How does a water softener work?

In hard water areas the water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium, collected as the water passes through rocks in the ground on its way to your water treatment plant. Whilst these minerals are not bad for you inside your body, they cause many problems around the home and possibly with your skin.

A water softener removes the hardness from your water through a process called Ion exchange. 

Here's how it works:

Step One:

Water passes through a resin tank that contains millions of microscopic beads. The calcium and magnesium ions present in hard water are attracted to the beads and get stuck. A very low level of sodium is released into the water as part of the exchange. All the water that has passed through is now perfectly soft and cannot form limescale.

Step two:

Once the resin tank has collected as much hardness as possible (this is monitored by the water softener automatically) it needs to clean itself, this is called regeneration. The softener uses salt to produce a brine solution (salty water), which is stored in the bottom of the water softener. We like to describe this as the water softeners cleaning solution. During the regeneration process a small amount of brine solution is injected into the tank, this reverses the ion exchange process and recharges the beads with sodium ions.The water softener is now ready to soften the water again

This process is repeated again and again. The beads in the resin tank don’t need to be replaced and will last the lifetime of the water softener.

This is a very brief explanation on how a water softener works. Please refer to our Your Questions Answered page to find out more.

Have you got a question? We’d love to help you out.

At Shires Water we want to guide epeple when consdiering a water softer. Please pop your question in the box below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.