The Process of Hard Water Softening Explained

Water is essential for the survival of every living being. As pollution has increased rapidly it has caused water contamination on different levels. Oceans, seas, rivers, ponds, and wells all are affected due to it.

They all contain dissolved solids in form of minerals and salts. These molecules can be broken into ions. Positively charged ions are called Cations and negatively charged are Anions. Generally, Cations are calcium, magnesium, and iron that are present in water resources. This causes water hardening which is the root of a whitish cast, scaling and films like formations on pipes, pumps, bottles, heaters, utensils, and boilers.

In simple language, if you use hard water have you ever experienced that white cast on the bottom of steel buckets or machinery? That’s caused due to hard water which degrades and shortens the lifespan of goods. To solve this issue your need water softeners that alkalize water and remove unwanted Cations (Ca and Mg) from the water.

There are many rumors related to water softeners. Let’s clear them out by providing you a detailed process. This tutorial will explain you The Process of Hard Water Softening.

water softener

An Overview on Water Softening Process:

Begin with checking water hardness and if you find it above 7.0gpg then install a water softener. Make sure that you’ve read the latest
water softener reviews before buying any water softener from the market.

Ion Exchange Process:

This is the sole method by which water purifiers remove hardness of water. Ion exchange has media known as a resin which is charged with sodium ions. When the hard water comes in contact with the resin it releases sodium and the process instigates.

When this process starts it needs to be charged with water and salt mixture called brine. The exchange of Ca and Mg with sodium ions causes water softening. Now, you can consider the water to be soft.

ion exchange process

Regeneration and Service Cycle:

The service cycle is the normal water softening cycle in which water flows through the valve to the tank later through the resin to the collector. The hardness is removed as water passes through the resin. It moves through the valve so that water could be used for the household purpose.

The Backwash Cycle:

This is the first course of the regeneration cycle. Water flows through the valve, down to riser and goes out through collector. The water then flows via resin and water drains out. This expands the resin which washes impurities and contamination of water.

The Brine Draw Cycle:

Next is the Brine wash cycle. In this step brine (salt) is ejected from the top of the valve in the eductor. The brine flows through the resin collecting the Ca and Mg through sodium ions. This process is continued until water is stored in softener tank.

The Slow Rinse Cycle:

When the air check ball at the bottom of Brine tank seats then water flows to the eductor through softener tank and then via resin. The excess brine and resin are rinsed in this cycle. Water flows to the lower collector and exists from the drain.

The Fast Rinse Cycle:

Increased water flows to softener tank and flows through the resin. The increased flow of water causes resin and brine to rinse out hardness rapidly.

The Refill Cycle:

Refill cycle directs back the water to get in the brine tank. A gallon of water dissolves three pounds of salt. Water lifts air check ball and fills brine water to the marked level in the tank. Softener begins fast rinsing cycle simultaneously. After refill cycle water turns back to service cycle.

And this cycle continues in this way providing you soft water.

Kinds of Softeners:

There are numerous models that are available in the market these days but they usually work on two models.

  1. Demand control models
  2. Timed models

Demand control models have mechanical or electrical sensors, this helps in regenerating gallons of water softening. These are convenient and widely used.

A timed model consists of programmable time clocks that have predetermined schedule. It is good for the household purpose. However, water and energy wastage are on the higher side.


Irrespective of your chosen model it is mandatory to keep a check on it. They need to maintain for increased life. Brine water should be stored in the brine tank. Resins should be examined once in a while so that it does not clog the system.

Example: You clean filters or change them in a month or so as advised by the company. This is because mud and grim settles on the resin which needs to be removed. For this, you can even get a normal backwash done.

Sometimes bacteria and fungi reside in the resin that provides dirty and foul water. These beds need cleaning by chlorine and disinfectant.


Always read manual and check manufacturer’s instructions before performing any cleaning so that you don’t damage it.

Iron fouling is colorless but it clogs the resin as it gets oxidized through chlorine and air. There are many cleaners available for this issue.

Sometimes resins cannot be cleaned they need to be replaced. (This is mostly done by companies. A company’s engineer will visit your site to replace the water resin.) For this, you need to contact the manufacturer for replacement.


It depends on many factors like installation, service charge, size of unit and technology. The more advanced the pricier it will be. You can expect somewhere between five hundred to fifteen hundred dollars.

Advantages of Water Softening:

Due to advertising and mouth publicity water softening is often interpreted as a purifying, distillation or conditioning process. These misconceptions need to be cleared. Water softening purely means removal of water hardness in the form of minerals that is not hazardous for human health.


  • Scaling, spotting, white cast and films are removed.
  • It increases the lifespan of heaters and boilers and stops degradation.
  • Cleaning procedure of bathtubs, utensils etc are reduced.
  • It’s easy to install and use the equipment.
  • Faucets and pipes do not breakdown.


  • Potential risks of low sodium diets
  • Maintenance is another factor

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