Water Softening

Water softening is a process for the removal of calcium and magnesium from the water. These minerals are the main cause of hardness.
With hard water, large quantities of soap are needed to produce a lather and an hard scale may form on cooking utensils or laundry basins. Hard, chalk-like formations may also coat the interior of pipes and water heaters.
Most water softeners operate on the ion exchange process, which causes the replacement of calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Schematic view of the water softening process.
The exchange takes place when hard water comes into contact with an exchange medium, usually a synthetic resin or gel zeolite.
These are insoluble granular materials that possess the property of ion exchange.
After a period of time, the exchange material must be regenerated.
The sodium ions are restored to the resin (or zeolite medium) by passing a salt (NaCl) or brine solution through the bed. However, this type of water softening process increases the sodium content of the water and may make it unsuitable for people on a low-sodium diet.


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