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How Water Softener Units Work

Water softeners help to avoid spotted dishes and utensils, clogged water heaters, limescale on pipes, sinks, and other metals, and to increase the cleaning power of water. It's no wonder that so many people are interested in how water softeners work.

Most water softeners use a process called ion exchange to remove hard water-soluble minerals and produce clean water without any aftertaste. Some of the minerals that can be a problem in water are calcium, iron, sulfur, and magnesium. If you want to buy a water softener system, visit

A water softener contains many small plastic beads, or a matrix referred to as zeolite. These are covered in ions of sodium. When the water flows through the beads or zeolite, the unwanted minerals swap places with the sodium. This leaves more sodium in the water but removes other minerals. Eventually, the zeolite or beads have no more sodium ions and must be regenerated.

Regeneration is an important part of how water softeners work. This involves soaking the beads or zeolite in a sodium ion-containing solution. One very common solution used is common household salt – a strong brine is made to regenerate the softener. 

Once your water softener has regenerated, it's ready to get to work again. Some systems automatically regenerate, and only need to be refilled with salt. No matter which method your water softener uses, it's important to maintain it properly so that it will provide years of effective service.