What about hard water?
Our aquifer provides hard water, with dissolved components including calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese. Calcium carbonate, the standard for measuring hardness, occurs in a wide range in our system, so it’s useful to check information about the well or wells serving your address to get that number. It can be helpful to soften hot water for general household uses and to limit mineral deposits that shorten water heater life. But the chloride ions from water softener salt can’t be broken down by the wastewater treatment process, and are discharged directly to surface waters, so it’s a good idea to balance that concern with the benefits of water softening.
Minerals contribute taste and "feel" to drinking water.
Readily available carbon filtration, used for carafe filters and faucet-mount filters, removes a component of hardness, described as "temporary hardness." This filtration can be helpful for preventing mineral buildup in a teakettle, coffee maker, or other use where hard water evaporates and leaves behind a mineral film. Such filters also remove chlorine.
Plain vinegar, in solution with water or full strength, does an excellent job of dissolving mineral deposits left behind by evaporated or boiled hard water.