What is a Water Softener: Everything You Need to Know

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what is water softener

What is a water softener? This is a great place to start if you’re new to dealing with this product. A water softener is a system or machine specially designed to convert hard water into soft water.

And this brings us to the next important question- just what is hard water, or what makes water hard? Hard water contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium which are responsible for its hardness.

Now…to remove the hardness in your home water, a water softener is required to remove these minerals that cause it and replace them with softer ones such as sodium and potassium.

“Why the hell do I have to install a water softening system in my home?”

Another good question…

Knowingly or unknowingly, you might be suffering from hard water and all the disadvantages it comes with at your home.

Benefits of a Water Softener

If you install a water softening system in your home today, I can assure you that you’ll wave goodbye to a plethora of hard water problems and start enjoying the following benefits:

  • Say goodbye to lime scales. A water softener puts an end to the formation of limescale, the white, chalky residue you see on your dishes, glasses, etc., making all your home appliances look cleaner and shinier than ever before.
  • Trust me, your skin and hair will get a softer look and feel once you start showering with the soft water provided by your new water softening system.
  • Did you know that your home appliances can last longer if you install a water softener in your home? Well, they’ll not only stay for longer but will also perform better when fed soft water. Oh and keep in mind that your appliances performing more efficiently with soft water also results in reduced energy consumption rates (and reduced power bills).
  • ​You’ll also use less soap to produce huge amounts of lather to wash your clothes quickly or when showering. Isn’t this a great way to cut your spending on the soap?
  • Because soft water puts an end to the formation of soap curds, cleaning with detergents will become faster and more efficient.
  • Using chemical-free soaps becomes possible with soft water which translates to better laundry experience.
  • Above all, soft water will make your clothes feel softer, smoother, and last longer. How? Well, hard water causes hard minerals to get trapped in the threads of your fabric and affect their lifespan. Soft water eliminates this issue for good.
  • White clothes will also maintain their ‘whiteness’ when washed with soft water, unlike with hard water which ruins them with its greying minerals.

Bottom Line: A top quality water softener acts as the ultimate solution to ALL your home hard water problems.

How To Find Out How Hard Your Water Is

Want to know how to test the hardness of the water you’re using in your home right now?

Well, there are two primary methods to do that: the unscientific/unofficial test and the store-bought test kit method.

Let me explain these methods to you one at a time.

We start with the unofficial method:

  • Grab a clean and clear bottle and fill it with your household water about half full
  • Next, add around five drops of liquid dish soap
  • Secure the bottle’s opening with a cap and give it several shakes.
  • Now remove the cap and observe the results. You’ll get two possible results. Below is what you’re looking for and how to interpret them.

How to Interpret the Results

  1. If you see lots of suds, then you might not have hard water.
  2. If you see some soap film or even a few light suds, then odds are you’ve got hard water.

Now for the official method:

For this test, you’ll need you to buy a DIY water testing kit from your local hardware store or an online store such as Amazon.

The kit is comprised of some test strips/tables that change color when they come in contact with the hard water sample. These will then indicate the level of hardness in your water.

How Does a Water Softener Work?

What does a water softener do? If you have never used a water softener before, you might be interested in knowing exactly how it works.

We’ll focus on the most popular water softener: the salt-based water softener:

As I told you earlier, the system works through an ion exchange process, in which the hard minerals are traded with softer minerals.

How does the ion exchange occur?

Well, this softening system comes with two tanks: a brine tank and a water tank.

When installing the softener, you ought to do it in such a way that all your household water passes through the tank filled with resins. Why? These resins are charged with sodium ions which are considered the most effective treatment for hard water, or potassium ions which enable the system to efficiently strip the hard water of all the minerals responsible for its hardness such as magnesium, calcium, iron, etc.

Upon releasing the sodium/potassium ions into the water, the resin beads attract the magnesium and calcium ions to complete the ion exchange process.

Now you know what a water softener is, the benefits of one, how to tell if you have hard water, and how a water softener works.

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