How Do Water Softeners Work? Are they worth the investment? Well, Water softeners work by removing magnesium, calcium and other metals in hard water. The end product is soft water that prolongs the lifetime of plumbing systems and is compatible with soap.
Magnesium and calcium inhibit the action of detergents and household soaps, thus, Water Softeners soften water and help the soap to successfully remove dirt or oil from dishes and clothing.
Understanding Hard and Soft Water
Understanding the chemistry behind hard and soft water and discussing the process used to make water soft will help answer the question, How Do Water Softeners Work?
Hard water has a considerable quantity of dissolved minerals like magnesium and calcium. While soft water has undergone the softening process to remain with the only sodium ion.
The solubility of these (calcium and magnesium) minerals will determine the level of softness or hardness of the water. However, from a health view, these minerals don’t have undesirable effects rather, they are essential daily nutrients. These minerals give drinking water a refreshing flavor, hence, encourages more water consumption.
However, when the magnesium and calcium diffuse in water, they accumulate on contact surfaces like plug pipes leading to the destruction of water heaters. They also reduce the effectiveness of detergents and soaps. When all these happen the water is described as hard water.
The best-recommended method of addressing hard water is through the use of water softeners. Water softening is achieved when magnesium and calcium ions are attached to tiny resin beads through the ion exchange process.
Potassium or sodium ions are introduced into the softening process to charge the resin beads. When hard water passes through the resin beads, the magnesium and calcium are pulled out from the passing water and replaced with potassium or sodium, giving you soft water.
The Water Softening Process
Water softening is achieved using the ion exchange process. A water softener unit is usually connected directly to aid in making water soft.
The Ion Exchange Process
We’ve already established that Magnesium and calcium ions are responsible for water hardness. This hardness can be eliminated through the ion exchange process.
Standard water softeners units are cation exchange appliances. Cations are positively charged ions found in the water. The cation exchange process encompasses the substitution of the hard ions with ions that are not hard.
Sodium is mostly used as the exchange ion in Water softeners. Sodium ions are gotten from dissolved sodium chloride (salt), also referred to as brine. During the ion exchange process, the sodium ions cling on the tiny resin beads found on the softener.
When hard water comes into contact with the softener, the magnesium and calcium ions exchange places with the sodium ions. Usually, sodium ions are attached loosely and can be replaced effortlessly by magnesium and calcium ions. In the process, free sodium ions are discharged into the water
Details: How Do Water Softeners Work?
The water softener unit contains some porous plastic resin beads which resemble wet sand. These beads are covered with particles that cling to positive ions that are dissolved in water.
Usually, sodium positive ions cover the resin beads, however, as the water passes through the resin to your sink, the magnesium and calcium ions present in hard water cling to the resin.
As a result, sodium ions are discharged into the water a process that helps to keep the resin’s electrical charge balanced. With time, more sodium ions will be released into the water, while the resin becomes more saturated with the magnesium and calcium ions.
Therefore, after a couple of days, the Water Softener unit should restore the resin by rinsing it with concentrated salt water solution (sodium chloride).
The sodium ions in the water are highly concentrated now and easily displace the magnesium and calcium ions and the resin gets covered once again with sodium ions. The magnesium and calcium ions plus the salty rinse water are flushed through the drainage and the softener unit resumes normal operation. However, it’s recommended that you add sodium chloride salt (water softener salt) inside the softener unit to make the salty rinse water.
Why Is Water Softener Salt Important?
You can liken water softener salt to your car’s gasoline. Your softener unit must have salt, not just any kind of salt, but the right one to facilitate proper regeneration of the softener.
Therefore, you must inquire from your supplier which kind of softener is suitable for the water softener unit in your home. Ensure you purchase the best water softener salt available to facilitate the smooth running of your system.
Avoid using block salt since it doesn’t dissolve fast to allow effective regeneration. In addition, ensure you stock an adequate amount of water softener salt and remember to check the brine tank frequently to establish the amount of salt you require. You’ll need more salt if water usage in your home is high
Why Use A Water Softener
Water softening is a crucial process since water hardness in both residential and commercial units is eliminated during the softening process.
Hard water can clog pipes and it doesn’t lather easily with soap. Water softening will prevent these undesirable effects from happening.
Hard water causes a buildup of lime deposits and the subsequent destruction of household water systems. Furthermore, washing machines, dishwashers, and other High-efficiency appliances get affected by these deposits. These devices will have a shorter lifespan and will not function as was intended because of the hard water.
Water softening is important as it expands the lifespan of household appliances like washing machines and dishwashers. It also extends the lifespan of pipes, air conditioning units, solar heating systems, and other household water appliances.
Why You Shouldn’t Use a Water Softener
- The sodium content in soft water is not ideal for watering plants, gardens, or lawns
- High Sodium intake can pose health risks