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How A Water Softener Works

In this section ion-exchange explained

The science

Your water is hard because it contains calcium (or magnesium) minerals in solution. This happens when the water passes underground through layers of chalk or limestone (calcium carbonate).

The only way to soften water is to physically remove these hardness minerals. This is achieved by passing the hard water across millions of special resin beads that are covered in sodium ions. The calcium (and magnesium) ions stick to the beads by knocking off the sodium ions. This process is called ion-exchange and happens when the water softener regenerates.

The water leaves the resin beads free from calcium carbonate, but now contains a small amount of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). This is completely harmless, causing none of the problems of hard water.

The right water softener – properly installed – will give you completely soft water. No more scale or scum. And even the old scale will be gently dissolved away!

The mechanics

The only way to soften water is an ion-exchange water softener. Which is why you find them in every dishwasher, palace, hospital, large hotel – and many, many homes.

Each softener has one or more tanks full of ion-exchange resin beads. Whenever water is used, hard water is drawn through the softener and softened.

Eventually the calcium must be washed off the resin beads using brine (salt solution). This is best done using counter-current regeneration, so as to remove debris and prevent veining. The resin is then rinsed with fresh water.

Water softeners are fully automatic and low maintenance – just add salt every few weeks. How often and when a water softener washes the resin beads with salt, depends on the type of softener and the amount of water being used.

KindWater’s team of friendly experts will be pleased to explain these options. Or click here to see How To Choose A Water Softener.

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