Perhaps you recently installed a water softener to banish the woes of hard water in your home. Goodbye, mineral deposits! Goodbye, dehydrated skin! However, once the system is up and running, you begin to notice something. When you wash your hands, shower, clean dishes, or complete any other task requiring water, you notice the water seems slimy or slippery.
Since this isn’t the ideal outcome for most folks, you might be left scratching your head, wondering what could possibly cause this. In some cases, the water might be too soft, and in others, you might be using too much soap. Here’s what you need to know about your water quality.
What Is Hard Water?
Before we get into the specifics of soft water and if it can be too soft, let’s look at hard water. Hard water contains calcium and magnesium molecules, but the content of those minerals determines the degree of hardness. The higher the content, the harder the water.
Although you can’t usually visualize any differences between hard water and soft water, the effects of each water are quite different. Hard water is easy to spot because it leaves behind buildup – when the water molecules evaporate on various surfaces (bathroom faucet, kitchen counter, etc.), they leave behind the mineral content (magnesium and calcium).
The mineral deposits left behind appear as chalky white buildup on fixtures and appliances, and on certain surfaces, it’s hard to miss. In addition, you can “feel” hard water when you wash your hands, take a shower, etc. For example, you might feel like your skin feels sticky to touch or hard to slide your hand across. This is how hard water affects your skin, so you can tell if the water is hard by how it “feels.”
What Is Soft Water?
On the other hand, soft water is water that doesn’t contain calcium or magnesium molecules. Conventional water softeners remove these minerals in the processing stages by using resin beads. The system draws hard water over the resin beads, where an ion exchange occurs.
The system exchanges calcium or magnesium molecules for sodium molecules, leaving behind what we call “soft” water. Some folks describe soft water as slippery – instead of a sticky feeling (like hard water), your hand might glide across your skin easier, making it feel slippery.
Can Soft Water Cause Problems?
Over-softened water can become problematic for some folks, although most folks will go unbothered by its effects. For example, soft water can be an issue for folks with diabetes, folks with high blood pressure, babies, or pets. It can lead to severe complications for these categories, so it’s essential to consider this aspect when installing a home water softener.
In addition, the sodium content in water can make it an unsuitable source for watering your plants, as too much sodium can actually kill them.
However, for most folks, soft water won’t cause any issues. In fact, it can aid in the prevention of dry skin. Hard water can dry out your skin quite a bit, so you might notice you use quite a bit of moisturizer to keep your skin feeling healthy. Soft water, on the other hand, can help avoid these issues (although you should still moisturize).
As far as consumption goes, most folks don’t have any issues with drinking soft water. That said, some folks switching from one to the other might notice a different taste in their drinking water. Hard water has various minerals, which can add flavor to the water, whereas soft water from a properly functioning water softener doesn’t usually taste.
Can Water Be Too Soft?
The water coming from your water softener can sometimes be too soft. You might notice that dishes slide out of your hands when you’re washing them, or the water feels somewhat slimy. Or, maybe your skin may feel uncomfortably slick in the shower, and it takes extra work to make the soapy sensation go away.
Generally, this results from using too much salt in your water softener. It oversoftens the water, leaving your skin feeling slimy and uncomfortable.
What Does Too-Soft Water Feel Like?
Some folks question whether their water is too soft because it feels more slippery than it should. Although soft water typically feels slippery, some people describe it as slimy, which is an unpleasant sensation (especially when trying to shower or wash dishes).
How Do You Fix Too-Soft Water?
If your water feels too soft, there are a few things you can do to adjust the softness. Sometimes, the fix is as simple as using less soap, but in other scenarios, you might need to change your water softener’s settings or consider a water neutralizer.
Use Less Soap
Avoid using excessive amounts of soap when you’re showering, washing your hands, or cleaning dishes. While we don’t recommend skipping the soap (it’s important), using too much soap can lead to slimy, slippery sensations. So, try using less soap during various tasks to see if that corrects the issue.
Adjust Your Water Softener’s Settings
In some cases, the water softener’s settings are incorrect. If you installed the system by yourself without completing the necessary testing and programming, the settings might be incorrect. This can mean the default setting is too high for your home, which adds too much salt to your water after regeneration, leading to a slippery sensation.
Using too much salt affects how the water feels and can lead to excessive salt waste, which translates to money waste. To correct this issue, adjust your settings to ensure optimal function and programming.
Add A Water Neutralizer
Alternatively, you could add a water neutralizer, which adds calcium back into the water, making it feel less soft. This is somewhat counter-intuitive, as a water softener’s purpose is to remove these minerals. However, if you’d like to “add” some softener back into the system, consider incorporating a water neutralizer.