What Is Water Softener and How Does It Work

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About 85% of the US population depends upon hard water for their daily use, such as cooking, washing dishes, and laundry. Hard water can be used to do all these tasks, but it destroys your appliances such as dishwasher and washing machine. Not only this, but it also leaves filmy soap scum all over in the kitchen sink and bathroom tiles. And in the long run, it damages your pipelines and plumbing. Stick to this article to learn about How Does a Water Softener Work?

So sorry if you are among that 85% of the population. That’s so sad, but not now, as you can make your soft water.

Yes, you read it right!

You can convert your municipal supplied hard water into soft water by a technique known as water softening. I bet you, installing a water softener will save your appliances from permanent damage.

This article will entirely talk about the water softening process. Not only this, but you will also get to know how to these amazing water softeners work.

So let’s start!

How to Convert Hard Water Into Soft Water?

Generally speaking, there are two types of water that you must know. The first one is hard water, and the second one is soft water.

The former type of water has a high amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium. This type is not at all risky for health, but yes, it will increase soap and detergent expenses. Because it has high mineral content, it reduces the performance of soap and detergents.

In contrast to this, soft water has low concentrations of ions and minerals.

Hard water Vs Soft Water:

In other words, you can say that water containing more than 50mg/l of calcium carbonate is termed as hard water, whereas if water has 60mg/l of calcium carbonate, then it is termed as soft water.

The process of converting hard water into soft water is known as water softening. This can be done by removing the calcium, magnesium, and other cations from the water. Hence, the resulting water will be soft and has less than 60mg/l of calcium, magnesium, and other ions.

Indeed, water softening is a process that will solve all the problems that you are facing because of hard water.

Water Softeners:

Water softeners are the whole house water filtration plus softeners units. These filtration units can be installed near the main supply line, and this way, you will get pure and soft water.

These water softeners remove the high concentrations of calcium and magnesium from the water responsible for making them hard water.

What is water softener

When hard water enters into the water softener system, it removes and filters out the hard minerals and thereby soft water supplies to the entire house.

How Does a Water Softener Work?

If you really want to understand the working of water softener, then you have to recall a few principles of your high school physics.

Remember, “SAME ATTRACT, LIKE REPEL” rule?

If not, then a quick revision for you!

A magnet bar has two sides one is positive, and the other is negative. If you keep the negative ends of two magnets bar together, it will surely repel. In contrast to this, if you try to connect the positive end of one bar with the negative end of another magnet bar, it will surely attract.

This is the basic conceptual working of a water softener.

Technically speaking, water softeners work on the ion-exchange process.

Ion Exchange Process:

It’s a method in which one or more ions are removed from the water by exchanging another ionic substance.

The water softening process utilizes this ion exchange process to remove hard elements.

Water softeners have a mineral tank where the actual softening process takes place. This tank has a bed of spherical resin beads which are negatively charged. These resin beads are made up of polystyrene. Let me tell you, the two major culprits that are responsible for water hardness, are positively charged ions, which mean they are cations.

So, when the hard water flows through the water softening tank, the opposite charges will attract towards each other. This means the negatively charged resin beads attract the positively charged calcium and magnesium ions, and hence they stick at the beads. They were thereby leaving behind pure and soft water system. This way, a water softener will supply soft water with no calcium and magnesium ions. This is the method for how do water softeners work.

Now you will experience more soap lather, dishes, and clothes with no stains at all. But there comes a time when you will again start noticing limescale build-up and stains on dishes. That’s the moment when you need to regenerate your water softener system.

Regeneration Process:

After sometimes, these resin beads become fully saturated with calcium and magnesium ions. This is the time when you need to regenerate your water softener systems.

The regeneration process also works on the ion-exchange process. For this, you need to connect its brine tank. It’s a small tank that is there next to the mineral tank. This tank holds a highly concentrated salt solution, which is added manually and is used to restore the positive charge of resin beads.

During the regeneration process, the highly concentrated salt solution is flushed through the resin beads in the mineral tank.

water softener work

Let me remind you, resin beads are now full of positively charged ions.

The salt solution has positively charged sodium or potassium ions. This way, salt, calcium, and magnesium ions will start repelling each other, as they are all positively charged. The resin beads will detach calcium and magnesium, and they will drain out along with the remaining salty water. Thereby, resin beads will become negatively charged again and in action again to hold calcium and magnesium ions.

These resin beads are made up of polystyrene plastic, which is embedded in divinylbenzene. Resin beads are extremely durable and safe to use. They are capable enough to soften your hard water for a good 20 years. Just make sure that you are regenerating them timely.

water hardness test kit can be used to test or scale the hardness of water.


Frequently Asked Questions About Water Softeners:

Is it safe to use soft water?

Hard water transformed into soft water is extremely safe to use. Though it added a certain amount of sodium in the water, it is not at all unhealthy. Just make sure that you are not supplied with extremely hard water (that is hardness level of more than 400ppm). Remember, for every milligram of hard components, two milligrams of sodium will be added into your water.

So if your water is too hard, then you need to install a reverse osmosis system. Otherwise, for moderately hard water, water softeners are enough to be used alone.

How often should I regenerate my water softener?

Well, for highly efficient water softeners, it is recommended to regenerate them daily. This will ensure soft and pure water from every tap of your house whenever you turn on the tap. Some older water softeners require regeneration twice in a week.

Frankly speaking, it all depends on your usage.

Are water softener resin beads toxic?

Interestingly, these resin beads are not at all toxic. But yes, if they are damaged, you will start noticing broken yellow beads in your toilet and kitchen sink. These broken yellow beads may harm your appliances as they clog up small pipelines.

How long do water softeners last?

If well-maintained, the water softener system lasts for 10 to 15 years.

What does a water softener do?

Water Softeners remove calcium, magnesium, and other minerals from drinking water. Resin beads inside the softener trap the calcium and magnesium and exchange them for sodium or potassium.

How do I know my water softener is working?

The easy way to check the functionality of a Water softener is a soap test, If you soap lathers and bubbles then it’s working fine, whereas, If the water is hard, the same soap won’t function properly.

How long do water softeners last?

Water softeners last for 10 to 20 years, depending upon type and quality.

Why is the salt in my water softener not going down?

The typical reason why your water softener will stop using salt is because of a salt bridge that has deposited at the bottom of the brine tank. A salt bridge is caused when pieces of salt are bonded together to create a hard crusty surface on the top of the water in the brine tank.

Wrapping up:

If you are experiencing dull and dry hairs and skin with less soap lather then installing an appropriate water softener is the best solution to all your problems. Now you are well aware of how does a water softener system work.

Water softeners are extremely safe to use with no harm at all. They are a bit costly. But let me tell you that it’s not a luxury; it’s your need, especially if you live in a region where severe hard water is supplied.

Just install one in your home and see the difference.