Why Does My Water Softener Need Salt? How the System Works

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While not all homes require a water softening system, it’s a fairly common solution to the problem of hard water.

Hard water is not a serious health risk, but it can be a real nuisance as dissolved calcium and magnesium deposits stain your plumbing, pots, crockery, and more. 

This is where a water softening system comes in handy. But how does the salt in this system help to tackle the problem of hard water and is it healthy? Learn more in this blog. 

How Salt Helps to ”Soften” Hard Water 

Every time you empty softener salt into the refill brine tank, you may have wondered how much salt is actually going into the water you use. And yes, it’s a valid question. 

Sure, there is the option of a salt free water softener. But water softening salt poses no harm to your family because it does not add salt to the water you use in your home.

Instead, the salt is broken down into sodium, which is used to soften your water. So, what is the point of all that sodium? 

In short, sodium is used to remove all the ”hard” chemicals from the water you use to drink, bathe, cook and clean with. 

Hard water is packed with minerals. This occurs when water percolates through deposits of limestone, gypsum, and chalk. The water picks up deposits of calcium, magnesium, sulfates, and more. 

In order to remove the calcium and magnesium buildup, salt is the answer. 

The Ion Exchange Process

Your water softener system filters the water which undergoes an ion exchange to eliminate mineral deposit buildup. 

This ion exchange takes place inside the cylinder tank which is typically filled with media — such as resin. This media is negatively charged, while hard water deposits are positively charged. Opposites attract, which means that the ions bind together to clean out the water. 

Once the media is full of hard minerals, it must recharge. In order to do that, it uses the sodium, or salt in your media tank. The softener regeneration process usually takes place when you sleep so that you can wake up to fresh water each day!

How Much Sodium is Really in Your Water?

If you find yourself worrying about excessive amounts of salt in your water — don’t. Sodium does not contribute to any of the hard water problems you may have. It also does not have any effect on your overall health, either. 

This is because the amount of sodium used depends on how hard your water is in the first place. However, even if your local water is notably hard, sodium amounts in your water are minimal. 

As reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), softened water falls into the FDA’s very low sodium range. This means it’s categorized as having little to no effect on your health. 

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A water softening system is designed so that you don’t have to fret about excessive salt levels in your water. Instead, you should eat, drink, and bathe with the peace-of-mind that your water is clean and safe. 

If you’re interested in topics on home improvement or DIY, check out the rest of this site for more. We also offer articles on self-improvement, business, health and fitness — the list goes on! Explore at your leisure.  

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