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How Does a Water Softener Work?

July 27, 2018

Are you tired of dealing with white stains on dishes and faucets? Does your hair feel dingy and limp? Do your clothes feel rough and scratchy? It could be caused by hard water. If you’re tired of dealing with the effects of hard water a water softener could be the solution for you. But how does a water softener work? See how this small machine can make a big difference in your home.
A visual diagram of how a water softener works.

The Chemistry Behind Softened Water

Water is naturally soft. As it runs down mountains or is stored in wells and reservoirs, minerals dissolve in the water, changing its hardness. Water is considered hard when a large amount of minerals like calcium and magnesium are dissolved in it. These minerals are often called “hard” minerals because of their effects on soap and other metals. Depending on how hard your water is, the calcium and magnesium in your water can:

  • Cause hard water stains on dishes, sink fixtures, and any surfaces cleaned with hard water.
  • Create mineral build-up in your pipes, potentially clogging drains
  • Shorten the lifespan of large appliances, including your water heater, dishwasher, and washer
  • Build up in skin and hair, drying out skin and making hair dingy and limp
  • Fade and wear out clothes

Why Do Water Softeners Use Sodium?

In order to avoid the problems caused by hard water, the hard minerals are replaced with soft minerals like sodium through a water softener. Sodium is used because it doesn’t react with your soap or other metals in your pipes. This means that soap can lather properly, leaving skin and hair soft. The hard minerals don’t collect in your pipes, which prevents scale and hard mineral build-up too.

You can learn more about the benefits of a water softener here.

How Much Sodium Do Water Softeners Add to My Water?

The amount of sodium a water softener adds to your water is minimal. In fact, water softeners only add about 12.5 mg per 8 oz. glass of water. This sodium does not make your water taste salty, and it’s not enough to be a concern for those on a low-sodium diet. You may find you prefer the taste of softened water!

Do I Need a Water Softener?

Whether or not you need a water softener depends on how hard the water is in your home. You can find out how hard the water is in your area with our free hard water tool! All it takes is your ZIP code.

See How Hard Your Water Is

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