What Is a Water Softener?

What is a water softener? Well, for us to fully understand that concept we need to first understand why it was innovated in the first place, and the main reason why is because of hard water.

Water is considered hard water when it’s got a lot of calcium and magnesium in it. And yes, they are not harmless elements in your water as both calcium and magnesium (a lot of it in your water) can wreak havoc in a lot of ways.

Hard water can damage your dishwasher, water heater, or stain your tiles and bathroom doors among others. In this article, we’ll talk about water softeners, how does it work, and how can it help you lessen the impact of hard water especially if you live in areas where these nasty elements are abundant in your water supply.

What Is a Water Softener And How Does It Work?

Given our explanation above, then we can now explain what a water softener does in simpler terms. The very concept of water softeners is to eliminate water hardness. That simply means, removing all of the elements that contribute to it being hard namely calcium and magnesium, or at least primarily.

It’s essentially a whole house filtration system that with the use of an innovative process called ion exchange will remove said elements and save you from a ton of headaches.

About 80% of households in American alone relies on hard water for everything they do. Cooking, hygiene, cleaning, and so we must lessen the detrimental effects of hard water towards our appliances, devices, piping, and house, in general.

filthy soap scum caused by hard water

See that filthy soap scum in your bathroom tiles? That’s caused by hard water. It may also dry your hair and skin plus ruin your faucets and everything else that relies on water for functionality. Investing in a good quality water softener goes a long way and will save you a ton of money.

How does it work?

So, how does this ion exchange process work? To eliminate calcium and magnesium in your hard water, water softeners let it pass on its mineral tank with a bed of resin beads. These plastic beads are charged with sodium ions and they have a negative charge.

Since calcium and magnesium are positively charged then they get attracted by the resin beads.  Opposite attracts, right? This very simple process ensures that soft water now flows out of the filtration system and it’s all good from here on out.

water softening process

What Are The Usual Components Of a Water Softener?

Your water softener filtration system usually comes with an all-important mineral tank, control valves, and a brine tank.

The mineral tank, as mentioned above, serves as the primary area where hard water is being turned into soft water as your water supply feeds through it. It contains the primary components, the bed of resin beads, where the ion exchange process takes place and makes sure that the water comes out soft as it enters the pipes and out to your faucets or appliances.

The control valve makes sure that everything goes according to plan. It measures the amount of water passing through and makes sure that the water softener filtration system can still handle the supply.

This is where everything is programmed to ensure that the filtration system can convert hard to soft water efficiently. If not, then supplies need to replenish especially with the resin beads as they are rendered ineffective in time.

Lastly, the brine tank is situated right next to the mineral tank and ensures that the mineral tank is always replenished with its supply of resin beads for efficient function. These are the three components in your water softener filtration system, straightforward but effective.

Frequently Asked Questions

What else do water softeners remove aside from calcium and magnesium?

Ferrous iron is one other element that while it does not really contribute to your water being hard, darkens the color of water, and water softeners effectively remove them too. Ferrous iron stains things in your bathroom or just about anything that water gets to as well so this is another positive effect of employing water softeners.

If you’re asking as to what water softeners are unable to effectively remove then we can say that it might not be effective when it comes to removing ferric iron or insoluble iron. In full disclosure, ferric iron tends to clog your resin beads and hampers its regenerative process so be sure to get a machine that as much as possible lessens this possibility.

Is softened water safe to drink?

A big YES! Water that has passed through a water softener system is very safe to drink. You may be thinking that these filtration systems add sodium into your water, right? Well, there’s no need to worry as the amount of sodium released into your water as it is being filtered is not at all harmful and in very small amounts.

How much do these devices usually cost?

A whole house water softener system can cost around $600 to $1500. But trust us when we say that this investment will be worth every penny. If you put into consideration how long these systems work then you wouldn’t think that it’s luxurious to go get one.

They are cost-efficient and may last for 20 years if properly maintained. And it turns out, they are not that hard to install or maintain either. Compared to what you will experience and how much it will cost you if you keep on utilizing hard water for your household, getting and installing a water softener system is much cheaper in the long run.

At the very least water softener systems will take 15 years before you probably need to replace them.

What are the different types of salts used in water softeners?

The choice of salt for your water softener system will affect how it operates. You have three primary options for this, rock salt, solar salt, and evaporated salt. Make sure to check thoroughly which one best fits your budget and needs.

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