When water contains heavy minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, it is referred to as hard water. Not only is hard water not healthy for you to consume, but it can damage your pipes as well. Because hard water is so undesirable, it is common for households with hard water to use a water softener. A more expensive, yet more effective method of treating water is to install a water filtration system. These systems use reverse osmosis or multi-phase distillation in order to remove harmful sediments from the water. However, it can be very expensive to set up a whole-home water filter, so ordinary water softeners are the typical choice.
Water softeners work pretty simply. Most use salt as an integral part of the water softening process. The ions of calcium and magnesium are replaced with sodium ions from the salt through a process called ionization replacement. This requires the untreated water to flow though a filter that is made up of either tiny beads or zeolite, a chemical matrix. Both methods use beads that are covered in sodium ions. When the water flows over these sodium ions, the ions that contain calcium and magnesium are replaced with the sodium.
Sodium is preferable to other sediments because it does not corrode or otherwise ruin your pipes; it is also a much safer sediment for you to consume. Therefore, the two main problems that are associated with hard water are totally eliminated when a household water softener is used.