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water softener and palatability

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  • water softener and palatability

    We have very hard water here and are thinking of adding a water softener. (we already have a whole house filtration system)

    We haven't decided on which one yet but Mr. JSwan asked a question I couldn't answer.

    Will the livestock dislike it?

    My philosophy is that any animal that licks its own but or drinks out of mud puddles will probably eat or drink anything. I figure they'll get used to it and that's that.

    But I've never provided treated water to my livestock I really don't know.
    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
    -Rudyard Kipling

  • #2
    I can't answer your question, but are you going to drink softened water? Is that considered a good idea today? It used to be thought that the sodium in softened water wasn't good for humans to drink. Maybe water softening has improved today.

    I can remember my grandparent's house (this was the 1940s) had softened water to the kitchen sink, the washing machine & the bathtub but un-softened water to the bathroom sink & the laundry sink so we always filled pitchers or glasses for drinking at one of the sinks where the water was not softened.

    My grandparents always had all the latest conveniences to make life easier. (My grandmother couldn't walk due to having polio in the epidemic of 1916 - I think it was 1916, anyway.) She complains in her diaries about so many relatives showing up on Sunday to take a bath (hot, soft water!! in the country, on a farm) that they ran out of hot water & she couldn't get her own bath that day.

    Anyway, if you need separate piping for your own drinking water (if that is still necessary, today), then why not extend that to where you get drinking water for the animals (outside hydrant or the barn or whatever).


    • #3
      I am no engineer (nor do I play one on TV)...
      As best I recall, when I had the line run for my hydrant it tied in from the house to the barn, but I don't think it ran through the water softener.

      So your animals in the barn won't be drinking "softened" water.
      As for your housepets - they can deal.
      Or you can supply them with Perrier
      *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
      Steppin' Out 1988-2004
      Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
      Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


      • Original Poster

        Thanks for the responses.

        I'm rather ignorant so bear with me - there appears to be several methods to choose from these days. Cost varies.

        For the ones that use potassium chloride, I'm reading different blurbs on whether or not it is problematic for people with high blood pressure. We had treated water when I lived in Belgium as a child but I don't recall if we drank it or not. I doubt it... but really don't remember.

        Mr. JSwan is leaning towards a reverse osmosis system anyway. cha ching. We'll see about that.

        Our water line splits and serves both the house and barns (good pressure good flow). I really don't care about treating the barn water except it might help extend the life of water heaters and be useful for woodworking projects he's got going on above the barn. May or may not be worth the effort. It's easy enough to not treat drinking water so we may play it safe and do it that way.

        Thanks for the suggestions and info. No Perrier for my guys - the only bubbly water they get is when I toss apples into their trough and they try and bite them and exhale at the same time.
        Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
        Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
        -Rudyard Kipling


        • #5
          EDITING because I was wrong. I checked and our barn water does NOT go through the softener. Sorry.
          Last edited by SCF01; Mar. 13, 2009, 12:47 PM.


          • #6
            I had a plumbing manifold installed in the basement that controls the type of water that goes to the barn -- my four choices are 1) raw (untreated/directly from the well), 2) treated to remove only "rust", 3) water that has gone through both the iron filter and water conditioner/softener, and 4) hot water.

            I usually have the water set on choice #3 -- water that has gone through both the iron filter and water conditioner because I've noticed that the horses consume more of the treated water than the untreated


            • #7
              very palatable I think, at least according to my horses' drinking habits

              Oups, something I never even thought of...
              Always been used to municipality water prior to moving here, so this question didn't even pass my mind.

              All year round, my boys get straight well-water, however in winter I drag buckets of warm water from the house to barn (coz DH doesn't want heated water buckets in barn -fire risk-). We have a water softener system with Culligan. The horses absolutely love this water. I always thought it was because it's warm, but perhaps it's the taste, one guy finishes an entire bucket in one go as soon as he's brought in from the field.
              They definetly drink more from the house softened water, then from the untreated well water in the field.
              I hope the softened water is safe, never crossed my mind this could be unsafe. We did have our water tested last year by a private company and nothing stood out at that time.

              We personally don't drink it and only drink bottled water, but that's just a habit, no other reasoning behind it.


              • #8
                I tried the magnetic ones. I have no idea if they worked or not, but the washing machine and hot water heater used to get crudded up every year and burst. They have not had a problem since I put the magnet strips on. Going on 3 years now. The water is still not much good when combined with soap, but it does taste a little better and does not leave white residue any more. I no longer have to rinse with vinegar. That might have nothing to do with the strips, but maybe it does?

                The magnetic strips were very cheap (and thus I figure are not working) and could be placed somewhere that does not lead to the barn's water. There is lots of research and testimonials out of Europe on how great they are, but I take that with a grain of salt.

                I bought 2 sets for $99 and my house is much longer then yours, so if they are working they can work for a long distance.


                • #9
                  I would not personally use any softener system with Potassium chloride, potassium pergomate, or other chemicals for livestock. We have a Culligan system and it is chemical-free, but in any event, it only treats the water in the house, not in the barn. FWIW, we rent our Culligan setup and have the top of the line system, including the water softener and Iron Clear (the whole thing comprises several tanks). The fee is $81 per month.
                  Roseknoll Sporthorses


                  • #10

                    Ahhhhh, well, that's me done using warm water from the house for my horses. I hope I haven't done any damage to them already.
                    Checked the bag down in the basement and it's sodium chloride....


                    • #11
                      We just replaced the softener in our house, which we estimated to be around 30 years old, maybe more. Newer softeners are metered, so they go on after you've used x number of gallons of water. Think about how many gallons of water you use for your barn... wouldn't that be prohibitively expensive to soften all of it? Especially if the main reason for softening the water in the first place is to protect the heating element in your water heater, and your pipes (I don't imagine the horses care how easily their soap and shampoo lather up). One thing I didn't realize about the softener until it died: in order to soften the water it goes through a cycle where it pours gallon after gallon of water into the floor drain in your basement. So you're softening all the water for your house and barn and the softener is running every couple days - not only is that a lot of salt and electricity, that's a lot of water running down your drain! I would imagine that if you were consciencious about draining the sediment from your barn hot water tank and checking the heating element regularly, the cost of replacing a small water heater heating element every couple years would be equal to or less than the cost of all that water, salt, and electricity to soften all that water.

                      As far as taste: I've never been able to tell the difference in taste between the hot and cold tap water in our house (hot taps are softened, cold taps aren't). Our dogs and cats drink whatever's in their dish.


                      • #12
                        [quote=JSwan;3929152]Thanks for the responses.

                        I'm rather ignorant so bear with me - there appears to be several methods to choose from these days. Cost varies.

                        For the ones that use potassium chloride, I'm reading different blurbs on whether or not it is problematic for people with high blood pressure. We had treated water when I lived in Belgium as a child but I don't recall if we drank it or not. I doubt it... but really don't remember. "

                        JSwan, after my elderly mother moved into her own house on my brother's farm, her chronically low blood pressure went through the roof in a matter of months. First the cardiologist put her on blood pressure medication, and then a few months later, he thought to ask about the water softening agent my brother uses on the farm, which contained potassium. They changed over to a different water softener, and between that and the medication, her blood pressure dropped down to where it is supposed to be. The farm water is on the same line as the house water, and the livestock has been fine.
                        "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein



                        • #13
                          My horses don't care which water they drink! Be advised that most Reverse Osmosis systems use a heck of a lot of water, some as much as 20 gallons to produce one RO gallon. Most people I know aren't blessed with unending well water, so they RO just the drinking water in the house, soften the whole house water and, geez, the horses have to drink untreated well water! Salt has gotten pretty pricey lately, too. I haven't noticed any of our herd of 14 or so turn their noses up--mine drink from a creek when it is available, seem to preferr it over the well water.


                          • Original Poster

                            Wow - all these responses have been much more helpful than what's out there on the Internet.

                            Not overly concerned about the barn - just that the house line splits off to the outbuildings in an area that doesn't have enough room for appliances. We do have a whole house filter in the well line that does a good job trapping sediments. As long as there are no reported problems in livestock I'm happy.

                            We're on a well and I'm stingy with water use so that is a very good point, as are the concerns about blood pressure.

                            We don't have a problem with iron - just calcium. Even the humidifier clogs up within a couple of days. I have to chip buildup off - lime remover isn't enough. Hey.... does this mean I won't develop a dowager's hump?

                            Thank you very much for the responses and information, it is greatly appreciated.
                            Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                            Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                            -Rudyard Kipling


                            • #15
                              Our kitchen cold and outside taps and the fridge water are all unsoftened, the rest is softened with a salt-based system. Works for us. I don't want to drink it regularly, and I'm certainly not wasting it on the animals!

                              Everything is at least double filtered from the well because of suspended iron particles and other such things.


                              • #16
                                We are on city water and it seems softer than any water I've had before. The washer
                                takes about 1/5 the amount of soap recommended on the container or else it's suds everywhere and it takes quite a while to rinse the shampoo out of the hair. Don't know whether they treat it or not before coming to us. The barn is on the same water.


                                • #17
                                  when we moved into the house it had a water softerner so I asked my doctor and he was concerned about high salt content because its hard on your kidneysand may cause possible kidney stones. I only have one kidney.
                                  More importantly my hair looked awful, the water made my hair so soft it looked terrible which of course is just as important as my health. In many new houses the kitchen sinks are not hooked to the water softner.
                                  My water is very hard and I had water testing done, showed the results to my toxicologist brother who said all those minerals are good for you and hence for the horses.
                                  What I do now is run the softerner a few days a month to clean the pipes and appliances then turn it off. I fill water tanks before using the softner because the horses hate any change in the water. So far its a PITA but the system is working and my hair looks good!