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Water Softeners : How They Work and What They Do

Water Softeners : How They Work and What They Do


In short, as my colleague Mel says, “water softeners soften water.”


You may be thinking that seems like an unhelpful oversimplification, and perhaps, to an extent, you’d be right. But the essence of what Mel says, at the end of the day, is still true. Regardless of how it does it, how much it costs, or what it looks like, the outcome is still the same. Water softeners soften water.


People buy water softeners because they live or work in hard water areas and have been noticing the negative impacts of having hard water in their home or workplace. This could be a build-up of scale, water-based equipment that isn’t functioning as efficiently as possible, or services and products that are sub-par.


Water softeners take hard water, and convert it into soft water – counteracting and preventing the side-effects of hard water in the process.


But how do they work?


Hard water is formed in hard water areas as rainwater permeates the sedimentary rocks that make up large parts of the U.K. and collects minerals such as calcium and magnesium. It is the amount of minerals found within our water that determines whether it is hard or not.


When hard water passes through our pipes and equipment, over time it will leave little deposits of minerals in the pipework or in the machines that will damage them and render them less efficient.


When they pass through a water softener instead, the water goes through something called ‘ion exchange’.


Softener vessels are filled with millions of microscopic resin beads that contain a negative magnetic charge. The minerals, calcium and magnesium, which are found in water carry a positive magnetic charge. As such, the two are attracted to one another, and the minerals in the water causing the hardness are removed and attached to the resin. The water passes on through the softener and out the other side minus those minerals.


Once this process has occurred, the resin bed must be washed to remove the minerals and to recharge the negative ions on the resin beads. And then the softener is ready to go again. This is how all ion-exchange softeners work.


So if you’re tackling hard water in your home or business, installing a water softener will soften your water, and protect your pipes, equipment, and products.