The Hidden Risks of Soft Water on Plants
If the area where you live has hard water, you’ve realized that it makes dishes dull, corrodes plumbing and leaves clean clothes looking dirty.
These issues make it logical to install a water softener. However, there some problems caused by softened water that might make you reconsider your decision of using softened water for your plants.
How does soft water differ from hard water?
Hard water has a higher concentration of calcium and magnesium. The high mineral content makes soap ineffective when washing and leaves a layer of scum on the water surface.
The process of softening water involves removing magnesium and calcium from the water through the exchange of ions with those of potassium or sodium.
These ions do not corrode your water appliances as calcium and magnesium do. The table salt you use in the kitchen is a sodium salt.
Problems caused by softened water
Softened water poisons the soil
Wastewater generated from your household chores is transported through sewerage systems to treatment plants. Once treated, the water is released for agricultural purposes in the nearby irrigation schemes and parks.
When plants are watered with softened water, highly concentrated with salt, it loses other nutrient compounds rapidly, and they’re replaced by salt. With time, the soil is poisoned and can’t be used to grow plants, as it doesn’t have the necessary nutrients.
Soft water is toxic to plants
Rather than replenishing water supplies for the plants, the salts tend to suck all the water that is available to the plants making them die of thirst.
The problem is an issue in areas that don’t receive much rainfall. There’s not enough water to send the salts deep into the soil where it can be diluted.
High salt concentration in the soil causes them to become hard and compacted and swell distorting its structure. Furthermore, it decreases the oxygen levels in the soil further stifling the plants and causing them to die.
You can tell that your plants are suffering from salt stress by the presence of yellow spots and salt rings. These signs might not be present in grass because you cut it. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that the grass is not affected by the condition.
You’ll use more water to combat the toxins
The soil that has been compacted by the salt requires more water to absorb enough. Much of the water is lost through the runoff. In addition, you’ll need more water to leach the salts deep down in the soil to save your plants.
Limit your water softener to your hot water line only. Use hard water in your garden for better results.
If you would like to know more about the hidden risks of softened water on plants contact us.