How Does A Water Softener Work?

Want to avoid the buildup left on the surfaces of your pipes and appliances? That’s exactly what water softeners do! The buildup is left behind due to the presence of various hard minerals in hard water.

To convert your hard water into soft water, water softeners do the job perfectly!

Although a water softener may seem pricey and intimidating, most homeowners don’t know that you can end up with one suited for you. It isn’t necessary to get an expensive water softener, since they’re various softeners on the market, all equipped with getting the job done.

Mentioned below are the different technologies softeners use and how they work.

water softener with installation

Salt-Based Softener


Salt-based water softeners use a salt-based technology.

It turns hard water into soft water by processing hard minerals such as magnesium and chlorine through sodium ions. Magnesium and chlorine ions carry naturally positive ions that are present in hard water. The ion exchange happens through the resin attached to the unit.

The resin exchanges the hardness ions for sodium ions. Therefore, the resin bed holds hard ions in exchange for releasing sodium ions into the water.

However, salt-based softeners go through a regeneration process that occurs in the middle of the night.

The resin bed has a certain capacity to hold onto hard water minerals. For the softener to continue working effectively, it initiates regeneration. This is done by renewing the resin with a brine or saltwater solution every couple of days.

Having a more concentrated solution of sodium ions on the resin allows them to take over the magnesium and calcium ions.

This makes the resin concentrated with sodium ions once again so the water softener can start its entire ionic exchange process to pump out soft water again.

The overly salty water and the expelled magnesium and calcium ions are expelled via the drain so the system resumes normal operation.

However, resin beds last a long period but the maintenance factor comes in if you have a brine tank. Brine tanks need cleansing to remove the salt and hard minerals left behind due to the regeneration cycle.

Salt-Free Water Softener


As stated above, salt-based softeners process hard water through an ion-exchange system. Salt-free systems don’t use this method since there’s no sodium involved!

These softeners use a technology that enables them to neutralize hard water minerals instead of exchanging them.

Salt-free water softeners primarily use TAC technology. This technology does not eliminate hard water minerals instead neutralizes them by turning them into their crystallized forms.

Neutralizing these minerals still prevents any scaly or soapy buildup on your appliances and pipes.

Simultaneously, this is an awesome alternative if you want to avoid a large influx of sodium in your house’s water source. Unlike, salt-based systems, salt-free softeners, don’t require regeneration.

Since the media or resin doesn’t need to be renewed through regeneration, this allows salt-free softeners to have an endless capacity. 

In this way, these softeners are also environment friendly since they provide water with a low ion density.

Since they also prevent any sort of existing scaling and buildup, salt-free softeners help your appliances, pipes, and other water systems last longer.

Salt-free softeners have essentially no maintenance requirements.

If needed, the maintenance factor chips in if you have a sediment pre-filter. Sediment pre-filters need to be changed between 6 to 9 months.

They also help you save money and water since they require no electricity to function as well as don’t produce any wastewater.

Electronic Descaler


This water softening solution requires no plumbing of any sort but rather works through electricity. Electronic water descalers do not rely on salt or crystallizing to process hard water to soft water.

These devices use electricity to send out electromagnetic waves around water as it flows into your home. These waves create a magnetic field that causes hard water molecules to get in a motion of influx.

This subsequently suspends them on the water’s surface, which prevents these molecules from sticking to pipes, appliances, or any other surface in contact with water.

The device is installed wherever the main point of entry for your water source is. The wires or cables of the device are wrapped around the pipes acting as coils to generate magnetic fields when turned on.

In this way, electronic descalers are efficient in stopping the deposits left behind by scaling.

They are a good alternative to reduce and eliminate the buildup left because of hard water. These devices do not require maintenance either.

All they require to function is electricity!

Shower Filter for Hard Water

Eco friendly shower head with filter on a white background

If you don’t take care of the hard water problem it will adversely affect your skin and hair. That’s right! Not only do hard minerals cause scaling but affect your skin and hair unfavorably. This is where shower filters become useful.

Shower filters work similarly to any filtration process in that it uses multiple layers to get rid of pollutants, hard water minerals, and sediments in the water.

In doing so it sifts and clears out any chemicals as well present in natural hard water that may affect your skin and hair.

The presence of chlorine in hard water is useful in clearing out any bacteria or fungi. However, the few remnants of chlorine left behind are not good for the skin.

For this reason, there’s also a vitamin C shower filter option that dechlorinates your tap water whilst adding important nutrients to the system.

The presence of these and many other chemicals in hard water cause your skin to become dry and irritant. There are various options to choose from depending on the kind of filter you would like to soften your hard water.


In conclusion, we’ve presented you with the many alternatives to water softener systems and the way they function. We are sure all details provided above will help you make the right decision for yourself!