Water is classified as “hard: when it contains more minerals, especially calcium and magnesium, than normal water. Since calcium and magnesium are positively charged ions, then other positively charged ions will dissolve less in hard water compared to water that has low concentration of these ions. This is primarily why soap doesn’t dissolve or foam in hard water. Furthermore, under certain conditions, hard water may cause build up inside pipes, eventually leading to clogged pipes.
Water softening is a technique in which calcium and magnesium ions are removed from hard water. Softening is mainly done through a process called ion exchange in which calcium, magnesium and iron ions are replaced by sodium or potassium ions.
A water softener unit usually consists of a media filter, an ion exchange filter, a brine tank and a control panel. The unit’s size is determined by two variables, the hardness of the subject water, and water demand per day.
Hard water has many negative effects in households and in the industry. Hard water deposits lime scale in water systems, this can clog pipes, reduce the efficiency of water boilers, and damage machinery such as laundry machines, coolers and chillers. Soft water contributes to a longer life span of all water-based equipment and cut down their operation and maintenance cost significantly.
A softener’s main task is to remove “hardness minerals” which are calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+) ions. Ion exchangers are often used in the process. Resin Beads inside the softener vessel have a different electric charge than the particles dissolved in the water. Due to this difference, the dissolved particles are attracted to the resin beads upon contact, freeing the water from these hard particles, making the exiting water out of the unit to be “soft”. After an extended use, the resin would reach its limit to hold those hardness particles and would need regeneration before reuse. That’s why softener vessels come in different sizes.
No, soft water is only free of “hardness particles” and could contain other dissolved and suspended solids that the ion exchange resin can’t remove. If needed, you can request a bacteria test or full lab analysis on your water.
No, salt (sodium chloride) can not enter water through the softener unit, it is only used to regenerate the resin. Opposite to many misbeliefs, salt does not enter water but it exchanges sodium ions for hardness ions, adding sodium to the water, usually in the form of sodium bicarbonate.
A water softener will not effect the water’s essential minerals, it just removes hardness minerals, calcium, magnesium and iron.
Under proper supervision and maintenance, ion exchange resin could last up to 20 years. However, it is impossible to determine the lifespan of the resin as many factors contribute to its degradation.
Waste water rich in sodium or potassium chloride brine should not be used for irrigation as brine can alter the osmotic pressure that plants rely on for their water needs.
Yes, newly installed systems can be moved and installed at the new location with minimal hassle.