Are you frustrated after spending a lot of money on various shower filters that don’t give the results you're looking for? If you’re tired of dry, itchy skin, dull hair, and water spots covering your shower doors and walls, it's time to consider softening your shower water.
One of the options is to install a shower head water filter. These types of softeners can be priced at around $200. If this is a route you’re interested in taking, beware of some shower filters that will claim to soften water, but fail to chemically change it.
Aside from installing a shower head filter, you can also consider adding bath salts or baking soda to your baths as a way to counter the drying effects of hard water, but then, you'd be taking a bath instead of a shower.
Keep in mind that these solutions fail to help you with all other issues that hard water causes. If you’re experiencing the negative effects of hard water, such as clothes that look dingy and feel rough after being washed, constant limescale deposits in your bathroom, and dishes that are plagued by water stains, installing a shower head water filter won’t resolve these issues.
Using a water softener shower head should make your skin and hair look better, right? So why aren’t you capable of noticing any difference after using such a water softener? Well, the truth is, it's actually not possible for a shower head filter to work as a water softener!
Let's explain why. To soften water, you need to use a large volume of resin, much larger than would ever fit inside a filter the size of your hand. Even if resin was ever put inside a shower filter cartridge, it would be such a small amount that it would only soften the water for a few minutes then it would never soften water again since you wouldn’t be able to regenerate it.
If you aren’t convinced that a shower filter isn’t capable of softening water, try any hard water test kit and it will show no difference in the hardness of water after you add a shower filter. Only a softener can remove the hardness minerals
Simply put, there is not enough time for the water to be softened. Water softening is a long-lasting process.
Here’s how efficient water softeners do it:
Hardwater enters the water softener from your water supply line
Tiny beads (containing sodium) in the resin bedexchange the hard water minerals, removing them from the water and onto the resin bed
Softwater enters your home with none of those hard water minerals like calcium and magnesium
When the resin beads are full of hard water minerals, it’s time for the regeneration process.
During regeneration, the brine is pumped through the resin tank.
The brine solution and the hard water minerals are flushed from the tank into a nearby drain or for reuse before the softening process starts again.
As you can see, every efficient system goes through a regeneration sequence. Even if the shower head water filter would work at first, the beads they use would be charged with minerals in a short time, and without regeneration, they would be essentially useless.
So how do you soften water then?
Now that we explained why using shower head water filters is not a viable solution to getting soft water, let’s take a look at some of the whole home water filtering solutions that are.
Reverse Osmosis Filtration Systems
Reverse osmosis water filtration is one of the best water treatments available for households. This system eliminatesnot just the hard water minerals (calcium and magnesium) in the water, but also the sodium that is exchanged, which can be important to those who have low blood pressure. The end result is healthy and extremely clean tap water.
A reverse osmosis system will push the water through multiple filter mediums until almost all the elements present in the water are removed from it. You can say that this filtration system essentially purifies the water.
Magnetic Water Conditioners
Magnetic water conditioners are not the same as water softeners, but they do reduce the effects of the hard water to some degree. In fact, if you're water source is not very hard to begin with, these may be exactly what you're looking for.
When these units attach to the waterline, they produce a magnetic field. When the hard water passes through the magnetic field, the impurities and salts in the water will change their molecular composition. As a result, instead of sticking together and attaching them to the pipes and appliances in your home, the calcium and magnesium molecules will still be present in the tap water, but will flow freely down the drain.
Keep in mind that if your water source is very hard, the magnetic field produced by the conditioners won't be strong enough to change the behaviour of every calcium and magnesium molecule, and you might not notice any difference when using a conditioner. On the other hand, if your water is not very hard, using a magnetic conditioner might be the cheapest option to your water softening problem.
Salt-Free Water Filter
Salt-free water softeners work similarly to the magnetic conditioners we explained above. These systems are attached to your home’s main water line and they produce a wide range of frequencies.
When the water passes through those frequencies, the molecular structures of the calcium and magnesium change too. By changing their structure, these elements won’t tend to bind to one another, allowing the water to flow freely without causing any limescale buildups on your appliances.
Even though the water won’t produce build-ups, that doesn’t mean that the calcium and magnesium ions won’t be present in it. So in a way, you can say that these systems don’t soften the water at all. However, the results will be present, and you won’t need to use so much soap to wash and your bathroom will look cleaner than ever before.
Sodium Water Softeners
Salt-based water softeners are by far the most popular routes homeowners have taken to soften hard water. One of the reasons they’re so popular is that they’re extremely efficient and cost-effective. These softeners are usually decently priced, and they offer a long-lasting whole-house water softening solution. Basically, a salt-based water softener works to remove high concentrations of calcium and magnesium from water through a process called “ion exchange.” This process “softens” hard water by substituting the hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium) with sodium chloride (salt). It’s a worthwhile investment that could save you headaches as well as money.
Benefits of Using Soft Water In Your Shower
Even though there are no efficient water softener shower heads, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use soft water when you shower. Here is a list of some of the benefits you’ll experience when showering in soft water instead of hard water.
1) Save on Soaps
It might not seem like much, but showering in soft water can lower your costs. Thanks to the reduced mineral content, the acids in the soap will not cling to one another, so you will use less soap, body wash, and shampoo.
2) More Manageable Hair
The minerals in the water not only cling to your shower, but also to your hair as well! As a result, your hair can looks lifeless and dull even right after you wash it. If you use soft water to shower, your hair will look full of life and its color will be better. You might even find that you're able to manage it more easily.
3) Softer Skin
When you wash using hard water, your skin tends to dry out quickly. Even right after you wash it, the skin might feel like there is residue on it. In some rare cases, using hard water to wash can lead to rashes or even eczema. On the other hand, soft water will naturally keep your skin hydrated. Not only will your skin look better, but it will feel better as well. The natural oils on your skin will make it somewhat shiny and give it a healthier look.
As you could see, a water softener shower head is not everything it claims to be. Even if the shower-head filter seems to work for a short amount of time, it won't work in the long run because it has no way to regenerate its resin beads, meaning it cannot flush the calcium and magnesium ions into a different drain.