What is a water softener and how does it function?

A water softener is a machine that removes minerals that create water hardness, one of the most common water quality problems many homeowners encounter. Hard water detracts appliances, leaves filmy soap scum across bathrooms and kitchens, and dries out hair and skin. With over three-quarters of the United States relying on hard water for their cooking, cleaning, and bathing, water softeners serve a vital purpose. A water softener saves you from replacing prematurely ruined water heaters, scaly faucet heads, and multiple hours of cleaning up soapy residue. Investing in a water softener saves your time, energy, and money, and protects your home.

What is a water softener? 

It is a whole-house filtration system that removes hardness-causing calcium and magnesium minerals from your water through a process referred to as ion exchange. A water softener deals with one of the most prevalent and devastating water problems: hard water. Hard water causes many harmful effects on modern homes. Scale builds up in your pipelines, clogging them and lowering water pressure. Scale significantly shortens the lifespan of appliances like dishwashers, coffee makers, and ice machines. Hard water completely destroys hot water appliances. The higher the temperature of the water, the more calcium and magnesium will solidify and harden into solid deposits in your hot water heater. If you live in a territory that has hard water, it can sound like your water heater is popping popcorn. This happens because the scale has attached itself to the heating element. As the temperature of the heater rises which makes the tank expands, the calcified rock deposits crusted on the heating elements start cracking and stretching. A hard water-induced scale is a prime reason for that popcorn-popping sound.

Without a water softener, laundry needs more detergent to prevent it from looking dingy. When you take your dishes out of your dishwasher they will be streaked and stained. Filmy scum builds up on your shower curtains and your soap and shampoo will not lather up to their maximum potential. Taking a bath in hard water leaves your skin itchy and dry and your hair lifeless and sticky. The huge amount of time, energy, and money required to clean up the detrimental side effects of hard water is mind-boggling. A whole-house water softener is an answer to the scourge of water hardness.

How does a water softener work? 

A water softener removes calcium and magnesium from water through a process which is called ion exchange. When the hard water enters in the mineral tank, it flows through a strip of spherical resin beads. These plastic beads, which are usually made from polystyrene, are charged with a sodium ion. The resin beads are anions, which mean they have a negative charge. Both the calcium and magnesium minerals have a positive charge, which makes them cations. Since opposite charges attract each other, the negative charge of the minerals is attracted to the positive charge of the resin beads. As the hard water passes through the resin, the beads grab the mineral ions and terminate them from the water. When the bead captures the mineral ion, the sodium ion is released. The column of resin strips extracts all the hardness out of the water as it passes through the mineral tank, and softened water flows out into the pipes.