How Water Softeners Work


As a homeowner or renter, chances are you’ve heard a lot about hard and soft water. These are definitions that describe the content of hard minerals in a given sample of water, with “hard” water referring to samples with higher quantities of these minerals and “soft” water referring to samples with lower (or absent) quantities.

At Kinetico, we offer the best water softener solutions around to turn tough, hard water that may aggravate the skin and cause several other issues into soft, clean water that’s both healthier and more comfortable for basic bodily use. Let’s look into the details of how a water softener works once you’ve had one installed in your home or business.

Hard Water Definitions and Statistics

The thresholds for hard and soft water are measured using the levels of hard water minerals in milligrams per liter of water. For water to be considered soft, it must contain less than 17.1 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of hard water minerals – anything above is considered some form of hard water.

Hard water varies in its definitions, however. Water in the 120 mg/L range is moderately hard, but becomes fully hard at about 180 mg/L. Anything above 180 is considered “very hard” water.

The prevalence of hard water in the United States is greater than many are aware of. Roughly 85 percent of US households are in hard water areas.

Ion Exchange

A water softener works using a process called ion exchange. The water softener contains resin beads that hold ion of either sodium or potassium – when hard water is passed through it, this resin captures dissolved rock ion (the hard particles we’re trying to eliminate). The resin then uses the sodium or potassium as a substitute, exchanging it for the dissolved rock ion.


When all the resin in the water softener has picked up dissolved rock ions, it is now saturated. From here, the saturated softener is “recharged” with a saline rinse, which washes dissolved rock ions down a given drain and starts the process over again. The resin resets with fresh sodium or potassium, and is ready to soften water once again.

For more on how water softeners work, or to schedule water softener installation, speak to the pros at Kinetico today.

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