Common Methods of Residential Water Softening

January 31, 2019
Treatment of Water

One of the few elements you have little control over in your home is the type of water you get. Hard water might be the primary cause of the frequent breakdown of household appliances, such as kettles, water heaters, coffee makers, washing machines, and dishwashers. It also hardly lathers, dries out your skin, and pales your clothes. Thankfully, there are now solutions to soften the water that flows into your home.

Water softening involves the removal of the minerals that cause hardness, including magnesium and calcium and sometimes, manganese and iron. The water softener you will come across in a shop in Ogden runs on various principles to remove these ions and replace them with cations, such as potassium and sodium salts.

Here are the water softening principles used in different appliances:

Ion Exchange

Most domestic water softeners are salt-based ion exchange softeners. They work by exchanging magnesium and calcium for potassium and calcium ions using resin beads, which coat the water softener’s tank. Ion exchange water softeners also get rid of ferrous ions that are found in water drawn from deep wells and groundwater sources. The systems require periodic regeneration to flush out the magnesium and calcium ions.

Ion exchange water softeners are also prone to damage from chlorine ions. To minimize this damage, the resin tank includes 10% cross-link beads rather than 8% beads.

Water Treatment and Softening

Nucleation Assisted Crystallization

This method works on the principle that ceramic microscopic polymer beads suspended in an active medium have sites that act as anchors for magnesium and calcium ions. These ions form clusters of nanocrystals, which break away when they grow to a specific size and float away in water. These clusters are insoluble and stable, and will, therefore, not attach to water containers and appliances.

Nucleation assisted crystallization is a relatively new water softening method and might be costly. However, it has low maintenance requirements, is easy to install, and is eco-friendly.

Reverse Osmosis

In this softening method, hard water is forced through a series of fine filters under pressure to remove all impurities, including those at a molecular level. The resultant water is like distilled water with no dissolved organic solids or chemicals.

Reverse osmosis water softeners are installed on a faucet; therefore, your home’s appliances will still get hard water. Moreover, they will also get rid of beneficial minerals and result in considerable water wastage.


This is a salt-free water softening method. The method works by conditioning magnesium and calcium ions so that they will not mix with other chemicals to form lime scale. The primary difference between chelation and ion exchange water softeners is that the former only alters ions rather than getting rid of them. That said, the ions are still present in the water you consume and will confer different health benefits. Chelation also has minimal water wastage and its equipment is easy to install and maintain.

The wrong choice of a water softening method for your home might be one of the most expensive mistakes you would make. That said, you should get a professional opinion before choosing one from the above. There might be different tests carried out to assess the ions in your water before recommending the right water softening method.

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