How does a water softener work?

Clear blue water

Do you remember your high school chemistry class? During your time there, it’s likely that you discussed the concept of “ion exchange.” If you’re wondering, “How does a water softener work,” we’re going to have to brush up on your knowledge of ion exchange. You’ll be an expert in no time!

When Do You Need a Water Softener?

If you have hard water, or water that’s packed with dissolved minerals, you’re going to be dealing with some issues in the long run. Hard water can “scale” on the insides of your pipes, causing issues with water flow. Eventually, they can completely clog. It’s a very costly problem. Here are few other clues that you’re dealing with hard water:

  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Spots on dishes
  • Water heater failure
  • Mineral build up and soap scum on fixtures, bathtubs, etc.
  • Soap that won’t froth
  • Fading clothes
  • Scratchy clothes

You can measure the hardness of your water using a “grains per gallon” test kit. If you water measures at 1 G/G or less, you have soft water. Water that’s 1-3.5 G/G is considered slightly hard. If you’re coming out at 3.5-7 G/G, you’ve got moderately hard water. Finally, anything above 7 G/G is true hard water.

How Does a Water Softener Work?

If you’re tired of dealing with hard water, installing a water softener into your existing plumbing solution is one of the most effective solutions. The center of the tank is filled with small resin beads that carry a negative charge. The minerals in your water carry a positive charge. As you know, opposites attract.

As your hard water passes through the water softener, the positive mineral ions are attracted to the negatively charged resin. In its place, sodium ions are flushed into the water. How do you get sodium ions into the water softener? With the use of salt, of course! The sodium in salt easily changes spots with the magnesium and calcium particles, resulting in soft, healthy water for your home.

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