How Do Water Softeners Work?

The world is so preoccupied with a lot of things that we sometimes forget how important water is to us and the various useful functions that it presents. Sure, it is common enough to be included in our diets, but it is also used as a tool at home for carrying materials from one place to the other. This is because water is very good at holding things by either suspending them or dissolving them.

You may notice that your dishes were cleaned before but in fact, are covered with spots when dry. Another thing you may or may not have noticed is that the water in your shower leaves a film on anything it touches and that what you assumed was clean water, has clogged up your plumbing system. This is possible considering water doesn’t come with an instruction manual and if it did, none of the aforementioned problems would have occurred.

Where Is The Problem?

When water is in the ground, it picks up soluble pieces of anything that it passes through. This is an obvious indication of contamination, but it also means that your water has minerals in it. Some of those minerals include calcium and magnesium that are particularly important because they affect the water’s ability to function in our homes. In other words, these minerals make our water hard.

Hard water is bad news and one of the ways it affects our houses is that it causes soaps and detergents to lose some of their effectiveness. Instead of the soap dissolving, the contents of the minerals turn it into a coagulated soap curd. Because of this, less soap is dissolved and more water is required. But worst of all, the insoluble curd keeps hanging on, causes it to latch onto our skin and prevent cleansing. It even makes washed hair dull and lifeless.

Laundry isn’t any better either as the soap curd works its way to your clothes during the washing process of your automatic washing machine. As a result, the dirt is trapped in the fabric, which then stiffens and roughens the fabric.

Also, the insoluble soap deposits leave spots on whatever you wash, be it dishes or your car. And a nasty soap film will build up in your bath and shower.

One more reason to be concerned about hard water is that it affects your house’s plumbing system. Your pipes will build up with calcium and magnesium deposits, which reduces flow to taps and appliances. For water heaters, the minerals build up to a point where they reduce the heater’s efficiency and life .

So What’s The Solution?

Even though there are many chemical treatments to deal with the matter, the most popular solution to soften hard water is a water softener.

Water softeners are generally mechanical appliances that are plumbed into a house’s water plumbing system. Every water softener uses a process called ion exchange to trade minerals for something else, like sodium.

At the center of a water softener lies a mineral tank. The tank contains tiny polystyrene beads that are also known as zeolite or resin which carry a negative charge.

Magnesium and calcium both carry positive charges, which means that they will cling on to the beads when the hard water passes through the water tank. Sodium ions also have positive charges, but not as strong as magnesium and calcium. When a powerful brine solution is flushed through a tank that has beads filled with magnesium and calcium, the sheer force of sodium is enough to drive the magnesium and sodium ions off the beads. Water softeners have a brine tank separate from their water tank that uses common salt in order to create the brine solution.


If you’re looking for the best water softener for yourself or anyone else who may need one, then you can easily find and compare them online.

Some of the most popular models out there have an automatic regenerating system and the most basic has an electric timer that flushes and recharges the system on a regular basis.

The second type of control uses a computer that sees how much water is being used. And the third type of control that uses a mechanical water meter to measure water usage and includes a recharging function. Make sure to select the system suitable for your home for optimal results.