A water softener can provide a number of benefits to your health and your household, including softer skin and hair, cleaner dishes, more vibrant laundry, and reduced utilities bills. But these advantages do not just occur on accident. Water softening is powered by an intricate scientific process that uses ionic charges to get the job done.

Here is a breakdown of how the water softening process works and how it can benefit several different aspects of your everyday life.

How water softeners work

As mentioned, water softening uses an ion exchange process to eliminate the hard minerals of calcium and magnesium from our water – two minerals that are not as effectively removed via mechanical filtration. The ion exchange process is facilitated by resin beads in the softener that are charged with sodium ions.

Here is a step-by-step walkthrough of how a water softener works.

  1. First, your home’s water supply sends hard water containing calcium and magnesium into the water softener’s mineral tank – the main tank where the softening process will take place.
  2. The hard water then flows through the mineral tank’s resin beads, which are typically made from polystyrene (plastic) and are charged with a sodium ion. The resin beads are anions (negatively charged) while the calcium and magnesium are cations (positively charged).
  3. Since opposite charges attract, the hard minerals become attracted to the resin beads and attach to them while passing through the tank, thus removing the hardness from our water. After the beads engage the mineral ion, a sodium ion is also released.
  4. The soft water, with the hard minerals now removed and left attached to the resin beads in the tank, flows out of the tank and makes its way to your home’s faucets for use in drinking, bathing, cooking, and more.

Water softener regeneration

Over time, the hard water entering the mineral tank slowly depletes and wears down the effectiveness of the resin beads. Eventually, there is only so much softening the resin beads can perform without begin regenerated.

This water softener regeneration process is facilitated automatically by the softener’s control valve, which uses a meter to measure the amount of water passing through the tank and into the house. Before the resin beads are able to become entirely depleted, the control valve automatically initiates the regeneration of the beads.

The water softener regeneration cycle is programmed into the control valve and is timed based on a number of factors, including:

  • The size of your house
  • The number of occupants in your house
  • The hardness of the water entering the tank

Brine tank

The brine tank also plays a key role in the regeneration process. The brine tank is the shorter tank that sits directly adjacent to the mineral tank. It holds a highly concentrated solution of salt (and sometimes potassium) that serve to restore the resin beads’ positive charge before it becomes depleted.

Salt is manually added to the brine tank and then dissolves in the water at the bottom of the tank. The control valve alerts the brine tank when it’s time for the solution to move into the tank and aid in regeneration. To keep your softener functioning effectively and efficiently, you need to make sure the brine tank is never out of salt.

Benefits of soft water

When all is said and done, the ion exchange process powering the water softener has eliminated hard mineral deposits in our water to help us enjoy:

  • Softer skin and hair
  • Cleaner, less fragile dishware
  • Brighter laundry
  • Reduced utilities bills
  • More durable appliances
  • Reduced limescale and soap scum
  • And more

Culligan Water offers both rental and purchase options for our water softeners to provide a solution that best suits your lifestyle and budget. We also offer professional water testing and salt-free water conditioners – and we even sell and deliver bags of salt directly to your door.

Find the Culligan dealer nearest you today to start giving the people in your home better water.