Soft water contains negligible levels of naturally occurring calcium and magnesium salts. Historically, the name comes from the laundering trade, where the water in some places allows you to easily raise a lather, but in other places, it is much harder to do so.
When hard water is boiled, the dissolved calcium and magnesium salts are forced to solidify in a process called "precipitation". These precipitated salts form a very thin layer on the metal surfaces, and these thin layers build up over time to make a strong, stratified coating which:
- Insulates the heater element and reduces its efficiency, which increases the cost of heating the water
- Increases pumping costs, because the bore of the water pipes gets narrower as the scale builds up
- Causes hot-spots on the heating element, often leading to catastrophic failure
Please visit our water softeners page to find out more.
What does a Soft Water Softener do?
The most effective way to generate softwater from most water supplies is to fit an "ion exchange" water softener.
A softener unit replaces the scale-forming calcium and magnesium "hardness" with sodium, which has no such properties. The unit contains a special form of ion exchange resin, which exchanges "soft" sodium ions for "hard" calcium and magnesium ions so the water is no longer scale-forming.
This means the water can then be safely boiled without creating precipitated hardness salts and all those problems associated with hard water.
Once the softener resin has been exhausted, it can be regenerated cheaply and easily using a strong brine solution. During regeneration, the accumulated hardness salts are rinsed harmlessly to drain and the softener is ready to start again.
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