How Does a Water Softener Work?

Water SoftenerA water softener is a highly specialized piece of equipment that is used to make “hard” water “soft.” Though generally harmless to human health, hard water can give rise to a wide range of problems and annoyances in the household, such as the appearance of soap curd and detergent deposits on laundered fabrics; the formation of hard water stains/streaks on glassware and dishes; and the inability of soaps and shampoos to lather fully. Through a process called ion exchange, a water softener takes out the offending hardness minerals and replaces them with trouble-free ions of sodium or potassium. The resulting soft water leads to a noticeable improvement in a variety of everyday activities that occur throughout the whole house – from cooking to cleaning dishes to doing laundry. Soft water can also extend the useful life of boilers, water heaters, washing machines, dishwashers, and coffee makers by inhibiting limescale buildup.

According to the Water Quality Association (WQA), an influential voice of the water quality improvement industry, the typical ion exchange water softener system is filled with thousands of sulfonated polystyrene spherical resin beads that are about 1 mm in diameter. Water softening occurs when these beads attract and then hold onto positively charged water hardness ions, exchanging them for the negatively charged ions of sodium or potassium. Every true water softener works according to this principle. Other technologies, such as divalent rejector RO membranes and electro-dialysis (ED), do show some promise but are, as of yet, not nearly as effective or affordable as water softening systems that utilize ion exchange.

For more information about ion exchange water softener systems and the many benefits of living with soft water in general, please contact your local authorized RainSoft dealer. Since 1953, RainSoft has been a leader of the residential water treatment industry. Our water softening systems for the home are assembled in the USA, backed by a Limited Lifetime Warranty, and Tested and Certified by the WQA and NSF International.