What Is A Water Softener And How Does It Work?

Water Softener

If you don’t own a water softener, you must use more detergent to keep your clothes from looking dirty. Your dishes will have streaks and stains when they come out of the dishwasher. Your shower curtains will get slimy, and your soap and shampoo won’t do any good. When you take a bath in hard water, your skin gets itchy and dry, and your hair loses volume and sticks together. It’s hard to believe how much time, energy, and money it takes to clean up the problems caused by hard water. Water that is too hard can be fixed with a whole-house water softener. So what is a water softener?

Water Softener

Hard water results from excessive levels of calcium and magnesium in the water, both of which may be filtered out using a filtering system known as a water softener. A water softening system filters out the hard water minerals as the water passes through it, and the softer water then exits the system and continues on its way through the plumbing.

How Do Water Softeners Work?

If you can believe it, water softeners are pretty similar to magnets. A conventional bar magnet has one “positive” and one “negative” end. For example, assume you are attempting to link the positive ends of two bar magnets. And what occurs, exactly? One is trying to avoid the other; thus, naturally, they are repelling each other. It’s impossible to bond them regardless of how hard you try. But what would happen if you try to link the positive end to the opposing end of the other? They click together instantly!

To put it simply, Water Softeners rely on the law of attraction to neutralize the effects of hard water.

Calcium and magnesium, the two main minerals responsible for hard water, have a positive charge. A filter made of negatively charged resin beads is also used in the softening process, and the hard water is pumped through the system as the hard water passes through the resin beads, like magnets they attract.

This concept is also similar during system cleanups or regenerations. Water and salt (both positively charged) wash through the resin beads during regeneration. As with the magnet, the positive charges in the salt, calcium, and magnesium are repelled by each other. The saline water causes the calcium and magnesium to separate from the resin beads and flow out.

Can You Drink Softened Water?

There are no known health threats associated with drinking soft water. The resin beads release sodium into the water during the ion exchange when they bind to the hardness minerals. However, contrary to popular belief, softened water does not contain excessive amounts of salt. 

If your water is somewhat hard, say 5 grains per gallon (approximately 86 ppm), you need to add just 37 milligrams of salt every quart. There goes your salt consumption goal for the day. Sodium content varies widely across different foods, with white bread having roughly 170 milligrams per slice and pizza having about 640 mg. Therefore, water softeners provide a tiny quantity of salt to the water supply.

Professional methods of testing for hard water are available. For additional details, contact us at Gray Plumbing to learn more about water softeners and other services.