Water Softening Category
Water softening is a water purification method that treats water that has high concentrations of calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+) ions.
Hardness in water is defined as concentrations of multivalent cations. Multivalent cations are cations (metal ions) that have a charge greater than 1+.
Calcium and magnesium fall into this group.
Calcium and magnesium ions enter a water supply by leaching from minerals such as limestone within an aquifer.
Water Softening Methods
There are two main water softening methods, salt-free water softening, and salt-based water softening.
Salt-Based Water Softening
Salt-based water softening systems use the ion exchange method to make water soft.
Ion exchange is a chemical process in which dissolved ions are exchanged with other ions with a similar charge (salt or potassium).
Ions are atoms or molecules containing electrons that are not equal to the total number of protons.
Salt-Free Water Softening
Salt-free water softening systems has calcium carbonate crystal structures on the surface of the water softening media.
The hard water minerals are attracted to these structures. Hard water minerals will stick to these structures forming crystals. As water moves across the media, the crystal structures grow in size and break off. These crystals will move through your plumbing without sticking to it.
Once the water and crystals move out of your faucets, some of the crystals will accumulate on surfaces such as your faucets and glassware.
These deposits are easier to clean up compared to soap scum.