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How Do Water Softeners Work?

by | Last updated Aug 3, 2020 | Published on Oct 31, 2018

How Do Water Softeners Work
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How do Water Softeners Work? (Quick Answer)

Water softeners use a process called “ion exchange” to remove the hardness minerals (calcium & magnesium) from water. It does so by exchanging sodium ion for the hardness minerals.

How Do Water Softeners Work?

Here’s a step-by-step of how water softeners work:

  1. Hard water (water containing calcium and magnesium molecules) enters the water softener.
  2. The resin beads within the softener are positively charged with sodium molecules clinging onto the resin beads.
  3. When the calcium and magnesium molecules pass through the resin beads, the calcium and magnesium take the place of the sodium.
  4. This causes the calcium and magnesium molecules to cling to the beads and the product water includes amounts of sodium instead.
  5. After an adequate amount of water has gone through the system, a backwashing cycle takes place.
  6. This is where the myth that salt is in soft water comes into play. During the backwash cycle, sodium chloride (table salt) passes through the resin beads. It is used to wash away the calcium, magnesium and here is where it splits. The chloride gets washed away with the calcium and the magnesium and only sodium is left.
  7. The sodium only is left on the resin beads and the process starts all over again.
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Did You Know?

Water Softeners use a water treatment process called “ion exchange” to remove the hardness minerals from the water and exchange them with sodium ions.

Water Softener Process Illustration

Check out this graphic on how water softeners work!

How Do Water Softeners Work

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