A few weeks ago, I allowed my mind to wander in the shower as I typically do. Out of no where, I said in an audible voice "I need a whole house water softener." A water softener is something I've wanted for many years. Hard water has been the bane of my existence for as long as I can remember. It coats my shower doors and dishes with a thin layer of mineral deposits. But, worst of all, is how it affects my hair and skin.
Within days of me making that random comment in the shower, I received an unsolicited sales call. The people on the other line wanted to schedule a time for me to have my water tested in exchange for a $25.00 gift card. I happily obliged. Soon, a slick talking salesman was at my home hoping to convince me of the benefits of having a whole house softener. Most of the his sales pitch consisted mainly of information that I was well aware of. But I wasn't completely sold until he gave a demonstration that changed everything.
He pulled out three small empty glass bottles. One bottle he filled with tap water. The other was filled with spring water I purchased from the store. In the last bottle, he poured some water from his special filter. He then went on to add a special chemical to each bottle that would allow us to see the mineral content.
A few moments passed and I was astounded by what I saw.
Bottle #1: Tap Water was cloudy in color and had a thick layer of white powder that collected at the bottom. The white powder, he explained were all the mineral deposits.
Bottle #2: Bottled Spring Water was clear in color with a layer of white powder collected at the bottom. There wasn't as much "white powder" as the tap but there was still quite a bit.
Bottle #3: Filtered soft water was clear in color with no white mineral powder.
He then asked me to pour myself a cup of tap water and a cup of his filtered water from my tap to see if I could taste the difference. After taking a couple sips of the filtered tap water, I could barely stomach the taste of the plain tap water. It had a weird smell and tasted quite strong perhaps because of all the chemicals added to it by the city. Although I couldn't remember the last time I drank tap water, I still shower with it everyday. We know that our skin is somewhat porous and prone to absorb what it comes in contact with. The through of my body taking in this chemical-laden water made me cringe.
I needed a water softener ASAP.
Finally, I made the decision that I had been putting off from years. That same afternoon, the technician installed my new unit. It's been a couple weeks and I'm ready to discuss my first impressions including the pros and cons.
First and foremost, I expected an immediate difference to my skin. Having hard water means that my skin was always covered in a thin layer of white film. Especially on my hands, legs and feet. Since the installation of the water softener, this issue no longer seems to exist. Sure, I still get dry but it's definitely not the same. It's a "normal" level of dryness, not the extreme kind brought on by a layer of hardened minerals.
The best thing about having a whole house filter is that any water that comes out of any faucet is much more hydrating. Which means that I can wash my face or hair anywhere in the house and experience the same wonderful results.
A few days after the softener was installed, I washed my hair. Since then, I've washed about three times and let me tell you....this is where I've seen the biggest difference. As expected, my hair is MUCH more moisturized than before. It's softer, more elastic and responds to products better. I've also noticed increased definition in my curl pattern as well. All these years, I've done everything I could to battle dry hair. But I neglected to make a move on the silver bullet that could have solved all of my problems.
Hydrated hair has saved me a little more time on wash day. I suspect that long term, my retention will improve since I'll no longer have a layer of rock particles coating my hair. Even though I'm excited about this awesome benefit, there's also a drawback. I realized that I have to be a bit more diligent when rinsing out product. One endearing quality about bathing with soft water is that feeling of silkiness on the skin after you rinse. It still feels like you haven't fully rinsed of your body wash. I think the same thing happens with our hair. This could be a good thing but could lead to product buildup on the stands if we aren't careful.
Aside from the hair/skin benefits, there's also the fact that your clothes feel softer after doing laundry and my glasses no longer have a white film covering them..which is a plus.
The only negative aspect about having a whole house softener is that it's not really recommended that we drink soft water. During this demonstration, it appeared as if the soft, filtered water was the best option for drinking. The bottle demonstration he did was to convince me of that. But one thing he said didn't quite make sense to me. He said something along the lines of "see all of that white stuff in your water, it's all the calcium and magnesium." In my mind, I'm like "but isn't calcium/magnesium good for you?" I question his logic out loud but he still tried to convince me that my bottled water was "bad" simply due to the presence of minerals.
The minute he turned the corner, I did a little research and, sure enough, I discovered online sources that urge us not to drink soft water because the minerals found in hard water seem to have heart protective qualities. Some studies indicate that people who live in hard water areas are less prone to heart related issues over time. So, in the end, I still drink my store bought spring water because I want the internal benefits. Heck, I even add a few additional drops of liquid minerals
for extra nutrition. But I don't want it sitting on my skin.
Looking back, I wish I had made the decision sooner. The difference I noticed was almost immediate and they continue to be evident weeks later. If you live in a hard water area and constantly struggling with chronic dryness, I invite you to consider making this investment.