What exactly is Water Softener and Why do we need it?

Why do we need Water Softener

Water hardness is one of the major issue with common household in United States where more than 80 percent of the area is effected by the hard water. You most probably would be the one of those who are also effected by the water hardness.

So what exactly is the problem if you use hard water instead of Soft water?

If you are using hard water in your house for laundry or washing then you require more synthetic detergent or soap. The minerals present in the hard water in the form of Calcium and Magnesium makes sticky scum with the soap which subsequently makes it difficult for easy rinsing of things being washed.

When you wash the plates, glasses, car and even your hairs, you can feel the residuals of chalky scale behind that can eventually damage the things being washed with hard water. The same water you need to drink, wash your hand and take bath with it.

The same is the case for bigger industries where water is excessively being used for number of purposes. Hard water used in the Boilers or other equipment being used in industry would eventually results in excessive scaling in those machinery.

It may not be a serious danger to health once you drink that water but other drawbacks are manifold. Hard water used in your house water system would cause excessive deposit of unwanted scaling/mineral in the pipes and heating system accessories which could eventually results in blocking of water flow in your system.

Just think of quarter inch water heating element that you are using in your house to get hot water. If mineral are diposited on it due to water hardness then it may reduce the heating capability of the elements upto 50 %. That is surely going to consume more energy and eventually burden on your wallet.

Water Softener

So why we have water hardness in USA?

Water has the tendency to absorb the impurities and Water hardness is caused due to presence of excessive minerals commonly Calcium and Magnesium in the water. Since our earth contain lots of metal and impurities in its crust.

When water flows through rocks and soil, it generally picks up impurities and minerals due its property of being good solvent. Once these minerals are absorbed then water tends to keep that in its dissolved solution. Water hardness is defined by the percentage of Calcium and Magnesium dissolved in it. More the percentage, more is the water hardness.

How do we classify the hardness of Water?

As we already explained that water hardness is directly proportional to the amount of Calcium and Magnesium dissolved in the water. Generally we classify the water hardness by measuring the amount of Calcium Carbonate in terms of Milligrams per liter of water.

Percentage of Calcium Carbonate

  • Soft water: 0-60 mg/L
  • Moderately hard: 60-120 mg/L
  • Hard water: 120-180 mg/L
  • Very Hard Water: 180 & above mg/L

So what are the solutions to water hardness problems? Water Softener!!!

As we discussed earlier that Water hardness is primarily caused due to Calcium and Magnesium contents present in the water. Other than these minerals, You can also get ‘rotten egg’ smell in your water if your water source is well and Hydrogen Sulfide gas is present in your nearby area.

Other source of minerals in the water is ferrous iron that will cause rust stains in your tubs, toilet, sinks and other home appliances where this water is being used.

There are basically four types of water softener system that you will find in market with number of products. The purpose of all the water softeners is same with difference of operation. All you need is a system that should soften your water and save your water fittings from mineral deposits and energy loss. There are four types of water softener systems that can fulfill your requirements:

  1. Salt based water softener system
  2. Salt free water softener system
  3. Reverse Osmosis system
  4. Magnetic water softeners

Water hardness is a critical issue that we need to look into more seriously. It means we need to device some solution so that we can get soft water for our household use and for industries. Salt based Water Softener system is a complete system that is specifically made to resolve the issue of hardness in the water.

Water Softener reduces the amount of Calcium or Magnesium in the water by ion exchange. Sodium salt used in the Water Softener exchange ions with the calcium and Magnesium and replaces them.

Let go into little bit detail so that i can explain to you in layman language how these water softeners actually work. The process of converting hard water into soft water requires some chemistry but that is not that complicated to be understood by a normal person. If you understand the process of conversion then you will understand the importance of soft water also.

Salt based Water Softener system comprises three major components namely Mineral tank, brine tank and control valve.

Mineral Tank is where actually water softening process is taking place by removal of unwanted minerals like Calcium and Magnesium. Mineral tank consist of plastic bead or simple plastic that has a negative charge. While water is passing through the Mineral tank, the plastic bead attract the Calcium and Potassium which has positive charge. That’s how Calcium and Magnesium is removed from the water. Sound too easy..?

Brine tank consist mainly of High concentration of Potassium salt which is being mixed with the water coming from the Mineral tank.

Control Valve is gateway that control the flow of water.

Salt free water softener system works without the involvement of salt and other salt related products as it is evident from the name. The system uses Calcium Carbonate crystals in the system that helps remove the Calcium and Magnesium products from the Hard water. We will discuss all these types of Water softeners in details with advantages and disadvantages.

Reverse Osmosis System uses the technology of reversing the flow through permeable membrane where the high solution of salt water is passed through membrane to make it pure water on the other side. The high salt water solution is pushed through membrane with help of pump pressure which causes the salt content to be on one side of membrane and pure water is on the other side. The residual salt product is thrown away.

Magnetic Water Softener system works in a way that it cause the Calcium and Magnesium contents in the water to convert in the form of precipitate. The resulting precipitates remain as a small particles in the water and does not stick to the piping and tubing that causes mineral deposits and eventually restrictions to water flow and loss of energy while using water in the heating system. This type of softeners only offers a solution for limited time and not as permanent solution.

How to choose best water Softener?

Easy Water Softener

Once you decide to buy a water softener then it may seems a mammoth task for you to decide which water softener would preferably meet your requirement. Before you choose the type of water softener, you need to focus on few things that may help you decide the type of water softener that best suits you:

  1. Capacity of water softener to meet your requirements
  2. Budget you can allocate to buy the product
  3. Positive reviews of people about the product
  4. Reliability
  5. Spare support-ability
  6. Customer support
  7. More importantly, Type of water softeners as we discussed above

So now we come to the conclusion that water softeners are basically designed and produced in order to save your money. Whether that money is in terms of saving the life of your water system fittings by reducing the amount of scale deposits and eventually deterioration of your system.

Secondly scale deposits causing more energy required for heating the same amount of water and eventually causing more burden to your wallet. So now we would give you overview of all four types of water softener systems, their advantages, prices and views and reviews of people who are using it.

In next article we will introduce you with different Types of water softener and give you review about best water softener you should buy in 2014.