Water Softeners Report


Water Softeners > Technology
  Ion Exchange
  Dual Tanks
The basic technology behind the majority of water softeners on the market today is based on a system of ion exchange which effectively removes the hard minerals out of the water supply and replaces them with an alternative set of ions. This is accomplished while a multi-step process.
The culprits behind "hard" water are primarily calcium and magnesium - the same elements which are important nutrients for the human body.

When the hard water passes through a water softener, the calcium and magnesium ions in that water are exposed to a bed of resins (plastic beads) which is coated with a highly concentrated solution of either salt or potassium. Because the resins are negatively charged, they attract and bind the positively charged calcium and magnesium ions from the water and replace them with salt or potassium ions. After the water has passed through the water softener, its calcium and magnesium content is significantly diminished, which turns it from hard water to soft water.

Most water softeners use a dual tank system comprised of a mineral tank and a brine tank. The mineral tank contains the resins and is the place through which hard water passes in order to be softened. However, over time, all of the salt or potassium on the resins is used up and the resins can no longer capture calcium and magnesium ions in the water as it passes through. When this happens, the mineral tank has to be "regenerated". Regeneration is comprised of three parts. The first part is "backwash", when the water flow is reversed and the mineral tank is flushed of  all of the accumulated calcium, magnesium and other debris. The second part is "recharge", when new salt or potassium saturated solution is pumped from the brine tank into the mineral tank and the resins are thereby refreshed. The final part is "rinse", when the water flow is turned back to normal and the mineral tank returns to exchanging calcium and magnesium ions from the water for salt or potassium ions from the resins. Here is an illustration of a typical water softener system:

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