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A Look at Water Softeners Water softeners are used to treat hard water. It is important to understand the meaning of water hardness before we engage further in the discussion. Basically, hard water refers to “raw water” that has not undergone any form of artificial water treatment. The water contains a lot of magnesium and calcium, among other minerals. The minerals dissolve in the water when it runs through rocks containing calcium and magnesium deposits. Calcium and magnesium ions contained in hard water are eliminated by water softening systems. Sodium ions (Na+) in the water softeners replace the minerals. The action of soaps and detergents is hindered by the magnesium and calcium ions. Sodium, unlike magnesium and calcium, does not inhibit the effectiveness. Softened water effectively removes oils and dirt from dishes and clothes. This helps you get the slippery effect of soap during washing. You do not need to use a lot of detergent and soap when using a softener. Water softening systems are mostly installed at the point near where water gets into your house. You may cook using the water, drink it and use it to wash clothes or surfaces but not for irrigation. The unit has many porous plastic resins that contain molecules that bind ions which cause hardness in water. This means that the calcium and magnesium ions stick to the resins. Subsequently, the ions of sodium are released into the water to maintain an equilibrium in the electric fields of the resin. Ions of sodium and magnesium saturate the resins after some time. The resins are then renewed when the system utilizes concentrated saltwater to rinse them. The calcium and magnesium ions are displaced by the water containing high concentrates of sodium ions from the surface of the resins, which later remains with sodium ions only. The saltwater, containing the magnesium and calcium ions, is then drained from the system to allow for normal functioning of the water softener.
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There are other water softeners aside from the salt-based system, such as salt-free system, magnetic systems and reverse-osmosis water softening system. Magnetic fields are utilized in the magnetic-based system to reduce the effect of hard water There are display panels and several magnetic transmitters in the system that are placed around the pipes supplying water.
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The principle of crystallizing calcium and magnesium ions in water is what the salt-free softeners are based upon. They do not actually remove the minerals causing water hardness. The minerals are converted to crystals making it hard for them to stick to any surface. The last water softener on this list is the reverse-osmosis water softening system. In this system, hard water is passed through fine membranes which separate impurities from the water. For this unit to work effectively, you need to apply sufficient pressure. Among all these water softeners, the salt-based water softening system is the best.