Yes, you can use softened water in your humidifier. Softened water is humidifier-friendly and an appropriate option for all humidifiers. Softened water does not contain minerals that can ruin your humidifier and using soft water can significantly reduce the rate of mineral build-up in your humidifier. If you are wondering if you should use softened water in your humidifier, then the answer is yes.
Some of the things that you should consider when planning to use softened water in your humidifier include the quality of the soft water, the level of salts in the soft water, the softening agents used, and the additional costs of softening hard water if you plan to soften the water yourself.
Using soft water in your humidifier can significantly reduce the accumulation of mineral deposits in your humidifier. You should ensure that the softened water that you use in your home is clean.
Continue reading to learn more about the composition of soft water, the differences between soft and softened water, whether you can use softened water in your home, and the different methods of softening hard water that exists.
This post addresses:
- What is softened water?
- Difference between soft and softened water
- Can I use softened water in my humidifier?
- How do you soften water for a humidifier at home?
What is Softened Water?
Softened water is water that has been processed either through boiling or the use of water softeners.
You can soften any type of water in the house long as the water is hard or contains a certain level of minerals that qualify it as hard water.
Difference Between Soft and Softened Water
Soft and softened water can be differentiated based on the content of the water. Water can be naturally soft based on its source. Softened water is water that has undergone processing to transform it from hard water to soft water.
Rainwater is naturally soft. If you collect rainwater before it hits the ground, the water collected would be soft. On the other hand, if the rainwater is collected after it has been on the ground for some time, it will have mineral deposits because of its contact with minerals that naturally occur on the ground.
Rainwater becomes hard water as it makes its way through the ground and into existing water bodies or mixes with groundwater.
Softened water can be water collected from water bodies, taps, or other sources of water and softened using a water softening or water treatment plant that has been designed to remove the excess minerals from water.
Can I Use Softened Water in My Humidifier?
Yes, you can use softened water in your humidifier. The tap water in most homes is moderately hard, meaning that it has approximately 61 to 120 mg/l of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. Soft water naturally has less than 61 mg/l of calcium or magnesium carbonate.
Softened water is a great option for humidifiers. Aside from distilled water, softened water is the best second option for humidifiers and other electrical devices like vaporizers.
Softened water is a great option for humidifiers because most of the calcium and magnesium-based minerals in the water that can damage your humidifier are not present in softened water.
Unlike soft water, softened water relies on water-softening technologies to reduce the level of calcium and magnesium minerals in the water. These minerals are usually replaced with sodium and potassium through an ion-replacement chemical reaction that relies on the position of different minerals on the reactivity series.
Sodium and potassium are two of the most reactive minerals in the metals reactivity series and are usually racked as the first two elements on a metal reactivity series. Their position means that they can easily replace other metals like magnesium, aluminum, zinc, and iron in a chemical reaction.
Since sodium and potassium are highly reactive, their salts are usually used in manufacturing water-softening tablets. Using sodium and potassium-based salts in softening water promotes the replacement of the calcium and magnesium minerals with sodium or potassium.
After softening the water and sieving or filtering it, the water can then be used in a humidifier as softened water.
The calcium and magnesium mineral deposits associated with using hard water usually affect the longevity of the humidifier and the performance of the heating element in the humidifier.
Using softened water in your humidifier will significantly increase the shelf life of your product and reduce the need for constant maintenance. Continued use of hard water will damage your humidifier.
Using softened water in your humidifier will also allow you to reduce the costs associated with investing in a water distiller or buying distilled water each time you wish to use your humidifier. Distilled water can be quite expensive, especially if you use your humidifier for longer hours.
To reduce the costs associated with running your humidifier at home, you can use softened water instead of distilled water. The great thing about softened water is that water-softening tablets are much cheaper and you have the option of using rainwater during rainy seasons.
If you plan to soften your tap water, you should consider getting a water hardness test kit that you can use to identify the level of water hardness in your home.
This will help you determine which water-softening product you should buy or the number of water-softening tablets that you should use to soften about one liter of water.
Measuring the level of water hardness in the home might not be easy because of the extensive procedure that one requires to assess water hardness.
Ideally, water hardness is measured using a titration procedure that entails adding an indicator to the water sample in small increments until the sample changes color. The approach is commonly referred to as colometric titration because it relies on color changes.
Aside from that water hardness kits also exist that can be used to assess the level of minerals in the water. You can get a water hardness kit from retail stores, Amazon or other online stores that deal with the assessment and management of water quality.
How Do You Soften Water For a Humidifier At Home?
If you plan to use the boiling procedure to soften your water, you should first ensure that you understand the difference between temporary and permanent water hardness.
While temporary water hardness can be removed through boiling, permanent water hardness cannot be softened through boiling and often requires the use of advanced techniques to soften the water.
Most of the tap water that is distributed in our homes contains minerals associated with temporary hardness. When softening water using the boiling method you should follow the following procedure:
- Pour the amount of water that you want to soften into a cooking pot or pan or boiler.
- Allow the water to boil until it reaches its boiling point then leave the water to cool down
- Sieve the water to remove any precipitates or dirt particles that might have accumulated in the water
- Alternatively, you can scoop out the precipitate or scum floating on the water and then sieve the water to ensure that you have removed any other dirt that might have settled at the bottom of the pan
- Your water is ready for use
Note: If the water source you are using has not been tested to determine the type of water hardness that you are dealing with, it is recommended to test the water to ensure that you apply the right water-softening techniques when softening the water.
Whole House Water Softener
If you live in a place with hard water, you might want to consider installing a full-house water softener that you can use for different purposes.
A full-house water softener eliminates the need for investing in different water-softening appliances for different devices or purposes in your home.
For instance, if you invest in a whole-house water softener, you will not need a different device for your drinking water and you can easily access the water from the faucets in your home. This system features whole-house water filtration through an ion exchange process.
A whole house works by passing the hard water that enters your water distribution channel through a bed of plastic resin beads that have been charged with sodium ions. The resin beads have a negative charge while the calcium and magnesium minerals present in hard water have positive charges.
As the water is passed through the resin beads, the positive charges of the calcium and magnesium minerals are attracted to the resin beads and held in position as the water continues to pass.
The sodium ion is then released into the water and the water that passes out of the tank is softened water. The resin bead strip the water of all the minerals linked to water hardness meaning that you will end up with soft water.
If you live in a place like Florida where most of the water in circulation is hard water, then a water softener is an essential component of your home.
Averagely whole-house water softeners cost between $600 and $1500 and with minimum maintenance, the resins in your water softener can last for ten to twenty years, making it a worthy investment.
If you have some plumbing skills, you can easily install a water softener by yourself. If you are not confident with your DIY skills, you can opt to follow the manufacturer’s instructions during the installation process or opt to call a professional plumber to help you install the whole-house water softener.
Water Softening Tablets
Water softening tablets offer you an easy solution for softening the hard water in your home. Unlike whole-house humidifiers, water softening tablets can be used to soften water for specific purposes such as humidifying purposes.
When using water-softening tablets, you will need to soften the water shortly before using it. Using water-softening tablets for whole-house purposes can be a tiring process because you will need to constantly add the tablets to any water that you use.
Components of Water Softening Tablets
These tablets usually contain sodium or potassium ions. Water softening tablets work like whole-house water softeners. The key difference is that water softening tablets are used to soften low levels of water when compared to whole-house water softeners.
Water-softening tablets work through an ion exchange process. Since they have sodium or potassium ions, the ions in the tablets replace the calcium and magnesium minerals in the hard water.
The sodium and potassium in water softeners are in the form of chloride ions. As such, you can either buy sodium chloride or potassium chloride water softeners.
Potassium chloride water softeners are recommended for people who are suffering from kidney or other renal issues. In most cases, individuals with renal issues are required to take low levels of sodium in their meals or drinks.
If you are concerned about inhaling the sodium ions that will be dispersed in the air due to underlying health conditions, you should consider using a potassium-based water softener tablet.
Alternatively, you could also consider salt-free water softeners as they do not contain sodium or potassium and rely on different techniques such as crystallization of the calcium and magnesium minerals found in hard water.
Water-softening tablets work with all types of portable humidifiers. It might be tricky to use these tablets in whole-house humidifiers because of the large amount of water directed into the whole-house humidifier and the overall structure of the whole-house humidifier.
Most water-softening tablets also contain antibacterial properties, which means that they give you the additional benefit of killing any microbes in your water.
When using most water-softening tablets, you only need to add one tablet to the water reservoir of your humidifier and then you are good to go for about a week as long as you keep refilling the water in the tank and do not rinse out the tablet from the water reservoir.
You can and should consider using softened water in your humidifier. After distilled water, softened water is the second-best water option for humidifiers and other electrical appliances like vaporizers.
If you cannot access store-bought soft water, you could make soft water at home using the methods discussed above. Remember that it is important to understand the quality of your water before considering the water softening methods.
During rainy seasons, you could also consider using rainwater in your humidifier. Unlike tap water, when using rainwater, you will only need to filter the water after collection. If you plan to use rainwater, ensure that you collect the water in a clean container.
Avoid collecting the water through roof gutters because the material used in making the roofing material might have some mineral components associated with water hardness.
I hope that this article has answered some of the questions that you had regarding using softened water in your humidifier and water softening options.
Check out the FAQ section below for common questions associated with using humidifiers at home and the type of water that you should use in your humidifier.
What Kind of Water is Best to Use in Humidifier?
The best kind of water for your humidifier is distilled and soft or softened water. These two types of water have the lowest calcium and magnesium content.
These minerals are responsible for reducing the shelf life of the components in your humidifier. As such, opting to use distilled or soft water is a wise decision when it comes to protecting the performance of your humidifier.
When it comes down to distilled or soft water, distilled water is the best water for humidifiers. Distilled water has been treated to remove the minerals associated with water hardness, bacteria, viruses and other microbes, and does not contain dirt. Distilled water is essentially steam collected after boiling water.
The steaming process and collection of the vaporized water leave behind all forms of contaminants that could affect the quality of the water. This makes distilled water, the cleanest water and the best option for humidifiers.
What Happens If you Don’t Use Distilled Water in a Humidifier?
If you don’t use distilled water in a humidifier or softened water, then you are likely to notice mineral deposits in the form of chalky white deposits at the bottom of your humidifier after a few months or years of usage.
Distilled water does not contain the minerals associated with this form of damage, which is why it is the most recommended water for humidifiers.
Is Softened Water the Same as Distilled Water?
Softened water is not the same as distilled water. While softened water might have some dirt or contaminants depending on the method of water softening used, distilled water does not contain any contaminants.
Do I Have to Use Distilled Water in My Humidifier?
You do not necessarily have to use distilled water in your humidifier especially if you cannot afford to buy or make distilled water in your home.
While distilled water is a great option and the most recommended type of water for a humidifier, you could opt for soft water, which might be a much cheaper and more available option for you.
Can I Use Homemade Water Softener For Humidifier?
If you trust your chemistry skills in making a homemade water softener, then there is nothing preventing you from using a homemade water softener in your humidifier.
However, if you are not sure about the effectiveness of the homemade water softener, it might be much safer to buy water softeners from a trusted source.
Remember that using products that have not been tested or proven to be effective in your humidifier could damage the humidifier.
Aside from that, if you are not sure if the homemade water softener is safe, it might place your health at risk because the components of the homemade water softener will be released into the air within your home.
Can You Use Bottled water in Humidifier?
You can use bottled water in a humidifier if the bottled water is distilled water or purified water. If bottled water is mineral water, then it might have some levels of calcium and magnesium or other minerals associated with water hardness. It is important to check the type or quality of the water before using it in your humidifier.
Reading the label on the water bottle could give you a hint regarding the components of the water and its suitability for humidifier use.
Can I Use Brita Water in My Humidifier?
Brita filtered water is not a good option for humidifiers. Brita filtered water is not distilled or softened water. Brita water undergoes a filtration process to remove contaminants like sediments, bacteria, protozoa, and other waterborne contaminants that might be associated with waterborne illnesses.
Since Brita water is filtered water, it contains some calcium and magnesium minerals, meaning that it has a certain level of water hardness. Using filtered water in your humidifier will not prevent your humidifier from being damaged by mineral deposits.
How to Soften Hard Water for Humidifier?
You can soften hard water for a humidifier using water-softening tablets, boiling techniques, and reverse osmosis.
There are several ways for softening hard water for humidifiers that differ based on cost and ease of use. While boiling is the cheapest technique, it might be tiring if you want to soften all the water coming into your home.
As such, when considering water-softening options for a humidifier, you should consider the size of the humidifier. If you have a portable humidifier you can use water-softening tablets comfortably.
On the other hand, if you are using a whole-house humidifier and wish to use soft water for other purposes in your home, then a whole-house water softening system would be the right option for you.
Can Spring Water be Used in Place of Distilled Water?
No. You should not use spring water in place of distilled water, especially if you are planning to use the water in a humidifier. Spring water is essentially water from natural springs. Unlike tap water, spring water is water that has not been tampered with by human activities.
Since spring water is found on the ground, it is not the right type of water to use in a humidifier because groundwater makes contact with limestone and other naturally occurring minerals that contribute to water hardness.
Unless you plan to use a water softening technique or tablet, spring water should not be used in place of distilled water.