Understanding soft water science
Water flows through the veins of your home, but hard water could be poisoning the system. Good water quality is fundamental to home maintenance. Think about how your shower, sink, washing machine and dishwasher would operate without proper care. Hard water contains minerals that affect soap’s ability to lather. It also creates buildup, which affects the way your most common household appliances work. Many homeowners experience this nuisance and are confused by the differences between hard and soft water.
Minerals in Hard Water
Hard water contains more dissolved minerals, such as calcium, magnesium and manganese. This might sound like the latest diet craze featuring water with added minerals, but hard water can have negative effects and on your home. Minerals dissolve in groundwater and end up in your home. In your home, heavy mineral concentration can lead to clogged pipes. Limescale from the hard water can build up and create blockages. Hard water is also known to leave unsightly stains on bathroom surfaces.
Common solutions to address hard water are filtration, descaling and water softeners. Filters can improve water taste, but will not fix the water that flows through your showers and washing machines. It’s basically a cosmetic fix that masks the bigger issue. Descaling is a process that removes buildup in water heaters, which can lead to costly damage. The descaling technique doesn’t improve water quality either. Water softeners are a popular solution to address the overall water quality in your home and prevent buildup.
Water softeners can remove some of the excess dissolved minerals from your water. They are an economic and effective way to tackle this common household problem. The basic science behind the water softening process involves good sodium ions switching with the bad calcium and magnesium ions in hard water.
Little beads, also called resin or zeolite, are found in water softener tanks and carry a negative charge. This negative charge attracts the sodium ions, which have a positive charge. Calcium and magnesium ions in the hard water are also positively charged. When the beads come in contact with hard water, sodium ions switch with the calcium and magnesium ions. This happens because calcium and magnesium ions carry a stronger positive charge than sodium ions, so they are more attracted to the negatively charged beads. Sodium ions leave a minimal trace of salt in the water. The sodium ions in water will not damage pipes or react with soap.
When the calcium and magnesium ions replace all the sodium ions, the softener can no longer soften the water. A regeneration cycle soaks the softener beads in sodium chloride to recharge the beads with sodium. After the soak is complete, all the sodium chloride, calcium ions and magnesium ions are washed down the drain. Your water softener will then resume the process.
Water softeners improve your home’s water quality and reduce overall maintenance. Having soft water can prevent damage and buildup in common household appliances and on bathroom surfaces. Homeowners looking for a solution to hard water headaches know that water softeners are proven to effectively treat your water, not just mask the problem. Pipelines throughout your home are flowing to provide water for showering, drinking and washing. Don’t let hard water interfere with buildups and blockages.