When water travels throughout the ground it tends to collect minerals that cause our water to be hard, such as calcium and magnesium. Because these minerals cause your water to be hard, it causes the soap that you are using to be less effective. It causes the soap to create clumps and not dissolve properly. While having hard water may not seem like a huge plumbing problem it is can cause little problems such as, the water leaving a filmy substance on your shower walls, your skin to become dry, and leaving dry hard water spots on your cleaning dishes.
Soft water systems get rid of those unwanted minerals causing hard water. The main purpose of soft water systems is to take and replace the calcium and magnesium and replace it with sodium. Soft water systems have a mineral tank that is filled with polystyrene beads. When the hard water passes through this tank, the beads attract the calcium and magnesium and are replaced with sodium, thus turning your hard water into soft water.
Having hard water is not a problem to your health, unless you are are a sodium-restricted diet. If you are unsure if you have hard water, companies that sell soft water systems sell test kits that allow you to test the hardness of your water. The hardness of water is measured in grains per gallon. Water up to 1 GPG is considered to be soft and water that is measured at 60 to 120 GPG is considered to be mildly hard. The effectiveness of soft water systems depends mainly on how hard the water is that is passing through the system.
For people that do not like the taste of salt in their water, they can choose to use potassium chloride, however this can cost a person anywhere from three to four times more than soft water systems that use sodium.