How Waters Softeners Work Diagram?

When you use a water softener, you’re getting a treatment that will remove the hard minerals found in your city or well-water supply. This can include iron, calcium, and magnesium. The result is “soft” water that won’t cause stains on clothing or furniture, clog pipes, and appliances, or create limescale buildup in the shower head and dishwasher. 

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The process by which water softeners soften water is based on a simple chemistry principle called ion exchange, in which the negatively charged calcium and magnesium minerals are exchanged for positively charged sodium ions. These salt ions are introduced to your water through a series of resin beads that have been treated with a sodium brine solution. 

A water softener is a device that’s plumbed into your home’s water supply. During the softening cycle, it passes through a tank filled with thousands of tiny polystyrene (polymer) beads known as “resin” or “zeolite.” 

Each resin bead holds electrically charged ions. When water enters the tank, it flows through the beads and is attracted to the ions. 

Once the ions are exchanged, they pass through the next section of the tank which contains an even larger group of resin beads. The ion exchange process occurs again and again until the entire water supply is softened. 


When the resin bed has a large number of hardness minerals it is not able to continue softening your water. It needs to be resettled and recharged with fresh sodium ions. This regeneration cycle is initiated by a timer, a meter or manually, depending on the type of system you have installed. 

Regeneration involves rinsing away the hardness minerals that have built up on the resin beads and recharging the beads with sodium ions from a brine tank. Then the softener is ready to again perform its ion exchange cycle on your household’s water supply. 

How much regeneration is needed depends on the type of water softener you have and the salt used. Some systems are designed to regenerate only once a day, while others may need a few days or even weeks between regeneration cycles. 

Some ion exchange systems have an electric meter or timer that counts how many gallons of water are passed through the system to determine when regeneration is needed. Other systems monitor ion levels and trigger regeneration when they reach a preset level of hardness. 

In most cases, a small amount of salt will need to be added to the system’s tank before regeneration is started. This can be a cost-effective way to use less salt. 

Depending on the salt that’s added, regeneration can take up to 60 gallons of water and should be scheduled at least a few hours before your normal water usage begins. This is especially true if you’re using a system with a high-capacity reservoir of salt. 

Regeneration is a necessary part of your water-softening system’s maintenance plan. This process helps protect the resin beads from hardness ions and allows your system to operate more effectively and efficiently.