A water softener is a system designed to convert hard water that comes from municipal supplies into soft water. Hardness is generally caused by the presence of dissolved minerals in water; these minerals mainly include calcium and magnesium. Softening of water is carried out by a process called ion exchange. The calcium and magnesium ions are exchanged for sodium and potassium ions and the resultant water though salty is soft. However, there are two types of hardness, one is the temporary hardness which can be got rid of by just boiling the water and the other is the more permanent hardness that can only be removed by a water softener device.
Water is considered hard if it contains more than 0 to 1 grains per gallon. Water with more than 10 grains per gallon is considered as very hard. Hardness can be tested in laboratories or with the help of kits that are available in the market for less than $10.
Softening water is very essential as hard water results in scale formation on appliances, in boiler coils, shower heads and in steam irons; dishwashers and kitchen and bathroom pipes are also affected by formation of scale. When the scale formed is high you notice a reduced flow of water and you also see brownish residue in tubs and your soap consumption begins to go up. Glass and metal utensils like plates, glasses begin to have spots and even the tiles and clothes do not appear white. You will also notice that in spite of using a good shampoo there is never enough lather and your hair does not seem soft after using loads of shampoo.
Until recently only one type of water softener was available and it used salts to soften the water. Salts like sodium are used to attract the calcium and magnesium particles and ions to the resin beads and are replaced by sodium ions. However, this resulted in more salt in your water and the resultant backwash has calcium and magnesium that is released in the environment via the drainage system.
However a new system that is more advanced treats water and softens it without the use of salts or other corrosive chemicals. It uses ceramic or alloys to neutralize the calcium and magnesium ions and thus there is no need for backwashing, regeneration and no electricity is used in this process. The calcium and magnesium is attracted to ceramic media and attach themselves to it thus we get crystal clear soft water.
The resultant soft water feels good on the skin and hair. Your hair shines and you need less water to wash it clean. Clothes too appear cleaner and white clothes look whiter. Due to the softness bathroom equipments like glasses, taps, faucets, showerheads, and other metallic objects look neat. Soft water also ensures that you consume less electricity for heating it as the boiler coils no longer have scale formation.
The national sanitation foundation or NSF certifies water softeners and water filters. These water softeners are generally certified under the NSF/ANSI 44 after thorough testing. The NSF is a recognized internationally and is non profit organization. Before certification they ensure that the water meets certain stringent standards and is good for human use and consumption. The softeners are tested on several parameters like operating pressure, regeneration accuracy, efficiency, rinse effectiveness and pressure drop during operation. Only when all the parameters are met satisfactorily are water softeners certified.
If you as a home owner or a business owner are looking for a water treatment options then make sure that you have a certified salt free water softener.