How Does a Water Softener Work?

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How Does a Water Softener Work?

Have you ever heard about a water softener and wondered how it works? Before finding out how it works, let’s first discuss what a water softener is and its purpose.

What is a water softener?

A water softener is a type of filtration system that is used to remove minerals from the water that make it hard. In simple terms, the purpose of a water softener is to convert hard water into soft water.

As most of the areas are supplied with hard water, demand for water softeners is widespread. Now, you might think, why do we need to treat hard water? Is it harmful to our health? The answer is no, hard water is completely safe to drink. It neither affects the taste of the water nor the odor.

But, there are certain disadvantages to using hard water. Let’s have a look:

  • Hard water does not produce a good lather with soap. Hence, it’s less suitable for baths and showers.
  • The presence of calcium and magnesium ions in hard water also affects the performance of the washing powder. The color of the clothes is also affected and over time clothes will lose their shine and look faded.
  • Mineral deposits are left on showerheads, sinks, basins, and even washroom floors.
  • The hard water also leaves stains on utensils and cutlery.
  • The mineral sediment that’s present in the water can lead to clogging of the pipes.

How does a water softener work?

A water softener removes the hard minerals such as calcium and magnesium from the water, making it soft. This process of ion exchange is termed water softening. By eliminating hard minerals from your water, you can get rid of your house’s limescale and mineral deposits.

A water softener comprises the following components:

  1. The Mineral tank: This tall tank is where the main process takes place. The tank is filled with water through the mainline. The tank has a bed of microscopic beads that trap the hard minerals and eventually, soft water comes out of the tank and enters your pipes ready for use.
  2. The Control valve: The control valve controls and keeps the track of the amount of water that enters into and out of the mineral tank. The water flows through the mineral tank and the microscopic beads exchange the hard mineral ions with the soft sodium ions.
  3. The Brine tank: The microscopic beads need to be charged to work efficiently. For this, the brine tank is installed adjacent to the mineral tank. This is comparatively smaller in size and is filled with salty water. When the microscopic beads lose their efficiency, the salty water washes off the mineral ions from them. The sodium or potassium pellets are manually added to the brine tank.

Water softener regeneration

The process of the removal of mineral ions from the resin beads through brine water is called water softener regeneration. The microscopic beads are charged from time to time to remove the hard mineral ions from them. Since resin beads are very durable, installing a brine tank is a must, as it keeps them in good condition for even longer.

How to install a water softener?

Follow these simple and easy steps to install a water softener at your home:

  • Turn off the water supply from the main pipeline.
  • Turn off the water heater.
  • Place the water softener where you want to install it and position it correctly. Make sure you choose a point before the line enters the heater.
  • Turn on taps and faucets to ensure that no water is trapped in the pipelines.
  • Using a pipe cutter, cut into the main pipeline. Once the pipe is cut, attach an elbow fitting to it.
  • Connect the pipes securely and tighten them. Seal them using plumber’s tape.
  • For the drainage of the used brine solution, clamp the drain hose.
  • The last step is not mandatory but prevents any mishap. Connect the overflow tube, which prevents the brine tank from overflowing.

What does a water softener remove?

A water softener mainly removes calcium and magnesium, which are the main ingredients of hard water. These minerals are replaced by sodium or potassium. Other minerals responsible for the hardness of the water are also eliminated.

Is soft water suitable for drinking?

Many people think that since soft water contains sodium it is not safe for drinking. However, this is not true. The amount of sodium depends on how hard the water is. Approximately 2 milligrams of sodium ions are added to eliminate a milligram of hard mineral ions. This amount can be considered negligible, as it even does not meet the recommended daily sodium intake.


A water softener is an essential part of today’s life. It saves you from a lot of difficulties that you can face if you have hard water. Hard water is not harmful to your health, but it does affect your pipes, sinks, appliances, and other household items. Sometimes, skin and hair are also affected negatively by the hardness of the water.

A water softener is an easy way to soften your water. It does not require any high-cost maintenance and is not heavy on pocket.

We hope that this article has helped you to understand the workings and procedures of a water softener. Install a water softener and use soft water for a better lifestyle.

Jeremy Lee is a researcher and part-time blogger who has a passion to discover cutting-edge technologies related to water filtration. He knows the importance of purified water in our lives and started this blog aiming to provide the best product reviews, buying guides, and other useful information related to water. When not working, he loves to spend time with his beloved wife and two kids.