A water softener is a device that removes minerals from hard water. There are a few methods water softeners use, but Campbell says the three most common are:
Salt-based ion exchange softeners: These work by exchanging the hardness minerals in water (primarily calcium and magnesium) for small amounts of sodium. According to Campbell, salt-based softeners are ideal for excessively hard water, such as well water.
Salt-free water conditioners: Salt-free water conditioners work by crystallizing the minerals in your water, and preventing them from sticking to surfaces.
Electromagnetic descalers: These water softeners alter the chemical structure of the minerals, so they can’t adhere to surfaces.
By installing a water softener in your home, you can increase the efficiency of your pipes and water-based appliances, and even reduce the time it takes to heat up your water. Campbell reiterates that softer water is also beneficial for smoother skin and stronger, healthier looking hair, and can help your dishes come through the wash actually looking clean.
When your pipes are flowing with soft water, suddenly everything is better. Soap and shampoo lather more easily, and laundry feels softer to the touch. Making the swap is a simple way to elevate your everyday routine—and while some of the best water softeners may seem like a splurge now, installing one will save you money and time in the long run.