The Science Behind Water Softeners

water drops

What Is Hard Water?

Water is considered “hard” when it contains a high amount of calcium, magnesium and other minerals. These can be absorbed by groundwater as it travels through pipes and surrounding soil. Water hardness is measured in terms of grains per gallon (GPG); one GPG is equal to one grain (64.8 milligrams) of calcium carbonate dissolved in one U.S. gallon of water. It translates into 1 part in 70,000 parts of water or roughly 14 parts per million (PPM). The U.S. Department of the Interior established the standardized description of water hardness levels:

  • Soft water contains less than 1.0 GPG.
  • Slightly Hard water contains 1.0 – 3.5 GPG.
  • Moderately Hard water contains 3.5 – 7.0 GPG.
  • Hard water contains 7.0 – 10.5 GPG.
  • Very Hard water contains over 10.5 GOG.

What’s Inside a Water Softener?

Water softeners are mechanical appliances that usually plug in near your home’s main water supply system. Inside the softener is a mineral tank which contains small plastic beads, commonly referred to as resin or zeolite. The beads hold a negative electrical charge, meaning they attract positively charged ions such as those found in calcium, magnesium, and sodium.

The Softening Process

As hard water flows through your water softening system, it comes into contact with the plastic resin. The resin is normally covered in sodium ions but, as the water passes over the resin and into your home, calcium and magnesium ions knock the sodium loose and stick to the resin instead. The sodium ions are then released into the water to maintain a balance of electrical charge. The sodium ion water is soft and is then carried into your home for regular use.

Over time the water softener resin loses all of its sodium ions and is covered in calcium or magnesium. The system renews its supply every few days by rinsing the resin with a heavily concentrated solution of salt water. The excess water, full of calcium and magnesium ions, is then flushed down the drain before the softener resumes normal operations.

Benefits of Soft Water

Hard water isn’t bad for your health but can cause a number of complications for you and your home over time. When doing laundry with hard water the calcium bonds to the detergent, forming a coagulated soap scum. Because less soap is dissolved into your clothing, more is required to keep everything clean. Similarly, hard water can leave stains on your dishes and a residue on your skin and shower doors when showering.

Over time, hard water can also cause severe damage to your home’s pipes, faucets, and fixtures. The calcium and magnesium deposits can quickly build up and create blockages that result in dangerously high pressure. Water softeners are necessary to keep you comfortable and your home working properly!

Quality Water in Maricopa and Pinal County

Kinetico Quality Water is your local source for home and commercial water treatment. We understand how difficult it can be to stay hydrated in the Valley of the Sun and how important it is to conserve such a precious resource. Kinetico systems are some of the most efficient available, using less water than traditional water softeners and no electricity since they work off the moving pressure of the water. Contact us today for more information or a free water analysis.

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