Guide on Types of Water Softeners | Ion Exchange, Magnetic, Salt based & Salt free

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The complete and most common solution for dealing with the hard water which has a high level of dissolved minerals is house water softener. There are different types of water softeners present in the market to choose from. To help you to make a decision take a look at an overview of different types of water softener systems which are available readily.

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There are typically four different types of water softeners available. The four types of water softeners are ion exchange, reverse osmosis, salt-free and magnetic.

Different Types of Water softeners

There are four different types of water softeners. They are ion exchange water softener, salt-free water softener, reverse osmosis water softener, and magnetic water softener.

Ion exchange softeners

Ion exchange softeners will exchange the ions in the water with potassium or sodium ions. This removes the ions which cause the hardness in the water and can help to prolong the use of dishwasher and washing machine. This type of softener is not suitable for drinking water due to high sodium levels.

Ion exchange is a well-known type of softener system that is been available for a long time.ion exchange softener replaces the magnesium and calcium in water with potassium salt and hydrogen. Of the three options, salt is the perhaps best-known water softener regeneration solution. An ion exchange softener contains resin tank and brine tank.

As the water goes through the resin bed, the hard mineral ions in water exchanged with sodium ions. When the resin bed saturated with hard minerals, the system goes through the regeneration cycle that flushes the brine solution through the resin bed, exchanges the hard minerals with sodium ions. The hard minerals are then washed away the drain, leaving the resin to start the process again.

More on Ion exchange softeners

After the system treats the water, the water enters through household supply as soft water. The softened water may contain either the sodium or potassium depending on which softening process is used. Sodium is less expensive and readily available than potassium, but there is little concern about the additional intake of sodium in some people. Another concern is, the environment will get affected if a large amount of salt released into the wastewater during the regeneration process. The use of potassium is a more environmentally friendly option and it removes all the health issues associated with salt based systems.

An extra consideration with ion exchange water softener system is whether a single tank system or multi-tank system is more appropriate. The drawback of the single tank system is that there is possible downtime during the regeneration cycle. Most of the systems are set to regenerate overnight when the need for softened water is lower, but if water is used during the regeneration cycle then the water will not get softened. If you prefer to have softened water available all the time during the day then use the multi-tank system.

Magnetic softener

Magnetic softeners use magnets in and around the water pipes so that to alter the water in magnetic fields. The main disadvantage is that the water will return to the hard stage after leaving the magnetic field within 48 hours.

Reverse osmosis softeners: reverse osmosis softeners use pressure in order to remove the impurities through a semi-permeable membrane. This removes up to 98 % of impurities from water.  

Salt Based water softeners

Water softener generally means removing the hardness causing minerals such as calcium and magnesium from the water through the process called ion exchange. Salt-based water softener contains a resin bed which filters the water by exchanging the hardness minerals with sodium particles. When the resin bed reaches the saturation point, the regeneration cycle starts where the series of flushes purge the minerals and flush them out of the system. The sodium particle gets replenished and the system will continue to soften the water.

The Pros:

  • A salt-based water softener will make sure that the minerals like magnesium and calcium completely removed before you turn on the faucet.
  • This will help you to stop dealing with the annoying limescale build ups that stick to everything like glue or gum.
  • The water-based appliances at your home will long last.
  • A salt-based water softener will make you feel smooth and even you don’t find it too hard when you are in the shower.

The Cons:

  • It is more expensive.
  • This type of system requires more maintenance because of the way it works.
  • You will also find some extra expenses while using this type of softener because you have to buy salt.

Salt-free water softeners

Salt-free softeners don’t use any minerals or chemicals to soften the water instead they use nanotechnology to exchange the structure of molecules in water from scale building to non-scale building. The water flows through the filtering media and the molecules get restructured as they flow from the tank.

Salt-free water softener system resolves some of the major drawbacks of the ion exchange system. As there is no chemical use you are not introducing any chemicals in the drinking water or releasing them in wastewater system also. They require less maintenance as they don’t require adding or purchasing the salt on regular basis. The system does not waste water as there is no regeneration cycle process. Even you don’t feel the water as slippery like salt softened water does. And these systems don’t even require electricity.

The Pros:

  • They are usually less expensive than salt based counterparts.
  • If you don’t like using the chemicals to soften the water then salt-free conditioner is the best option for you.
  • This type of water softener will neutralize the contaminants like magnesium and calcium so they don’t get stick to the surfaces instead of removing from water.
  • They are very easy to install.
  • Maintenance cost of salt-free systems is next to zero that uses electricity or magnets to soften the water.

 The Cons:

  • Sometimes this system not considered as effective as a salt based system. There may be a chance of having limescale build up in the water which means our body still exposed to them.
  • The salt-based system shows much quicker result because the filtration starts at the source itself that is when you start using it whereas salt-free conditioners use electricity which takes a longer time to show the result.

Get more info on Types of Water Softeners by visiting our Water Softener Reviews website.

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