A better approach to water softening

Water softeners lead to chloride pollution

Man pouring salt into a residential water softenerMinnesota’s lakes and rivers are among the state’s most beloved features, but the excessive use of salt to treat winter sidewalks and soften water threatens the health of these waterways. Chloride (salt) in lakes and rivers is an issue of growing concern. Two sources of salt pollution — sidewalk deicing and water softeners — offer homeowners a chance to make a difference.

How to Decrease Your Salt Use

Many homeowners assume their water needs to be softened, but in certain cities throughout the metro, water is centrally treated before it reaches homes and businesses. Here are concrete steps you can take to reduce your salt use at home.

  1. Test Your Water’s Hardness & Streamline Softening: Take a water sample from a source that isn’t softened, such as a garden hose. If you do find that your water is hard, check the calibration on your water softener to make sure you don’t overdo it. One method to reduce the amount of salt used by your water softener is to extend the time between regeneration cycles. You should also set your system to only soften hot water taps, further minimizing salt use with an existing system.
  2. Upgrade Your Water Softener: Newer water softeners are more efficient and use less salt. One sign that you may be due for an upgrade is if you’re using more than one 40 lb. bag of salt in a month. Check with your local watershed management organization to see whether you might qualify for a grant to upgrade to a more efficient water softener.
  3. Shovel First, Salt Sparingly When the snow flies, take a proactive approach to shoveling to reduce the need to salt. Removal, using a variety of tools such as a broom and steel-tipped shovel will help prevent ice from forming. If you must use it, sidewalk deicing salt is only effective when the temperature is above 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Scatter individual grains of salt broadly, leaving an inch or two between each particle.

Read the full article at Clean Water MN