How Water Softeners Work

In order to understand how water softeners work, it’s important to understand why water softeners are necessary to begin with.



Water is considered to be ‘hard’ when it contains excess amounts of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Aside from having a very distinct mineral taste, hard water causes a variety of other problems in the household as well.

One of the most common problems encountered with hard water is that detergents and soaps don’t work very well. You find that you need to use much more than the recommended amount of detergent to achieve the desired amount of lather and it doesn’t rinse away very well. Showers and sinks become coated with soap scum, your body doesn’t feel completely clean and laundry doesn’t look as bright as it should.

These hard water problems can be solved by adding a water softener such as Calgon or even a bit of ordinary rock salt to baths and laundry loads. How water softeners work is that the sodium replaces the other minerals, softening the water.

Although the minerals contained in hard water are dissolved, they don’t stay that way. They adhere to everything the water touches, solidifying into hard, flaky scale.

Mineral scale can eventually clog pipes and shower heads as well as wreak havoc on any household appliances that use water. Hard water significantly shortens the life of coffee machines because it clogs the inner workings of the machine.

It has a similar effect on the insides of washing machines and dishwashers, but what many people don’t realize is that having untreated hard water in your household can actually cost you money.

Scale accumulates on the element of the hot water heater, which forces the water heater to run longer to keep the water heated. The more the water heater has to run, the more electricity it consumes every month, and the shorter its life will be.

There is a way you can avoid higher electric bills and having to frequently replace your washing machine, dishwasher, coffee machine and hot water heater and here’s how: Water softeners work by way of a simple chemical reaction that removes the dissolved minerals from the water. Once the minerals are removed, they can no longer solidify on the insides of pipes and appliances and the water is considered to be soft.

How water softeners work is that the magnesium and calcium ions that are in the hard water are simply replaced by sodium ions. Because sodium does not adhere to the insides of pipes or appliances, nor does it react poorly with soap, your hard water problem is solved.

In order to replace the ions , the household water is run through a water softening unit that contains a bed of salt or sodium-coated plastic beads, or zeolite, a chemical matrix that contains a coat of sodium ions. Eventually the material in the bed will contain no sodium and only magnesium and calcium and then it will have to be regenerated in order to continue softening the water.



To read more about water softeners, please follow these links:

The Three Best Types Of Water Softener Salt

What Are The Best Dishwasher Water Softener Options?

Understanding The Electronic Water Softener Options

Protect the Environment With An Eco Water Softener

The Right Size Is Important When Installing A Water Softener

What Are the Advantages Of Salt Free Water Softeners?

What Salt For Water Softeners Options Are There?

Why Use Water Softener Crystals?