I have heard this question in various forms since I first became involved in the field of Water treatment back in 1980 only then it was simply why do I need a water softener or purifier, because we had never heard of eco-friendly living or green homes. I have worked in almost every aspect of the water business. I started in sales, went to sales management then as owner for 15 years before selling my business in 1998. During that time I serviced, installed, designed & sold systems. I trained salespeople, installers, service people, etc. I grew what became one of the largest water treatment companies in Illinois. I was a WQA Certified Water Specialist since 1985 and maintained that Certification until selling my business in 1998.
After selling my water company I became involved in the field I originally went to school for; construction management. It is currently the field I am still involved in and I have wore many hats in this field as well; IL State licensed lead abatement supervisor, Project Manager, and the Owner of a Rehab Company, Building Products Company, and a Custom & Spec Home Building Company. I am currently a consultant to the Green Building Industry and I am in the process of obtaining LEED accreditation.
One thing I have realized is that while I really enjoy the building industry and will always be involved in it on one level or another I have really missed the water business. I also have come to realize just how important a good, honest and ethical water treatment company has become.
Purified and Softened Water is a very important part of the green building industry and with that comes more and more people selling the latest gizmo with little regard for anything but how much money they can put in their pocket. Now don’t get me wrong most water treatment companies these days are very reputable, but there are always some that aren’t that have more concern for profit than what is most important; the customer.
Now I believe everybody pretty much gets out of life what they expect and I always expected I would be back in the water business in some form or another. Well I have now come full circle, back to the industry I started in at the age of 20 years old, but now in a more diversified capacity. I now work in an area where water treatment is a part of the whole, although a very important part. Now it has almost been 30 years since I first started that career and 12 years since I sold the business, but I believe the timing couldn’t be better. Life is funny like that; it has a tendency to work things out for you if you will let it.
Now why is Water Treatment so important?
The reason that the green building industry and eco friendly products have become the fastest growing segment of the building & home improvement industry,(as a matter of fact it is the only segment that has actually shown growth in the past few years), is because of an ever growing concern over health, and the conservation energy & natural resources. This is not a FAD it, is a new paradigm and it is here to stay and will continue to grow into the future. Water treatment and conservation is a huge part of this.
Most people have just not been properly educated in the importance of soft & purified water.
30 years ago when I started in the water industry, air or water pollution was of little concern to most people, that was because even though it was a growing problem, we did not see the effects at that time and we wouldn’t for several years. We are now seeing effects from the things we did years ago and the Green Movement is a result of this. I have actually been active in the green movement before it even had a name.
Fast forward to today and it is no longer a question of whether or not it is a problem, but a question of what can I do about it and how does water treatment help with saving energy, conservation of natural resources or my health?
The first reason water is so important is simply that its supply is limited, it is impossible to make water. We have the same water now that was on this earth thousands of years ago. We simply reuse it over and over. Mother nature had a pretty good way of keeping it clean through a natural cleaning process called the hydro-cycle, as a matter of fact one of the earliest forms of purifying water was modeled after mother nature, it is distillation, which is still used today. Over the years by the addition of chemicals into the environment we have actually threatened one of resources we depend on to sustain life. Water is the universal solvent it cannot be made and it cannot be destroyed, but it can be contaminated. The amount of contamination is so significant in many areas that the only way we would have enough clean water for everyone is by using various treatment methods to make it potable. Some areas of the country are not as prone to man made contamination as others because the water comes from wells hundreds of feet deep, but they usually come with another set of problems, including calcium and iron, while not necessarily harmful health wise, aesthetically it can be very hard to use without some form of softening or treatment. Do not think that just because a well comes from hundreds of feet down it cannot be contaminated, I have seen many wells that are contaminated. you simply do not know, who or what may have contaminated the aquafier that the well tapped into. Many hundreds or even thousands of wells may be on the same aquafier and all it takes is one well to have something dumped into it to contaminate possibly thousands. It has happened, and many times you would never know because many chemicals are tasteless and odorless.
While water treatment is certainly not the only aspect of a healthy, energy efficient home it is a very important part that can usually be solved for no more money than is already being spent in the average household already.
According the Green Building Industry the 3 main components of a green home are:
- Energy Efficiency
- Preservation of Natural Resources
- Air & Water Quality
Now while it takes all of the above to be considered a green home, your home is only as healthy as the air and water quality in it.
Let’s start with water.
Next to the air we breathe, and that’s a major concern that we will address another time, water is the most important thing to your health for more reasons than you may realize.
The most obvious is the water you drink; I never thought I would see the day when bottled water would rival soft drinks in cost or consumption, but it actually has surpassed them . While the quality of some of the water being sold in bottles is questionable, the biggest problem has turned out to be the waste created from multiple millions of plastic bottles that do not decompose in the environment. This has become such a serious problem some states are considering banning them.
A much better solution is to make your own bottled water, you could buy the most sophisticated drinking water purifier on the market for what you spend in a couple of years on bottles and have a much higher quality of water as well. I would be willing to bet that most of you would be shocked if you added up what you actually spend in the course of a year on bottled water. So for the same amount we are spending on bottled water in just a couple of years you would have better quality water and help eliminate waste and natural resources that are used in the manufacture of plastic bottles. We also would eliminate another risk which comes from the bottles themselves as many leach BPA or other impurities into the water.
This pretty much defeats the purpose of buying bottled water doesn’t it?
There is no good environmental or economical reason to use bottled water with the affordable technology we have today to produce our own.
Now let’s talk about something that experts in the water quality field have been talking about for years. It is without a doubt the most overlooked way you come into contact with impurities or unwanted chemicals (including chlorine) from your water supply. It is the water you bath and shower in. Your skin is your body’s largest organ and it absorbs whatever it comes into contact with, so whatever may be in your water will absorb into your skin with long enough and repeated exposure . If you shower or bath every day, that adds up to considerable exposure. This is still not as bad as inhaling the steam from a shower, which concentrates various chemicals that could be in your water and should be safeguarded against if possible. There are many inexpensive shower filters available on the market today that will take care of this but a whole house system is still more efficient.
The other problem you will have if your water is hard (and the majority of the country is considered hard-anything over 10.5 gpg is considered very hard-the lake area averages 21 gpg) is the fact that hard water plugs the pores of your skin and when mixed with soap forms a film that stays on your skin. This is the biggest reason for dry and irritated skin. Now I can hear some of you already, many of you will find this hard to believe or doubt it entirely; I understand because I used to think the same thing. Some of you will say that you don’t like soft water because you can’t get the soap off and it feels slick (some even say slimy). Sorry, but the opposite is true, that slick feeling is your pores opening and your body’s natural oils lubricating your skin like it is supposed to. This was the biggest selling point for me almost 30 years ago, and it is fact not theory, and in my 18 years as a water professional I have never failed to be able to prove this fact to anyone, with a simple test. I always had dry, irritated skin when I was a kid growing up and had to have many prescribed medicated lotions. I was almost immediately relieved of any skin problems and haven’t had a problem since I began using softened water. Many people, like me, can eliminate lotions of any kind, another big savings, when you allow the body to naturally soften the skin. I would never be without a softener again for this reason alone, even though there are many other benefits to having soft water.
If you look at the ingredients in body soaps, detergents and cleaners and if you will research what they are, you will find that almost 80% of the active ingredient in any type of traditional cleaner is to soften the water so the water itself will work better at cleaning. The cleaner and purer the water the more aggressive it becomes and therefore better at cleaning. So one way or another you have to soften your water or it wouldn’t clean anything very well.
There are two methods to soften your water; one by addition chemically and the other is by subtraction mechanically with the use of a water softener. Which do you suppose is the safest and most eco-friendly?
The addition or chemical method is not environmental friendly, it also further helps to irritate our skin, because just as the soap film doesn’t come off your skin, it will not come off of your clothes or towels entirely either. And these chemicals are much harsher than soap made for your skin. No wonder we have skin problems. This is also why clothes washed in soft water last much longer than clothes washed in hard water, another eco friendly benefit.
If this were not true or you have doubts, ask yourself why we have a so called gentle detergent for babies (Dreft, etc), if all the soap came out it wouldn’t matter now would it?
So why do we even use harsh chemicals for cleaners? It is because pure cleaners will not work very well with even slightly hard water and not all with hard water. And keep in mind the harsh chemicals are not to clean the clothes, etc. they are to clean the water.
Chemicals (traditional cleaners) are also very expensive, pure cleaners are not and it takes less than half the amount with soft water. So the amount you can save on cleaners alone will usually more than pay for a water softener.
There are really many more I could list, but one of the major ones is savings of the energy required to heat water, soft water requires approximately 30% less energy to heat water and this can also add up to a significant amount since the water heater is the 2nd largest energy user in most homes. The savings on the maintenance of all water using appliances can also be a large amount, this is mainly due to the elimination of scale build up. Foods and beverages made in soft water are more flavorful. Cleaning is much easier with soft water, due to the elimination of soap film and hard water buildup. You will find many other advantages as well and if you are like most once you get used to the soft water and its many benefits you will never be without it again.
Now if you could have soft quality water like this and it didn’t cost a dime more than you are spending right now, what would be the reason for not having it?
Water purified for drinking at the point of use and water softened at the point of entry is one of the most eco friendly systems you can have in your home.
Water treatment and water conservation will always be a major component of an eco-friendly home.
Call the Lake Eco Group and let us show you how to install a system in your home for less than you are spending now! We are confident we can provide you with quality water at a savings and we will even leave you a generous sample of eco friendly cleaners for your time.
by David Braddy