Water Softener - How do you get safe warm/hot water?

beepsAugust 29, 2012

I'm having a soft water loop installed in my new build and will be getting a water softener. I've had a water softener before and am not sure how I dealt with this issue previously, if I even dealt with it. I may simply not have known or understood and used water for human and animal consumption that I should not have. I really don't remember.

My understanding is that a) you shouldn't drink softened water due to the high sodium content, and b) only the cold water at the kitchen tap will be unsoftened - it will bypass the water softener. So, water is really only fit for consumption if it comes from the cold tap.

This is sounding pretty inconvenient to me. The thing I have to do most often is reconstitute dried dog food with warm water. But, I won't be able to do that any longer because I won't be able to draw consumable warm water from the tap. How do you deal with only being able to use cold water from the tap?

I know there are solutions like microwave the 5-6 cups of water I need or warm them up in a pan on the stove, etc. But seriously... how inconvenient not to just turn on the hot water and mix his food? What do the rest of you do? I'm tempted to have them bypass the entire kitchen sink, but then the dishwasher won't have softened water.

Thoughts?

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itsallaboutthefood

Actually, I don't have a water softner and I never drink warm/hot water from the tap because I heard that the water picks up stuff (minerals etc) from the inside of the water heater and pipes. It's the heat which helps release stuff from the metal. You don't get stuff leaching out of the cold water pipes.

I always heat up cold water in the microwave or stove for human/animal consumption. You could get an electric water kettle. It is very fast, easy, turns off by itself and doesn't splash water all over the microwave when it boils.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 11:49PM
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chiefneil

It depends on how hard your water is, but unless you're on a low sodium diet for a medical condition there isn't enough salt to matter. Mayo clinic says roughly 12.5mg in a glass of softened water. By comparison a slice of regular bread has 114mg, and 10 potato chips have 200mg. The chief has sadly been known to eat >100 pringles chips in one sitting and hasn't yet developed high blood pressure.

I've had all inside water plumbed through the water softener in two houses now for 15 years and highly recommend it. You will definitely want to add your kitchen water unless you're fond of water spots on dishes, glasses, countertops, and your sink.

Get an RO filter if you do need to be on a low-sodium diet. That'll take out all the salt.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mayo clinic on soft water

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 11:56PM
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beeps

Huh. Good to know itsallaboutthefood. And how big a rock have I been living under that I hadn't heard of an electric kettle! I clearly need to get out more. :) Thanks for that suggestion.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 11:57PM
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beeps

Lol on the >100 pringles chief! :) Good to know the sodium content isn't really all that high. Thanks for the info chief.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 12:00AM
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mmhmmgood

I have a whole house water softener. Bypassed are the fridge ice maker, outside taps, and two cold water ins at my cleanup sink. One of those cold water ins is for the faucet, the other is for the instahot.

I don't like the taste of softened water and discussed this at length with my plumber. My instahot is filtered with a carbon filter (like a brita) but not softened. It is NOT ideal, since it WILL decrease the life span of my instahot due to the gradual deposition of hard water deposits, however it isn't terrible either because of the carbon filter. Fortunately the carbon filter actually removes a bit of the water hardening divalent cations (calcium is the usual major culprit). The carbon filter doesn't truly soften the water, but it moderates the effect slightly.

My instahot comes to a faucet at the sink with both hot and cold dispensers, the insinkerator HC wave. So I have a drinking water hot/cold tap with better tasting, filtered (and thus slightly less hard) almost boiling water on the hot side and tap water temperature from the cold side. Then the main faucet at that sink has softened water at the hot and hard water at the cold.

Does that make sense? It's not perfect, and will likely decrease the life of my instahot as I discussed with my plumber, but in his experience in our city he didn't think it would be too much different - maybe the difference of +/-12 months. For me having better tasting water was worth replacing my instahot one year earlier.

hth,
mmhmm

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 12:12AM
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doc8404

I have a whole-house softener and have for 20+ years.

I get warm/hot water one of three ways:

1) Let it run from the hot side of the faucet until warm.
2) Heat cold water in the microwave.
3) Heat cold water on the range.

I have never had any issues with high blood pressure and am unconcerned by my sodium intake be it by table salt or sodium from my water.

Over the years, I have reviewed papers, studies and articles regarding sodium intake in humans until I am blue in the face and at best, we can say the findings are inconclusive.

I'm 58 years old and compete on a national level as a rower so drinking my softened water has in no way hurt me.

Drink your softened water and be happy.

Doc

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 7:14AM
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localeater

My son has kidney disease(blessedly now in remission-knock wood) and I researched this thoroughly before installing a water softener. After installation I even sent out my softened water for analysis. There is very little sodium in softened water. Drink as much as you want, you will be fine. If you were really concerned you could always soften with potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride. Of course then you might worry about potassium levels causing heart arrhythmia -lol.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 7:43AM
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Cavimum

When we had a water softener, ALL the tap water was softened, both hot and cold. We had a reverse osmosis system on the kitchen sink for drinking water, so this was never an issue for us.

You can bypass the WS for the cold taps, if you tell them to.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 9:18AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

We have a softener and switched from sodium to the potassium, but DH's potassium levels were getting high as he has poor kidney function. So we had a different kind of softener put in that precedes the potassium one and the amount of potassium going into the water has been cut back substantially.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 9:34AM
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GreenDesigns

The only thing that changes with a water softener is that you don't have as many water spots and there's no buildup of crud around your sink, toilets, and showers. The water is perfectly safe to consume, either hot or cold. A RO system is for those who don't like the taste of softened water, but it has it's own issues to present that will need to be solved if you choose to go that route.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 9:39AM
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beeps

Huh. Thanks for all the good information. Clearly I need to think more about this and do some further research before all the lines are put in. I am putting in both the soft water loop and reverse osmosis sleeve so can I guess I can do both or neither after the build. It sounds like consuming softened water is not nearly as harmful as I was led to believe. In general I don't like the taste of tap water (and have lived various places so it isn't just this house). Maybe RO is a good idea for me. Thanks again for the helpful info and things to think about.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 11:15AM
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chiefneil

I love my RO filter. Most of my out of town relatives who've come to visit have commented on how they like my water, not knowing it was filtered.

One small additional benefit with a softener + RO combination is that the RO membrane will last a bit longer than if you feed it "regular" water. My RO is plumbed to the fridge so it can feed the icemaker + water dispenser, and I have a separate spigot at my prep sink.

It sounds like you're already doing it, but you'll want to be sure that you run RO water through plastic tubing, not directly in copper pipes. The plastic tubing is normally run inside the copper pipe. Be aware that the RO filter removes fluoride, so if you have kids you might want to talk to your dentist about it. A fluoride toothpaste and fresh fruit should be plenty of fluoride, but talk to your dentist.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 12:06PM
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itsallaboutthefood

Sounds like softened water is safe to drink...but hot water from the tap is still a problem. See the following NY Times article.

Here is a link that might be useful: NY Times article on hot water from tap

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 1:30PM
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itsallaboutthefood

Another article..this one suggest using a water filtration system that has been certified by an independent testing organization to reduce or eliminate lead. Something to check into if you get a RO system.

Here is a link that might be useful: another article from the cdc

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 1:32PM
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lolauren

"A RO system is for those who don't like the taste of softened water"

This isn't the only reason. R/O systems remove or reduce a number of things from water that some of us don't want to be drinking... like nitrates.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 2:40PM
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Cavimum

The only reason we got the RO system I mentioned (above) is because we lived in a 1890-something house and the incoming water line was ancient galvanized pipes. (From whenever indoor plumbing was added to the house... we could still see the depression in the back corner of the yard from the outhouse)

We wanted to filter out the rust and other gunk, and it was long before the days of the Brita filter type pitchers. We did not put in RO in our current 1980-somethng house.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 5:38PM
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