How Does a Water Softener Work


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In the event you’ve been coping with cleaning soap scum buildup or mineral crust in your bathe heads, you will have seemingly discovered you will have exhausting water and must deal with it with a water softener for lengthy lasting outcomes — however what’s a water softener, and the way does a water softener work?

For these unfamiliar with the way to deal with exhausting water, having a water softener put in could seem daunting and costly. Nevertheless, the excellent news is that usually, water softeners can simply be added to your current plumbing — and sometimes at a lower cost than owners might understand. Although there are a variety of various kinds and types of water softeners, a typical water softener is an equipment that includes storage for salt and a media tank that softens the water (most kinds are smaller than a fridge). Earlier than we dig into how a water softener works, let’s evaluation what’s it that makes water our “exhausting.”

Exhausting Water vs. Comfortable Water

No matter whether or not your house’s water comes from a personal nicely or it’s piped to your house out of your native municipality, there’s extra in your house’s water than simply H2O. Each sources are recognized to include hardness minerals, which is what makes some water “more durable” than others. Calcium and magnesium are the most typical minerals present in water. Sometimes, minerals get there as a result of groundwater will dissolve rock like limestone, or metals, like iron, and the remnants journey with the water.

It is not uncommon for individuals on personal wells to have “more durable” water than public water as a municipality’s remedy course of can inadvertently get rid of among the hardness minerals as a part of their regular filtration and remedy course of. With that stated, almost 90% of houses throughout america may have exhausting water, and most municipalities don’t deal with water for hardness.

The minerals that create exhausting water could cause a scaly buildup on all the things from dishes to pipes, to the heating parts of your home equipment, to your personal physique. Cleaning soap scum and clogged plumbing are often the results of exhausting water.

In probably the most fundamental sense, a water softener in impact “softens” the water by capturing these exhausting minerals earlier than the water flows by your house for use. This makes it simpler to wash your house and your laundry, whereas prolonging the lifetime of home equipment that use water. Let’s check out the science behind how a water softener works.

How Exhausting Water Turns into Comfortable – The Ion Change Course of

So, how does a water softener get the exhausting minerals out? That is the place physics and chemistry make residential water remedy potential!

Recall that all the things — all matter — is made up of atoms. Atoms (or atom teams) both carry a constructive cost (referred to as cations) or a damaging cost (merely referred to as ions or anions), and oppositely charged ions will appeal to to one another like magnets.The ion trade course of permits for varied ions to be eliminated and changed with different kinds based mostly on how they’re naturally charged. Now, take into consideration the completely different minerals in water. Some have a constructive cost, and there are various strengths to how sturdy of a pull these parts have. Calcium has a reasonably sturdy constructive cost whereas others may have a weaker cost. Water softeners reap the benefits of these positively charged parts to take away the exhausting minerals like calcium and magnesium with negatively charged resin beads contained in the media tank. These minerals are those that trigger the issues and are the explanation many householders search out a water softener.

As soon as these resin beads have collected the entire hardness minerals they will maintain, the water softener will “regenerate” them by rinsing them with a salt water resolution, which known as a brine.

Let’s break down the chemistry of the particular minerals: Calcium (Ca+2), magnesium (Mg+2), iron (Fe+3), and sodium (Na+) are all positively charged cations. The specialised resin media contained in the water softener is negatively charged.

Salt is a compound of sodium chloride (NaCl)— the sodium ion is a constructive, and the chloride is a damaging, and people parts mixed to which have bounded collectively. When the salt passes by the negatively charged resin bead stuffed with hardness, the resin offers up the hardness to draw the constructive sodium ion as an alternative.

Nonetheless with us? Let’s dig just a little deeper into the particular ion trade course of behind how a water softener works.

The Ion Change Course of in Water Softening


Illustration that shows how hard water becomes soft water through the ion exchange process.


In an effort to have an ion trade, and thus be capable of soften our water, there needs to be a media or surroundings that every one creates the situations for that to occur. The media our water softeners use is both ion-exchange resin beads or zeolite, which is a particular inorganic mineral that comes within the type of tiny crystals. Study extra about our unique zeolite materials at

Every resin bead or zeolite crystal is negatively charged and has area to carry on to constructive ions. The contemporary media begins by holding on to the positively charged sodium ions. As exhausting water passes by your water softener tank, the stronger charged calcium or magnesium are pulled to the media like a magnet. Because the hardness minerals have a better constructive cost than the sodium, they are going to knock the sodium ions off and take their place.

All of the hardness minerals keep trapped contained in the water softener tank whereas the H2O, with a number of sodium ions, disperse all through your house to be used. The water that’s dispersed all through your house not has all of the exhausting minerals that trigger scaly buildup and different issues!

It’s essential to keep in mind that tender water shouldn’t be salt water, because it solely comprises a small quantity of sodium as a result of ion trade course of. The hint quantity of salt that continues to be could be lower than consuming two ounces of cheddar cheese!

Within the animation beneath, you’ll be able to see how a water softener works. The water flows from the exterior supply, by the media that removes minerals, after which supplies your house with softened water.

Watch How a Water Softener Works



You could be questioning what occurs to the hardness minerals which might be trapped inside your softener’s tank. If all of the media beads or crystals are stuffed with the calcium, magnesium, and many others., how can remedy extra water sooner or later? That’s the place the second half of the water softening course of takes place: Regeneration!

Ion Change Throughout Regeneration


Graphic illustration showing how the ion exchange regeneration process occurs.


The regeneration course of often occurs in the midst of the evening when your loved ones is asleep and no person wants to make use of any water.

Regeneration – How Water Softeners Maintain Working

Regeneration is how a water softening system cleans and recharges itself so it may well proceed offering your house with tender water. As you’ll recall, the water softener has two most important elements: the tank during which the ion trade happens and a secondary salt storage tank.

The secondary storage tank is the place the home-owner might want to add water softener salt. Water is added to the tank to create a salt resolution referred to as brine, and sometimes, this part is called the brine tank. Throughout regeneration, the water softener will take the brine resolution into the softener tank, and the ion trade course of occurs once more, solely this time in reverse.

The media will get a shower within the salt resolution. Exhausting minerals caught within the resin (or zeolite) are launched and the media will get replenished with sodium ions. The water softener can also be cleaned and disinfected throughout regeneration. Lastly, water containing the exhausting minerals and different waste will get flushed out of the system.

Your water softener works by the ion trade course of, lowering exhausting water and recharging the system by one other ion trade within the brine resolution. Though your water softener will proceed to work with little consideration wanted from the home-owner (apart from including salt), it’s suggested to conduct preventive upkeep by having your water softener checked out recurrently.

How Do I Know If I Want a Water Softener?

In the event you discover loads of cleaning soap scum round your house, in case your towels are exhausting and stiff, or you probably have a tough time getting a pleasant sudsy lather within the bathe… you could have exhausting water issues.

Some individuals assume water softeners are solely essential you probably have a personal nicely with extraordinarily exhausting water. The fact is that tough water — it doesn’t matter what diploma of hardness — can negatively affect you and your house and it’s not one thing that your metropolis will take away earlier than offering water to their residents. Many individuals who stay in a metropolis or village with municipality-supplied water can have exhausting water coming from the faucet. Municipalities are required to deal with the water for impurities, however they sometimes don’t take away hardness minerals as a result of they don’t seem to be dangerous to your well being.

In the event you do have a nicely, you might want different sorts of filtration to enhance the water high quality as nicely since you aren’t getting water pre-treated by a municipality. Getting your water hardness examined by your native water remedy professional will enable you decide how exhausting your water is and what sort of a system you want.

Why You Ought to Care if Your House Has a Water Softener

Exhausting water could cause vital issues in your house and for you personally. In the case of your plumbing and home equipment, exhausting water construct up can degrade their efficiency and longevity. The fashionable dwelling depends upon tender water. Excessive effectivity home equipment cannot run as designed once they endure from exhausting water construct up. Dishwashers and washing machines may find yourself with a a lot shorter lifespan as a result of exhausting water can erode essential elements, inflicting them to prematurely break down or cease functioning altogether.

Exhausting water may also make it more durable to maintain your house clear as typical family cleaners may have a tough time performing in exhausting water. Staining in sinks, showers, and bogs together with mineral crusts on bathe heads and taps could make an in any other case clear area look soiled.

Individually, exhausting water may also negatively affect your hair and pores and skin. These with exhausting water are extra prone to having dry pores and skin, and it may well additionally make hair frizzy, dry, and lifeless on account of buildup. On the finish of the day, it is very important have a water softener as exhausting water can wreak havoc in your plumbing, your hair and pores and skin, and make it more durable to maintain the home clear. Now that you know the way a water softener works and who wants one, you’ll be able to take the steps to discover a water softener firm close to you, get your water examined, and have your exhausting water handled as essential.


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