What Are Water Softeners and How Do They Help?

Written By: Dyanne Weiss

While water is in the ground, it picks up bits of whatever it passes through. In some instances, this can mean contamination that makes water unfit to drink. But, in most cases, it simply means that the water contains minerals found in the earth. When water is referred to as “hard,” it means that it contains more minerals than ordinary water. It is drinkable, but it can impact things that use water. For example, hard water can lead to limescale deposits in household water systems that may eventually block pipes or make hot boilers and tanks inefficient.

As the name implies, a water softener is a device that removes the minerals that make the water “hard,” especially the minerals calcium and magnesium. Those two minerals are common in water, but too much of them affects how the water functions in homes and the business processes that use it.

Household Benefits

Home water softening systems offer numerous benefits for households, particularly for cleaning purposes. Scientifically, it has to do with positively charged ions in the minerals impacting negative ones in the soap. As a result, soaps and detergents lose some effectiveness. They do not dissolve completely, so the soap combines with the minerals and forms a coagulated soap curd. When less soap is dissolved, more soap is actually required to achieve results.

Here are a few examples of how water softening units commonly help in a home:

  • Household Cleaning Products: Hard water can affect the cleansing strength of detergents. Softened water delivers more cleaning power and can actually reduce the amount of soap needed.
  • Laundry and Garment Care: The impact here is the same as for soap above. Also, soap curd can work its way into clothes and actually trap dirt in fibers, which can stiffen the fabric. Using conditioned, soft water makes clothes softer, cleaner, whiter, or the colors brighter. These can actually increase the life of clothing, towels, and such. Softened water and less lime buildup can also lengthen the washing machine’s life.
  • Dishwashing and Glassware: Dishes and glassware will be easier to clean. They will also be more spot-free, without the gray film that glasses can get from mineral-laden water.
  • Bathing and Showering: Bath soap and shampoo lather better and with less effort in softened water. Hair and skin usually feel cleaner, softer, and not as dry. Also, sinks, tubs, and toilets will have less soap scum and grime. In addition, the unsightly rings, stains, or mineral build-ups that darken tubs, showers, and sinks are avoided.
  • Scale Prevention on Plumbing and Piping: Over time, limescale can form, thus clogging plumbing. This restricts water flow and reduces water pressure dramatically. Water softening can reduce the issue and increase the life span of pipes, solar heating systems, air conditioning units, and applications in the home that are water-based.

How Do Water Softeners Work?

Water softeners are basically pressurized water conditioning devices. The body of a water softener is a tank filled with resin beads covered with sodium ions. As hard water passes through, the resin beads attract the problematic calcium and magnesium ions in exchange for the sodium ions. This results in softened water.

Eventually, the resin beads do become saturated with mineral ions (like the pipes would) and have to be “re-charged.” This process is done with the control valve on the tank. In most systems, a brine solution is used to bathe the resin beads in sodium ions to replace the calcium and magnesium ions that accumulated, which are then flushed down the drain. Regenerated resin beads can be used over and over again.

Water softeners are rated by grains of capacity. The capacity of a water softener depends on the amount of salt grains used to regenerate it, plus a variety of other design factors.

Who Needs One?

Almost all water in the United States is hard water, to varying degrees. Before considering a water softener for the home, it is important to know the composition of the water in the area and its hardness levels. This evaluation helps determine what size water softener is needed.

Home use is not the only area water softeners are employed. Many industries use a lot of water and need to consider the impact on their equipment and pipes. These include restaurants and breweries as well as others that use water in their processing.

The Benefits of Soft Water from your Tap

Written By: Ryan Union

Many people are unaware of the numerous benefits of soft water, including the health benefits. That said, once they start to do some research into those benefits, they may be quite surprised. Water softening devices do not have a negative impact on the environment, so they are completely safe to use in any setting, whether home or industrial.

Have they been looking for a better quality cleaning product?

First of all, the problem may not lie with a person’s cleaning product but, rather, with the water that they are currently using. When they filter their water using a water softening system, they will soften all of the water that comes into their home-be it drinking water or the water that they use to clean their home, their dishes, and even their clothing.

What are the benefits of using soft water from tap?

Soft water just tastes better. There are no odors or!
bad flavors coming from 
tap, and consumers will enjoy each refreshing drink that they take from the faucet. Soap scum and residue from hard water will be a thing of the past because they will no longer build up in the sink.

As well, homeowners’ appliances will last a lot longer if they are not constantly being exposed to hard water scale buildup. This effect manifests itself in a household’s laundry machines, its dishwasher, its coffee maker, and even its ice maker.

Homeowners who!
notice a chalky buildup on their kitchen fixtures can soften
their water with some type of filtration system so that these buildups become a problem of the past. Consequently, they won’t experience a buildup of limescale in the pipes of their sinks and plumbing system either.

What are the benefits of soft water in the bath?

Hard water and soap should never meet one another. The lime content of hard water mixes with soap chemicals to form an insoluble residue known as soap curd!
. This i
s either impossible or quite difficult to get rid of
and can cause a serious buildup in their bath and shower. Just imagine what it does to one’s skin!

That soap curd can clog a person’s pores and leave their skin feeling dry and patchy. It can cause their hair to look dull and become sticky and may even lead to serious skin infections when bacteria are trapped in their pores under that soap buildup.

What to do to get!
rid of dingy, gray clothes?

There’s no two ways about it: hard water is hard on laundry. Minerals in hard water reduce the effectiveness of one’s laundry detergent and make it much less effective too. It causes damage to the fibers of one’s clothing and leaves clothes looking dull and dirty. Soft water can help one’s clothes come out looking much cleaner and lasting longer.

One’s hot water heater may also be af!
fected by hard water. Softening 
water can effectively reduce the energy that a hot water heater consumes by as much as 24%. That alone can translate into a really large savings on the household’s next energy bill.

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