What is the working mechanism of a water softener?

Water softeners were introduced the most important and biggest problems regarding water and that is hard water. There are some minerals like calcium and magnesium present in the water that is the cause of the hardness in the water.

They can cause many problems like the production of scale that covers the inside of the water-based appliances. This scale can reduce the lifespan of the appliances, making them less efficient and more prone to breaking down.

The question that comes to everyone’s mind is that how does a water softener work? I’m pretty sure that if you’re planning on buying a water softener, you’ll want to know all the details about its functioning and the process.

Once you know what you can expect from a water softener, how it converts hard water into saltwater, and how there are different types available then it would be extremely easy for you to buy a softener according to your water softening needs. You can also check best water softeners salt by clicking here


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What are the parts of a water softener?

Salt-based water softeners are the best and most effective among all the other water softening systems. Their effectiveness can also be proven scientifically. They mainly consist of three components:

  • A mineral tank (otherwise known as a resin tank)
  • A brine tank
  • A control valve

The real process of water softening takes place in the mineral tank. This tank is filled with beads known as resin, then the minerals that cause water hardness: magnesium and calcium are replaced with sodium ions, which make the water soft.

The brine tank is the place where the salt or sodium is stored. The sodium is mixed with water at the end of the tank so a brine solution is formed.

When it is time to regenerate in the mineral tank, the brine tank is used to flush the ions that cause hardness. It is important thing that you add more salt to the tank when the salt levels fall low.

In the end, the control valve is responsible for controlling how much water in and out of the brine tank and the mineral tank. It ensures the correct regeneration which makes the system more efficient.


Water softening process

The water softening process starts when the hard water is put into the water softener, directly from the mainline. The water then passes into the mineral tank and the real softening starts to happen. The resin beads present in the tank are negatively charged with the sodium ion.

When the resin makes contact with the hardness causing positively charged minerals like magnesium and calcium, it attracts the minerals and then traps them.

This will prevent the minerals from passing through the system along with water. When this takes place, the resin beads release the sodium ions, which then replace these hardness-causing minerals.

Is an average water softener capable of removing iron from the water? Yes, the water softeners are designed to remove or reduce the hardness in water by attracting and trapping any positively charged ions.

As iron positively charged and also present in its ionic form, the water softeners can easily remove them. Iron is considered quite an annoying contaminant as it can cause stains on appliances. It can also affect the taste and flavor of the water.

The water softeners treat iron just the same as magnesium and calcium.


Regeneration process

When the resin in the tank is saturated with calcium and magnesium ions, the whole will require to regenerate, and that is when the role of the brine tank starts.

When the mineral tank needs backwashing, the tank will be filled with sodium brine solution. This process will remove the minerals and restore the beads of resin to a negative charge, this is called recharging. It ensures that the resin is ready to be reused.

The most important step is to keep the brine tank topped up with sodium (salt) so the quantity of sodium in your brine solution is always enough.

It is necessary to keep the removal of hard water minerals going on through ion exchange. You can easily get the salt for a water softener online, companies offer great deals on bulk-buying this stuff.

Without the control valve, the system wouldn’t know when to start regenerating. This technology is responsible for water usage and also determines the time.

When it is okay to flush out the hardness-saturated resin and then replace it with negatively charged resin. After this, the resin is removed and flushed down a drain that is connected to your home’s wastewater system.

Finally, the system rinses itself out with water, before the softening process can start taking place again.


Additional considerations

Multiple other things need to be considered before buying a water softener or when you are trying to understand the working of a water softener. Here’s what you need to know:


Salt-based vs salt-free

In this guide, we have solely talked about salt-based water softeners. They are also known as ion exchange softeners and are said to be the most effective.

But there are several other types of water softeners that are gaining popularity nowadays. One of the types among them is the salt-free water softener.

As the name suggests, this water softener uses a salt-free process for the softening of water. It is a better option for those people who follow a low-sodium diet, or people who don’t prefer adding salt into their drinking water.


Single vs dual tank

The majority of water softeners available nowadays are twin tanks or dual tanks, which means that the system consists of two tanks.

This structure makes water softening way more efficient because one tank fulfills the responsibility of regeneration and the other one keeps the water softening process going.

If you need a water softener that is capable of working 24 hours a day, then you should go for a dual tank softener.

The best thing about a dual tank water softener is that it regenerates whenever needed, rather than regenerating on a timer like a single tank softener.

A timer-based regeneration is not efficient as the system will not regenerate when it is needed. There might still be some free resin beads present in the mineral tank when the scheduled regeneration takes place.



This question is commonly asked that whether a water softener is necessary or not. Well, the answer is that it depends.

If you want to keep your appliances clean, increase their lifespan, and want to spare yourself from all that cleaning then you should invest in a water softener. It also improves the water’s ability to lather and prevents your dishware from staining.

One thing I can say for sure is that you’ll not regret buying a water softener instead you’ll appreciate all the benefits that it can give you.

Getting a water softener and having a clean water supply means that you’ll have lots of clean water without spending too much money or any extra maintenance.

This can be good for the people who are planning to live in their house for a long time. Water softeners are worth their price because of their efficiency.

You can also look into the deals offered by companies, you can get a water softener for a little price and you’ll also have to do little to no maintenance. Spending money on a water softener is worthwhile because of the benefits offered by it.


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