The Hidden Costs – And Risks – of Soft Water

Many Americans live in areas with hard or extremely hard water and increasingly rely on water softening systems to improve the quality of their water and to protect plumbing. But did you know that, depending upon the system you choose, you could be doing more harm than good?

If you’re one of the many homeowners who use a water-softening system, you know that it can radically improve your water quality.

Your soap and shampoo lather up better. You step out of your shower leaving less of a ring behind. Your skin feels softer and your hair has more life!

Your dishes aren’t spotty like they used to be. You even notice your clothes get cleaner when washed with soft water, and you don’t have to use as much detergent.

And you have the peace of mind knowing your plumbing and appliances are protected from the buildup of scale deposits – or the crusty buildup of minerals, clearly one of the biggest issues with hard water.

But, I must warn you… all of these seemingly positive benefits don’t come without their hidden costs – and risks. Especially if you use the most popular and commonly used type of water softener today.

Before we talk about softening your water, let’s briefly explore what makes it hard in the first place…

What Is Causing Your Hard Water?

“Hard” water is simply water that contains more minerals, in particular calcium and magnesium. As a general rule, the more minerals your water contains, the “harder” your water.

As you can see from the map below, if you live in the continental U.S., there’s a very good chance your water falls into the hard to extremely hard range.

U.S. Water Hardness Map

In other words, the areas with a high degree of water hardness – which is a good part of the country – have substantial amounts of calcium and magnesium in their water.

Why Soften Your Household Water?

Household Water Pipes
The buildup of scale on water pipes can damage plumbing and appliances

Many homeowners consider their hard water a nuisance:

  • Can leave behind a residue or “soap curd” in the shower
  • Fabric colors fade and whites yellow faster
  • Shortened fabric life
  • Increased wear and tear on your washing machine
  • Laundry requires more detergent and water
  • Scale builds up inside pipes and plumbing, reducing the life of appliances like dishwashers and water heaters

As hard water runs through your plumbing and appliances, it can leave behind deposits from calcium and magnesium in the form of “scale.” Scale deposits grow and harden over time, making them very difficult to remove.

Scale buildup on the inside and outside of pipes and heating elements can lead to serious problems:

  • Reduce the inner diameter of pipes and elbows, affecting your water flow rate and pressure
  • Encrust internal moving parts of valves and components, jeopardizing safety
  • Reduce system and appliance efficiency and increase operating costs

To counteract the effects of hard water, many homeowners – and even municipalities – opt to soften their water using a sodium-based water softener.

With this popular type of water softening system, softer water is created by exchanging sodium ions for the minerals that make your water “hard” – calcium and magnesium. Calcium and magnesium in the water are replaced with sodium and possibly other chemicals.

The harder your water, the more sodium your softening system requires to effectively exchange the calcium and magnesium ions.

Salt-Softened Water and Its Unintended Consequences

Salt-treated Water
Over time, salt-treated water can destroy soil quality and nutrients

To summarize, with today’s popular salt-based softening systems, you end up with water that:

  • Contains sodium chloride and possibly other chemicals
  • Is missing healthy minerals, like calcium and magnesium
  • Sometimes feels slimy and slippery to the touch

And here’s something else you may not know about salt-softened water… When you water your plants with water that contains salt, it can build up in the soil and eventually kill your plants!

That’s not all…

In the bigger picture, the sodium in your wastewater ends up in your city’s water source. Wastewater containing high levels of salt must be treated, but it’s often simply discharged into the ocean where it can affect fish and sea life.

Or it may be used to irrigate agricultural lands and parks. As the salt accumulates in the soil, soil becomes more and more compacted. Plants suffer from a loss of vital nutrients. More, not less, water is needed to saturate the soil.

Research suggests there may be adverse health effects, too, associated with using a sodium-based water softener.

For those on a very strict sodium restricted diet, the extra intake of sodium through skin absorption while showering and from drinking water, although small, may be risky to certain individuals.

Are You Making a Mistake by Removing the Calcium and Magnesium From Your Water?

Calcium and magnesium play a number of important roles in your health:

  • Strong bones and teeth
  • Healthy heart function
  • Muscle contraction
  • Nerve impulse transmission
  • Blood clotting
  • Cellular health

And magnesium is a cofactor for about 350 cellular enzymes, many involved in energy production.

So, could the naturally occurring calcium and magnesium you get in hard water actually contribute to your health and potentially help prevent disease?

In April 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) assembled a large group of experts to address this question.

As more people than ever drink bottled water, which varies in mineral content, and choose to soften their household water with ion-exchange systems, their findings are especially important.

Here’s what this panel of WHO experts discovered:

  • Typical diets around the world are often deficient in calcium and magnesium.
  • The average American’s intake of magnesium has declined remarkably over the past century. Processed foods contain very little magnesium.
  • The naturally occurring calcium and magnesium you get from drinking water helps contribute to your total mineral intake.
  • There is evidence that drinking “hard” water with high levels of calcium and magnesium may be associated with reduced risks of certain diseases.
  • Calcium from “hard” water can be beneficial for bone health by suppressing bone resorption.
  • Minerals in water are in ionic form and are more easily absorbed in your gastrointestinal tract.
  • The magnesium found in drinking water is more bioavailable than magnesium from foods.

To me, these findings are striking. Knowing how important magnesium and calcium are to your health – and how limited your intake from food sources may be – do you really want to remove these minerals from your drinking water?

7 Criteria for the ‘Ideal’ Water Treatment System

I agree, hard water can be a nuisance and a serious threat to the longevity of your plumbing system and appliances, such as your dishwasher, washing machine, and water heater. Where I live, we have extremely hard water.

Yet, there must be a better way to counterbalance hard water’s negative effects than replacing healthy minerals with sodium and harmful chemicals…

In evaluating water treatment systems, I knew the ideal one had to meet these seven criteria:

  • Able to treat the water throughout your entire home without adding salt or harmful chemicals.
  • The healthy minerals – calcium and magnesium – remain in your water.
  • Significantly reduce scale and protect internal pipes and plumbing from corrosion without the harshness of salt.
  • Could help dissolve existing buildup of scale in pipes.
  • Waste water leaving your home would not contain excessive amounts of sodium that might harm aquatic environments, farmlands, and soils.
  • Low maintenance and long lasting filter cartridge – would last at least five years
  • Doesn’t simply replace sodium with potassium – while a potassium-based water softener system may not be as toxic to the environment as salt, it still removes the calcium and magnesium using ion-exchange

It wasn’t easy but I finally found a solution that met ALL seven of my criteria…

A Smarter, Healthier Way to Treat Your Water…
Without the Salt – Or Potassium

Perfect Water Drop
The Perfect Water Drop: Contains healthy minerals but won’t harm plumbing

Now, thanks to advanced technology, you no longer need to rely on using sodium chloride – or even potassium – to treat your water. You can have the important benefits of softened water – like reducing scale on your plumbing and prolonging the life of your appliances – without getting rid of the healthy minerals in your water!

The Simply Soft Salt-FREE Water Treatment System is an effective, eco-friendly solution to hard water problems. This system:

  • Does NOT remove the naturally occurring healthy minerals such as calcium and magnesium from your water
  • Does NOT put excess salt waste or chemicals into your waste water or the environment
  • DOES protect your home’s internal plumbing from the adverse effects of iron and scale buildup
  • DOES help extend the life of your washing machine, water heater, dishwasher, and other appliances

The Innovative Salt-Free Technology That Naturally
and Safely Reduces Scale Buildup

You may be wondering… How can a technology protect your home’s plumbing if it doesn’t remove minerals from your water?

The Simply Soft Salt-FREE Water Treatment System uses advanced Nucleation Assisted Crystallization (NAC) salt-free softening technology to reduce scale buildup on internal pipes and plumbing without the use of salt or chemicals.

In simple terms, this is how it works:

  1. Rather than removing anything, this technology uses your home’s water flow to inhibit scale buildup in your pipes.
  2. A special media inside the cartridge transforms dissolved hard minerals into harmless crystal particles.
  3. These inactive, microscopic particles harmlessly pass through your water and down the drain.

One important point to keep in mind… The special media remains in the tank and does not migrate into your water – ever.

Bottom line, you get water throughout your home that won’t harm your plumbing, pipes, or appliances, but still provides the healthy benefits of hard water’s minerals!

The 6-6-90 Plan – Long Lasting AND Low Maintenance

Soft Water Treatment System
Dr. Mercola's Healthy Home Simply Soft Salt-FREE Water Treatment System

Gone are the days of lugging around 50-pound bags or blocks of salt. With the Simply Soft Salt-FREE Water Treatment System, you don’t need a power source, drainage for wastewater, or complicated salt or chemical replacement.

What could be simpler?

The Simply Soft Salt-FREE Water Treatment System is designed to be long lasting and easy to replace. With each system, you get 6 years of life with a 6-year warranty and a 90-day guarantee.

This long lasting and low maintenance system:

  • Provides softer water throughout your entire home without adding salt, potassium, or harmful chemicals.
  • Leaves naturally occurring healthy minerals – calcium and magnesium – in your water.
  • Reduces scale by 99.6% and protects internal pipes and plumbing from corrosion.
  • Helps extend the life of your appliances.
  • Helps dissolve existing buildup of scale in pipes.
  • Does not dump sodium or chemicals into your waste water to harm aquatic environments, farmlands, and soils.
  • Lasts 6 years with a 6-year warranty and 90-day guarantee.

In my opinion, this water treatment system is a true win-win.

It’s better for you, and it’s better for the environment. You get the benefits of both softer water AND the health benefits of calcium and magnesium.

Order your new system today – you won’t be disappointed!

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Top 6 Frequently Asked Questions
  1. 1. Does the Simply Soft Salt-FREE Water Treatment System filter the impurities out of my water?

    No, the softening system does not filter your water or remove chlorine and other impurities. Either hard water or soft water can contain these contaminants. For the assurance of clean and safe water, we recommend you install a water filter if you don’t already have one. This water treatment system works alone or with our Pure & Clear Whole House Water Filter, for either city water or well water

  2. 2. Will this remove scale that has already built up in my pipes and plumbing?

    Yes, over time, it will help pull the scale through your pipes. However, at time of installation, you can be assured that it’s protecting you from any new buildup immediately.

  3. 3. Since the system doesn’t remove minerals, will I see spots on my glasses and dishes?

    Unlike salt-based softeners that replace minerals like calcium with salt, this system uses the flow of your water to alter the charge of hard minerals. Once changed, they no longer bind to one another to create scale. Hard minerals remain in your water and pass safely through your pipes and down the drain.

    If the calcium levels in your water are high enough, harmless calcium spots can still occur on areas where water is left sitting like glassware, countertops, pots, pans, chrome faucets, or stainless steel

  4. 4. How will the water feel on my skin?

    Because the system does not replace hard minerals with salt, your water will not feel slimy or slippery as it would with salt-based softeners.

  5. 5. Will I be able to use less soap and detergent with the Simply Soft Salt-FREE Water Treatment System?

    Yes, you’ll be able to reduce your soap and detergent by up to 40%, which will save you money.

  6. 6. Do I need a licensed plumber to install the Simply Soft Salt-FREE Water Treatment System?

    Yes, we recommend you have a licensed plumber install the system for you to ensure that it is installed properly. Since most licensed plumbers carry insurance to cover any damages caused by an installation error, having a licensed plumber install the system will give you the security that the work was done properly and that the installation is backed by the plumbing company's insurance plan. Not having the system installed by a licensed plumber will void your warranty.

Simply Soft Salt-FREE Water Treatment System Limited Warranty

The Simply Soft Salt-FREE Water Treatment Systems are carefully tested before shipment from the manufacturer, who warrants this product to be free from defects, material and workmanship for a limited warranty period of six years from the date of purchase.

If your Simply Soft Salt-FREE Water Treatment Systems become defective in any way, simply contact our customer service department within the limited warranty period from the date of purchase, and we will replace the damaged part free of charge (excluding shipping costs if applicable).

Because we market all of our own products directly to consumers, we work to make sure that each sale results in a customer for life. We understand that our most valuable asset is a satisfied customer, and we work hard to keep our customers and maintain the highest level of customer satisfaction.

Only the original purchaser may submit a claim under this Limited Warranty.

To obtain your product’s limited warranty, please contact our customer service department.

Mercola Health Resources, LLC

Phone: 877-985-2695, or visit us at:

Shipping Restrictions
  • We do not ship Simply Soft Salt-FREE Water Treatment Systems, replacement units and accessories outside the US and Canada or to P.O. Boxes.
Important Note
  • Simply Soft Salt-FREE Water Treatment Systems and Simply Soft Salt-FREE replacement units should be installed by a licensed plumber per the warranty requirements. Installation should only take one to three hours.
Return Policy
  • The customer is responsible for return shipping costs as well as a 15% restocking fee for select water systems. If an item is defective, please refer to the manufacturer’s warranty. Simply Soft Salt-FREE Water Treatment Systems and Simply Soft Salt-FREE replacement units cannot be returned after 30 days unless you are a Preferred or PremierPlus member, in which you have up to 90 days to return these items.

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