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What Is an RV Water Softener and Do You Need One?

Too many RVers learn the hard way that water quality varies greatly from campground to campground. That’s why an RV water filter is a must-have addition to your campsite setup. But there’s more you can do to protect your RV, like installing an RV water softener. So what are RV water softeners, and do you need one?

Understanding Soft Water versus Hard Water

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To understand the importance of an RV water softener, we must explain what makes water soft or hard, which is determined by the mineral content of magnesium and calcium.

Soft water has lower calcium and magnesium levels, making it less damaging for your body and your RV’s water systems. According to WebMD, soft water contains fewer than 17 parts per million of calcium and magnesium.

Hard water is broken down according to the following mineral levels:

  • Slightly hard water = 17 to 60 parts per million
  • Moderately hard water = 60 to 120 parts per million
  • Hard water = 120 to 180 parts per million
  • Very hard water = More than 180 parts per million

Short of using testing strips to test the water at each campground you visit, here are some common signs of hard water:

  • A slippery feeling after washing hands or rinsing dishes.
  • Spots appear on washed glasses or silverware.
  • Mineral stains on clothing if your RV has a built-in washer and dryer or uses a portable washing machine.
  • Reduced water pressure due to mineral deposits in your RV water heater or faucets.

What is an RV Water Softener?

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RV water softeners utilize common table salt to reduce calcium and magnesium levels in a campground’s water supply. Water softens through ion exchange; magnesium and calcium ions are replaced by sodium ions, resulting in softer water. 

An RV water softener uses standard hose connections for a quick and easy installation between the water supply and your RV’s city water inlet. Water flows through an external tank where that ion exchange occurs, and softer water is delivered to your RV’s water system.

The best versions work with a water pressure regulator while delivering a high flow rate and minimal pressure decrease. Some also include test strips to test water softness and quality to determine how much salt is needed at each new location you visit. 

Do You Need an RV Water Softener?

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Studies suggest that most of the US water supply would classify as “hard water.” So more often than not, you’ll be able to take advantage of the benefits of a water softener when traveling in your motorhome or travel trailer.

Installing an RV water softener protects the health of your RV’s water system and has other important benefits, including:

  • Preventing mineral buildup. A water softener removes harsh chemicals before they can cause sediment accumulations in your RV’s water heater, faucets, or water filtration system.  
  • Increasing soap effectiveness. A higher mineral concentration in water actually causes you to use more soap to create a lather. So whether you’re washing hands, doing dishes, or showering, a water softener allows you to use less soap.
  • Reducing skin dryness. Hard water dries out your skin, especially in cold and dry climates. Soft water helps you keep your skin softer and your hair silkier.

Water is a finite commodity when RV camping. Utilizing a water softener dramatically reduces the amount of water you’ll use for dishes, handwashing, and showering. The holding tanks will take longer to fill up as well.

The bottom line: An RV water softener protects your RV’s water heater and faucets, minimizes water usage, and ensures the health of your RV’s inhabitants.

What is the Best RV Water Softener?

Of the many RV water softeners out there, these are a few of our favorites:

On The Go Portable Double Standard Water Softener & Conditioner

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Our favorite RV water softener is the On The Go Portable Double Standard Water Softener & Conditioner. Here are the unit’s basic specifications: 

  • Dimensions: 22” tall by 9.5” in diameter
  • Weight: 32.6 pounds

This water softener can deliver up to 40% softer water and is built with a large-mount opening for the mess-free addition of the included table salt. It regenerates with two boxes of salt in less than 30 minutes and then delivers up to 1,600 gallons (or up to 40 days) of softened water before requiring another regeneration.

The On The Go softener also has a high-pressure, 4-foot water hose to connect the water supply. The outlet then connects to your standard potable drinking water hose.

It also includes an optional cap and a plug to prevent leakage in transit and a back-flush adapter that allows for a seamless reverse connection when needed. There’s also a rope handle over the top that makes it much easier to carry than having to pick it up with two hands.  

On The Go Portable Standard Water Softener & Conditioner

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For those looking for a more compact water-softening solution, On The Go also makes a smaller version of their standard softener and conditioner. Here are its basic specs: 

  • Dimensions: 22” tall by 7.75” in diameter
  • Weight: 16.9 pounds

It includes all the additional water-softening accessories as the double standard version. Because of the tank’s smaller size, it regenerates in roughly 15 minutes using one box of common table salt and can then deliver soft water for up to 20 days.

Camco TastePURE Portable Water Softener

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Camco’s TastePure Portable Water Softener is another excellent option for those that don’t mind the larger tank size of the On The Go Double Standard model. Here are its size specs: 

  • Dimensions: 20.5” tall by 8.5” in diameter
  • Weight: 25.1 pounds

This water softener delivers a flow rate of up to four gallons per minute and softens water using the same principle of ion exchange used in the On The Go models. It has 50 water testing strips, a 4-foot water hose, and a male-to-male fitting for easy installation and regeneration.

Explore Camping World’s complete selection of RV water softeners.

Protecting your RV’s water system is vital to your health and the health of your RV. Here are a few more resources to help you keep your water fresh and your system working at optimal efficiency:

  • How to Hook Up Power and Water to Your RV
  • Why You Need an RV Water Pressure Regulator
  • How to Sanitize Your RV Fresh Water Tank

What experience do you have with RV water softeners? Let us know in the comments below.

The post What Is an RV Water Softener and Do You Need One? appeared first on Camping World Blog.

By: Tucker Ballister
Title: What Is an RV Water Softener and Do You Need One?
Sourced From: blog.campingworld.com/gear-and-accessories/what-is-an-rv-water-softener/
Published Date: Fri, 02 Jun 2023 09:00:00 +0000