Water Filtration Units » Softeners
STRATA Whole House Softener
Connects to the water entering the home. Will reduce the scale in the water throughout the house. Many sizes to choose from.
INTRODUCTION: A water softener is not complicated if you understand the basic principles of operation. Understanding comes from the knowledge. The following pertinent facts will give you additional knowledge to better understand a water softener.
All softeners soften water in the same way regardless of who the manufacturer is. There are no "secrets" in this business. Any "true" claim made for its product by one manufacturer, holds true for all others. Always remember, however, that any product is only as good as the backup and assistance it's manufacturer will provide.
The minerals in the water that make hard water are Calcium (Ca++) and Magnesium (Mg++). They form a curd with soap and scale in piping, water heaters, pots and pans or in whatever the hard water comes in contact with. Other minerals in the water may make the water objectionable, such as iron, chlorides, etc., but they do not make the water "HARD" per the usual definition. Only Calcium and Magnesium make the water "HARD" per the normal definition when discussing general water hardness.
Not all water can be softened with the use of a conventional water softener and if the hardness of the water exceeds 85 GPG (Grains Per Gallon) it cannot be softened to a zero-soft degree which, by definition, is water reduced in hardness to 1.0 GPG or lower. Attempting to soften water with a hardness exceeding 85 GPG will reduce the hardness approximately 95% only. If the water contains high amounts of chlorides or sulphates, or is very high in iron, a water softener alone will be ineffective. "Untreatable" water is rare, however, for other methods of conditioning water may be applicable. Strata offers a complete water conditioning service, which can give you assistance for any water problem a softener alone cannot handle.
Calcium and Magnesium are removed from the water by a process known as positive ion exchange. The "positive" means a plus (+) charge as opposed to a "negative" (-) charge. The process could also be called ion substitution, for "substitution" is what occurs. Sodium (Na+) ions, which are soft and do not form a curd with soap or a hard scale in piping, water heaters, etc., are substituted or exchanged for the Calcium and Magnesium as the water passed through the softener tank.
The softening media is commonly called resin. The proper name is Polystyrene Resin. The media is often referred to as mineral and the softener tank which contains it, a mineral tank. All water softening minerals are basically the same regardless of who the manufacturer is. The resin has the ability to attract to its positive (+) charges. The reason it does so is because in its manufacture, it itself inherits a negative (-) charge. It is a law of nature that unlike charges attract, i.e. a negative will attract to it a positive and vice versa.
A softener tank is filled approximately 3/4 full with resin beads. Even the smallest softener will contain hundreds of thousands of resin beads. Each bead is a negative in nature and can be charged or regenerated with positive-charged ions. In a softener, the resin is charged with positive "soft" Sodium ions by passing through the softener tank a rich Sodium Chloride (common salt) brine solution which contains the "soft" Sodium ion (Na+). The plus (positive) charges of the Sodium are attracted to the negative-charged resin beads and remain "stored" upon the beads ready for the softener to deliver soft water when hard water containing Calcium (Ca++) and Magnesium (Mg++) are passed through the mineral bed. When this happens, "Positive" ion exchange occurs.
One should note that Sodium (Na+) has only one positive charge where Calcium (Ca++) and Magnesium (Mg++) both have two positive charges. When the hard water passes through the resin beads, which have been loaded or charged up with Sodium (Na+) from the salt brine solution, the attraction of the negative resin bend for the two positive charges in each ion of Calcium and Magnesium is greater than for the one positive Sodium ion. As a result, they are attracted to the bead and the Sodium ion is pushed off, displaced and takes the place of the Calcium and Magnesium ions originally in the water supply in the ratio of two Sodium ions for each ion of Calcium and Magnesium. In effect, the Sodium is "exchanged" for the Calcium and Magnesium in the water supply with the Calcium and Magnesium remaining on the resin beads and the Sodium ions taking their place in the water flowing through and out of the softener tank which, as a result of the "exchange" process, has become "soft" water.
It can now be readily understood that a softener will continue to give soft water only so long as there are sufficient Sodium ions remaining on the resin beads to provide two Sodium ions for every ion of Calcium and Magnesium in the hard water flowing through the softener mineral (storehouse) tank. When the supply of Sodium ions has been depleted, the "storehouse"must be refilled.
Restocking the mineral tank with a new supply of Sodium ions is accomplished by flowing through the mineral tank a rich solution of common salt brine (Sodium Chloride) which effects regeneration, ion exchange process, only in reverse. The salt brine solution is automatically prepared and stored in a separate tank normally called the brine tank. When the rich brine solution flows through the resin beads, which are now depleted of Sodium ions and saturated with the trapped Calcium and Magnesium ions which are no longer wanted, the "Positive Ion Exchange" process reoccurs.
In the regeneration process, the reason the Sodium with the single positive charge is attracted to the negative resin bead and the Calcium and Magnesium are given up, is due to the overwhelming multitude of Sodium ions present in the rich brine solution. When so many millions (and when we speak of ions you must realize there are actually millions involved in even the smallest softener) are close to the negative resin bead, the bead cannot resist this attraction and in the process throws off the double positive Calcium and Magnesium ions as it gathers to itself the single positive-charged Sodium ions. The regeneration process could be likened to an over-powering-of-the-enemy situation. The enemy in this instance are the entrapped Calcium and Magnesium ions and the "overwhelming power", the rich brine solution containing the multitude of Sodium ions. One single resin bead will attract numerous positive ions, not just one per bead.
More brine with the Sodium ions is passed through the softener mineral bed than can ever be exchanged. This is to assure the reverse positive ion exchange will occur as explained. The excess brine is rinsed away to a drain facility and with it, the unwanted Calcium and Magnesium ions that were given up by the resin bead in the regeneration process. At the completion of the regeneration process the mineral bed is regenerated – the storehouse is restocked with Sodium ions – and the softener is ready to produce soft water once again. The frequency of this regeneration process is determined, therefore, by the capacity of the softener, the hardness of the water and the water usage.
In most softeners, the brine solution is transferred from the brine tank to the softener mineral tank by the vacuum created when water is directed to flow through the "Injector" located within the control valve. This is "the" most important function of the control valve. If the softener fails to draw brine from the brine tank into the mineral tank there can be no soft water. When you understand the function of salt in the regeneration of a water softener and how the salt brine solution is introduced into the softener tank, you will have a good knowledge regarding how a water softener operates.
When adding a softener, a NG Reverse Osmosis unit should also be installed under the kitchen sink for drinking water. The "RO" will remove most of the sodium and make the water pure for drinking and cooking. Your house then has the best water possible, including the reduction of scale in your washer, dishwasher, hot water heater, shower and toilets.