Many homeowners use water softeners to treat tap water. It's important to know if water softening can provide any nutritional chemical problems before cooking with it.
Water is softened by being drawn into a salt water tank called the brine tank, where the calcium, magnesium and potassium molecules are replaced with sodium molecules. Water is then siphoned to another tank, called the filter tank, which filters any residual particles from the water before allowing it into the home's water system.
Vegetables cooked in softened water do tend to have slightly less nutritional value. Calcium levels are somewhat lower in vegetables cooked in softened water than in those cooked in hard water.
Breads and baked goods are best when made with a moderately soft water. Hard water can inhibit growth of yeasts and rising agents, and softened water can prevent flour gluten from forming, creating a crumbly texture.
Very hard water can contain over 150 milligrams per liter of water due to the replacement of minerals in the water. Softened water is generally safe to drink and cook with, but should be avoided by people who have sodium sensitivity.
Hard water testing kits can be performed by a professional or by a homeowner. Testing kits can cost around $5 to $15.
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