Sunday, May 21, 2006

How a Water Softener Works

The water to be treated passes through the water softener's bed of the resin;

* negatively-charged resins absorb and bind metal ions, which are always positively charged. These resins initially contain sodium ions, which are displaced into the water stream by the more strongly-attracted di-positive ions of magnesium and calcium.

As the water passes through both kinds of resin, the hardness ions replace the sodium which are released into the water. For most purposes, the low levels of salt in the treated water are innocuous. However, because of the increase in sodium concentration, some people believe water softened in this way is not suitable for regular consumption.


As these resins become converted to their Ca2+ form they gradually lose their effectiveness and must be regenerated. This is accomplished by passing a concentrated brine solution though them, causing the above processes to be reversed. Here lies one of the drawbacks of this system: most of the salt employed in the regeneration process gets flushed out of the system and may be released into the soil or drainage— something that can have damaging consequences to the environment, especially in arid regions. Because of this, many jurisdications prohibit such release, and require users to dispose of the spent brine at an approved site or to use a commercial service company.

Problems with hard water

Waters that have been in contact with limestone and other sediments tend to acquire dissolved ions, mainly of calcium Ca2+ and magnesium Mg2+. The positive electrical charges of these ions are balanced by the presence of anions (negative ions), of which bicarbonate HCO3– and carbonate CO32– are the most important. These ions have their origins in carbon dioxide which is present in all waters exposed to the atmosphere and also in groundwaters. Water softeners heldissipatete this.

These "hardness ions" cause two major kinds of problems:

* The metal ions react with soaps and calcium sensitive detergents), hindering their ability to lather properly and forming an unsightly precipitate— the familiar scum or "bathtub ring". Presence of "hardness ions" also inhibits the cleaning effect of detergent formulations.
* More seriously, calcium and magnesium carbonates tend to precipitate out as adherent solids on the surfaces of pipes and especially on the hot heat exchanger surfaces of boilers. The resulting scale buildup can restrict water flow in pipes. In boilers, the deposits act as thermal insulation that impedes the flow of heat into the water; this not only reduces heating efficiency, but allows the metal to overheat which, in a pressurized system, can lead to catastrophic failure.

Conventional water-softening devices intended for household use depend on an ion-exchange resin in which "hardness" ions trade places with sodium that are electrostatically bound to the anionic functional groups of the polymeric resin . A class of minerals known as zeolites also exhibit ion-exchange properties and were widely used in earlier water softeners.

Water Softener - Resource

A Review of Popular Water Softener Products

With so many types and brands of water softeners to choose from, how does a consumer decide what is right for their needs? How does one compare water softeners and find the one that will work the best for them? When it comes to buying water softeners, being an educated consumer is the best policy. Explore different types and manufacturers. Compare prices. Other things to consider are what type of environment the water softener will be set up in, size, installation, construction of the unit, convenience, and water softener rating which indicates the amount of minerals that can be removed before the unit needs to be recharged.

Kinetico water softeners are favored for their convenience; however, they are expensive in terms of the unit’s cost as well as the price of upkeep. They recharge based on volume, eliminating the need for a schedule. Kinetico water softeners are also non-electric units.

Culligan services residential customers, offering purchase and rental options for their water softeners. They also offer a salt delivery service with the purchase of a water softener. Culligan is favored for its durability, but some have trouble with salt refills and strength of some of the components. Culligan is also said to be good at removing iron from the water supply.

Kenmore, in addition to being known for its air filtration and other household appliances, offers a range of water softeners, from the very basic to the heavy-duty models. The Kenmore systems also offer extras like the ability to filter out larger particles and added settings that make the units more efficient. Kenmore contends that the cost of everyday household upkeep can be cut in half with the use of a water softener system.

General Electric, or GE, founded by none other than Thomas Edison, offers a diverse line of products, including water softeners. The business is run on the principles, ""imagine, solve, build, and lead."" GE offers water softeners small enough to accommodate a single-person household all the way up to a unit that will serve a household of four or more people. The GE water softeners include a technology called SmartSoft, which works through a low-capacity transformer to save energy, minimize salt loss, and gauge water softening needs.

There are numerous water softener vendors out there who sell both ionic exchange and magnetic water softening systems. To find the best water softeners is a daunting task, but a good start might be to visit your local hardware store. You can also get information from people around you such as neighbors or coworkers.

Water Softeners Info provides detailed information about magnetic and ionic exchange water softeners, home water softener systems and kits, product reviews and comparisons, water softener salt, and more. Water Softeners Info is the sister site of Dishwashers Web.

Water Softener - Resource

What are Water Softeners?

Soap scum. Stiff clothing. Clogged pipes. No matter what you try, it's hard to get your surfaces clean. Scale builds up. Dishes come out of the dishwasher with spots on them. All of these problems occur because of hard water, a frustrating but fixable situation.

The term, ""hard water,"" refers to water with a high mineral content. The most common minerals that cause water hardness are calcium and magnesium. As water is absorbed into the ground, the minerals are pulled from the earth and eventually end up in a household's water supply. Hard water can clog household plumbing.

Water hardness, or how much of a mineral is present in water, is measured in grains per gallon (GPG), parts per million (PPM), or milligrams per liter (MG/L). Water up to 1 GPG is considered soft, water; from 1 to 3.5 GPG is considered moderate, and water 3.5 to 7 GPG is hard water. Kits used to test water hardness can be purchased at a pool supplier or from a water softener dealer.

Many water softeners plug right into the household water supply. Ionic exchange water softeners consist of negatively charged plastic beads, a brine tank, and a regenerating system with a timer or other monitoring device. Sodium or potassium chloride is added to the brine tank when regeneration is necessary. Home water softeners range in price from $400 to $1,200, and the salt ranges from $5 to $7 per bag. Price depends on type, size, and type of softening agent. Alternatively, magnetic water softeners consist of only 2 magnets attached to the outside or inside of water pipes.

Water softeners work by replacing ions of the minerals that cause hardness with ""softer"" ions. Water is filtered through charged plastic beads and the magnesium or calcium ions are replaced with sodium or potassium ions. In the case of magnetic water softeners, magnetic energy causes chemical changes in the minerals.

Using water softeners poses no health risks, except for those who are on sodium-restricted diets. Keep bottled water on hand for cooking and consumption, or use potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride to soften. Potassium chloride is more expensive than sodium chloride. There are also no health risks associated with choosing not to soften water.

Water Softeners Info provides detailed information about magnetic and ionic exchange water softeners, home water softener systems and kits, product reviews and comparisons, water softener salt, and more. Water Softeners Info is the sister site of Dishwashers Web.

Water Softener

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Water Softener Resource