dishwasher is stainless inside and has the same white powdery buildup. I did the vinegar wash everyone recommends and it didn't phase it. The same kind of buildup is on the propeller thing in the bottom that is on my shower walls.

I am so frustrated with our water. I don't know what we need to do. I've heard Culligan etc. entire house treatment systems are usually good, but very expensive. But, I'm at the point if I have to make payments for the rest of my life for a good water system, then that's what I may have to do. Any recommendations?


Subject: Water softener or house filtration

I need to do something about my water, but don't know which is better? We are a DYI family, but with such a big investment, I want it to be the best one choice.

Sharyn Simmons

Subject: water softner

Recently had our water sofetner taken out and now my dishwasher is not getting my glasses and tableware clean. There is a milky scum on my glasses. I have spoken with the Bosch tech service but after doing what they suggested it seems worse. Question is, can I have a water softener installed only on the dishwasher lines?


Subject: water softener comments

We have had a water softener for about 20 years. For others' benefits, I would make these comments:
(1) Softened water for the dishwasher will lead to etched glasses. We learned that you have to use quite a bit less dishwasher detergent and do not use the pre-measured packets or pods. We use a tablespoon of detergent per load and the etching is greatly reduced if not eliminated.
(2) I have read/seen pronouncements that soft water will prolong the life of any water-using appliances (from coffee makers to washing machines) but please be cautioned that we have discovered that the salts introduced into soft water will wear the sacrificial anode in a water heater significantly quicker than "hard" water. We have had to replace two water heaters (fortunately with warranty benefits but still had to pay for labor) before we realized this was the problem.

Lois Swon

Subject: water softener & hair color

Is it possible for a water softener to turn your hair a greenness color? Or would you have any idea what would be making the green tint in our hair?


Subject: Green hair/tint

Things turning green does not come from chlorine, it comes from copper pipes interacting with the chemicals (think of a copper penny that has been sitting in a water fountain). Our pool guys taught us this, same applies to indoor plumbing they said.


Subject: chlorine

I was on this site looking for information on water softeners and ran across your question. I'm no expert, but I know when I was a kid our hair would turn green from the public swimming pool because of too much chlorine. If you are on a public system that chlorinates their water, this may be your problem??


Subject: Water cleaner

Water softeners are a great tool in adding up into your water system, it not just makes you a healthier person but it also has a good effects not only in your hair but also with your hands. You should try it now because it has lots of benefits and you won't regret installing it.


Subject: Healthy softener water

Softener water is NOT healthy for you. It launches the level of sodium in your later up high. I don't know who taught you that, but you may want to do some more research. This is why I'm thinking of going into the business.

Jim Nenow

Subject: Water softner

We had a water softener installed about 6 months ago. I does a great job, but the water is yellow & as a soft water taste, Our water has a very high iron content. Is there something we can add to our system to get rid of the taste & color, or are we stuck with it?

Michelle LeGault

Subject: Solution to yellow water problem

Hi Jim,

I'm one of the Angie's List Experts! Have you taken care of this yet? If you haven't yet already. I would get your water tested for iron. There are whole-house iron filters that can help with discoloration in the water, but you will want to make sure you know what exactly is putting color in your water before you make a decision to purchase.

Best of luck!

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I actually just replaced my Pelican Natursoft "water softener" with an more-traditional ion exchange model.  I used the natursoft for a little over 4 years, and I can say it worked as advertised.  When remodeling a while back we decided to get a tankless water heater.  All the documentation indicated that hard water with the tankless heater is a no go.  We had to do somehting, but since I'm lazy (didn't want to deal with the salt or plumbing in a drain) and my wife didn't like soft water, the salt-free model looked attractive.  I too was somewhat skeptical, but the reviews I found looked good, and I know enough about the science of nucleation (I was a material science major in college) to know that what they said made sense, so I bought one.


One thing needs to be made clear - the natursoft system is NOT a water softener!  It contains a media which nucleates some disolved metalic salts out of solution.  These crystals, once formed, remain in the water, and still react with oils, detergents, etc. in the same manner as the disolved salts.  They also continue to form scale wherever water is allowed to evaporate, such as faucet nozels and shower heads. In fact, it's possible that evaporative scaling was even worse than before we installed the system.


Importantly, however, once in crystaline form, these salts do not stick to pipes, or in my case, heat-exchangers.  My tankless heater has a sensor to indicate when it needs to be descaled, and the manual indicates that for my water hardness and hot water use I should have had to descale approximately every 6 months.  In four years with the natursoft the descaleing indicator has never gone off.  For further evidence, when I installed my new softener a few weeks ago, I had to cut sections from the copper pipe on both the inlet and outlet side of the natursoft.  Both sections of pipe were installed at the same time as the natursoft, but while the pipe on the inlet side was green and rough on the inside, the outlet pipe looked and felt like new.


As such, if you want or need a salt-free system for some reason (low-sodium diet for blood pressure, don't like the feel of soft water, can't easily plumb a drain into the softener location, or can't carry heavy bags of salt to the softener), then I can unequivocably recommend the natursoft.  If, like my wife and I today, you want soft water, that feels soft on your skin, creates less soap scum, rinses cleaner in the dishwasher, etc., then the natursoft probably isn't for you.


I bought a home with a 9 year old Kinetico in it in 1989. With our family of 6 the Kinetico used 1/2 the salt of two other brands we owned in previous homes, even though the water was harder in the home with the Kinetico non-electric system. When I sold the home in 1993, the buyer insisted I leave them the Kinetico. I bought a new one for my new home, my family grew to 8 and now after 21 years, it has only needed one repair (new resin) 5 years ago.

To answer your question...Kinetico would be a "Mercedes" while others carry the "yugo's." Kinetico offers many models to meet the needs of all families. The single tank Essential unit works well in homes with no iron and 1 or 2 people. Like other single tank systems, it can't provide soft water to your home while it regenerates. However, the Essential only takes 15 minutes to regenerate where electric units might take hours from start to finish. It also carries a full 5 year warranty on all parts. Other systems typically exclude the most important parts after only 1-3 years. All single tank softener can and will occasionally run out of soft water. (laundry day)

The Twin resin tank Kinetico models have several advantages like...5 yr warranty on Signature and Premier models have a 10 year warranty on all parts. So with the twins, you get better water, have virtually unlimited capacity, use less salt, are quiet, use soft water to clean themselves, use no electricity, have no clocks, batteries or computers to ever repair or reset. Power outages & surges have no effect on them. Having a Kinetico sold me on their value. Ask your dealer about renting one, so you can try before you buy. 

P.M. Kalamazoo