An Easy Guide To Understanding How Water Softeners Work

If you’re reading this, higher chances are that you have encountered hard water. This is water containing higher levels of dissolved calcium and magnesium ions. Apart from having a horrible taste, hard water doesn’t lather easily with ordinary soap, plus it tends to reduce the lifetime and effectiveness of household appliances and plumbing. Water softeners serve to remove the “hardness” in water, thus making it more drinkable, usable, and gentler on everyday appliances.

But what is a water softener and how does it work? Here are some pointers to help answer this question.


What’s a Water Softener?

As earlier hinted, a water softener is a device or system designed to eliminate the metal ions that cause hardness in water, these being magnesium and calcium. If your water supply comes from the well or you depend on hard water from the city supply, a water softener can benefit you and your household in many ways.

If you ask the guys at, it is an incredible piece of equipment to have as part of your water treatment arsenal. Below are the various benefits of purchasing a professional-recommended water softener.

  • Tastier and safer drinking water
  • It helps lengthen your appliances’ lifetime
  • It helps reduce costs from plumbing and appliance repairs
  • Enables savings from water consumption  
  • Healthier skin and hair
  • Promotes less use of soap and detergent

Parts of a Water Softener 

To know how anything works, it is best to get a picture of what it looks like. On this note, water softeners are designed with three major components to do the job effectively. Each of these parts has a specific role to play, which we can summarize as follows:

  • Resin tank – The resin tank is the taller component containing sodium-covered microbeads, also called the resin. Softening takes place here through the ion exchange process. The sodium resin basically reacts with hard water to remove the excess calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+) ions from hard water.
  • Brine tank – Usually shorter than the resin tank, the brine tank stores salt. As you can tell from the name, this is where high concentrations of saltwater solution or brine are mixed to allow regeneration.
  • Head valve – Usually above the resin tank, the head valve controls how the water softener operates. Using this valve, you can control the rate and direction flow of water passing through the system during the softening process.  

Water Softener Regeneration 

As mentioned earlier, the system depends on sodium to get rid of hardness ions from hard water as it passes through the resin tank. The resulting water is soft by the time it reaches the bottom of this tank. Regeneration is basically the process of cleaning the resin tank by flushing away the calcium and magnesium ions from the softening process.

The process of regeneration uses a brine solution, which you can make in the kitchen and use as a tenderizer. It is usually a sodium chloride solution, but potassium chloride is also used at times.

Once you identify a quality product, the other important step is to have it installed by highly qualified plumbing professionals. This way, you can be confident that only high-quality and industry-approved parts will be used, and that the appropriate regulations will be observed. All the same, the above pointers should shed some light on how water softeners work. 

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