A water softener is a device installed in homes and businesses that removes the hardness from your water by exchanging calcium and magnesium ions for sodium ions. The process of exchanging these ions is called ion exchange. Read this article from beginning to end to learn step-by-step how does a water softener work.
How does a water softener work?
A water softener has two tanks: a resin tank and a brine tank.
Resin beads are negatively charged.
Hard water that is positively charged passes through the tank containing resin beads.
The positively charged molecules of hard water are attracted to beads that are negatively charged and stick firmly to the beads, removing them from the hard water. This provides soft water that is safe for drinking.
The softened water gets out of the resin tank and flows to your kitchen faucet ready for human consumption.
After a period resin beads are overcoated with minerals that they extract from hard water.
The hard mineral coat makes the resin beads not operate properly, resulting in you cleaning them so that they can continue collecting hard minerals from your untreated water.
This is where the second tank comes in; it is filled with a brine solution (strong salt water).
The brine solution flows through resin beads, rinsing hard minerals that have stuck firmly on the resin beads.
The brine solution and hard minerals are flushed out of the resin tank into a drain.
The resin beads are cleaned and ready to attract and collect hard minerals present in your hard water.
The process by which resin beads are cleaned so that they strike hard minerals they have picked from hard water is called Regeneration.
The process of rinsing resin beads can take two hours. During this time, the water softening process stops unless you have a dual-tank water softener system.
A dual tank means the regeneration can take place on one tank while the other tank is softening hard water, providing softened water throughout without interruption.
Water softeners replace the presence of the minerals in hard water with sodium using a process called ion exchange.
There are other alternatives that can help condition your hard water without the use of salt. These are a salt-free water conditioner, a reverse osmosis system, and a water conditioner. Each method uses different techniques to treat hard water.