How Do Water Softeners Work?By John Davis - July 15, 2015
There are two different kinds of water softeners on the market today. They are based on two different filtration systems, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. New softeners work without sodium. These softeners use a chemical process to change the molecular properties of the hardness chemicals in the water.
On the other hand, traditional water softeners work with sodium to eliminate hardness chemicals from the water.
Let’s start by describing how a sodium based system works.
Sodium Based Systems
Sodium based water softeners are the more popular of the two systems. That’s because they are a tested technology that has been proven time and time again to offer superior water filtration.
In a sodium system water enters into a tank filled with a softening media. That media is a resin covered with small molecules of sodium. As the water passes through this resin, hardness chemicals (calcium and magnesium) are captured. These chemicals get stuck in the resin and sodium is released in their place.
The water then flows out of the tank and into your house. While this process is very effective at removing unwanted chemicals, it does have a drawback. After being filtered, your water now has an increased sodium content. This means that this traditional sodium based filtration system is not ideal for people on a low sodium diet.
Sodium Free Systems
If you want to soften your water without adding sodium, you may want to look into water softeners that work without sodium. These filters are often called water conditioners or descalers.
The reason that sodium free water softeners go by a different name is that they don’t actually soften water. That is, they don’t actually remove hardness chemicals from it. Instead, they filter water through a media that changes the molecular structure of the magnesium and calcium. This change in structure makes it impossible for those hardness chemicals to stick to surfaces such as your dishes, skin, or clothes.
Since water conditioners or descalers don’t actually remove hardness chemicals, the content of calcium and magnesium in your water will remain the same. However, there are a couple of benefits of using this kind of system.
A water conditioner works without sodium which means there won’t be any additional salt in your water. Additionally, these systems don’t depend on electricity. They are very simple and will work for years with only minimal maintenance.
Another benefit is that unlike sodium based softeners, you won’t have to fill up a conditioner’s tank with sodium at regular intervals. Water conditioners clean themselves and require little maintenance.
This brings us to the question, which system is best for you?
Choosing the Right System
If a slight increase in sodium intake is not a problem for you and your family, a sodium based water softener is the best choice. These systems are the most effective at removing hardness chemicals from the water. You’ll notice your clothes will remain brighter, you’ll use less soap, and the quality of your skin will increase.
On the other hand, if you have hard water and are concerned about additional salt in your diet, then a water conditioner is the better option. It’s not as effective as conditioner, but it won’t add any unwanted sodium to your diet. A sodium free system also requires less maintenance and runs without electricity.
Which system is best for your home or business depends on your individual needs, and whether a slight increase in your daily salt intake is acceptable.
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