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The water we use and drink every day comes from the ground. If so, it carries minerals such as calcium and magnesium. When water contains such minerals, it is what we call hard water. Though hard water can be directly used for cert household activities, it also has its harmful effects. This is the reason why water is needed to be softened first before drinking through the use of water softeners. But how do water softeners work?
In order to use mineral water for certain household activities, the magnesium and calcium content must be removed. This can be done through reverse osmosis or filtration but this process has a high price cost. An alternative method would be using a water softener.
Once water is softened, laundry and bathing can be finished without the soapy feeling. When you use hard water for laundry and bathing, soap does not totally precipitate fully. Soap does not lather fully with hard water. With this, the dirt is not totally eliminated. Another disadvantage of hard water is because it contains calcium and magnesium, it creates a scale that when build up for a long time may be the cause of clogs on pipes and be the reason of shortened life of appliances.
Another disadvantage of hard water is its effects on cooking and boiling. Since more salt is present, the boiling point of water becomes higher and it will take more time to boil. Hence, more fuel is wasted when hard water is used for cooking.
How do water softeners work? Again, water comes from the ground and contains minerals. Calcium and magnesium are just one of them. Instead of water containing these two minerals, sodium ions are taken over. The process is done on the mineral tank. The mineral tank contains beds of plastic beads called the zeolite. This chemical matrix is loaded with sodium ions. Once the hard water passes through this bed of plastic beads, calcium and magnesium are removed from the water. Instead, the sodium ions are what sticks on the water.
However, once the zeolite becomes full of calcium and magnesium, it can no longer soften the water. It needs to be regenerated. This is done by immersing the bed of plastic beads on sodium ions. Calcium and magnesium contain negative charges while sodium ions have positive charges. With this, the two minerals are then removed from the water softener.