The Science Behind Water Softeners
The Acronym STEM is well known in today’s culture but the science behind water softeners is not. For those unaware, this acronym refers to science, technology, engineering, and math. Water softener systems use each of these areas of study. If you have ever piqued an interest in purchasing a system, today, we will educate you on how these systems work. By the end of this blog, we hope that you have a greater understanding and pursuit of this product.
Science: Sodium Ion Exchange
Calcium and Magnesium are the hard minerals that create water hardness. These minerals cause damage and build up within pipes, faucets, and appliances in the home. Hard water is why it may take extra soap and a longer time to get a lather when you wash your hair, body, or hands. Hard water is also responsible for slow boiling water. And finally, the build-up in your dishwasher, sink faucets, and bathtubs. These build-ups of mineral deposits are tough to clean. You will require more soap and chemicals to wash dishes, floors, and other surfaces in the home.
Water softeners work to eliminate these hard minerals that wreak havoc. The science behind this process is sodium ion exchange. Remember the law of attraction- opposites attract!
The hard water molecules then bind with positively charged calcium and magnesium ions.
The water molecules travel through the softener tank that has sodium (Na) in its media. The media is usually resin, and we will explain more of this in the engineering category. The resin is negatively charged and attracts to the positively charged minerals.
When this exchange occurs, the pure water molecules flow through the media. Meaning, the water molecules consist of Hydrogen and Oxygen. There is no calcium or Magnesium bound to the H2O molecules. Instead, they are attached to the negatively charged resin and flushed out of your system.
Technology: Application For Everyday Need
The definition of technology: “the application of scientific knowledge for a practical purpose.”
The technology of water softeners began to fill a need. That need was to eliminate the dangers and annoyances of hard water. Water treatment can date back to ancient Egypt in 1500 BC. While water softening did not begin until the mid-1800s, it is still as vital. Both of these water technologies have been through innovations through the years. But the basic principles still stand and are in use today.
Technology is ever-changing with innovations in what media to use in resin tanks to new material in brine tanks. The world of science and technology is always evolving, and we are proud to be in and evolving with the industry.
Engineering: The Anatomy Of The Softener
As aforementioned, we will now discuss the water softener system in its basic anatomy. The internal structures of the softener are complex. So we will focus on the basic anatomy.
The mineral tank is the large cylinder that brings in household water. The resin media is working within the mineral tank as well. The resin is the media that contains the negatively charged sodium ions. The ion exchange described earlier takes place within this mineral tank.
The control valve determines the amount of water that comes into the mineral tank at once. The control valve will calculate the amount of water that has run through the tank. It will signal for regeneration of the mineral tank once a certain amount of water runs.
When the control valve signals for regeneration, that calls the brine tank to action. The brine tank holds the sodium, also known as water softener salts. The control valve sends a rush of water through the brine tank to create sodium-rich water. This water travels through the mineral tank and recharges the resin media. Resin flushes the hard mineral ions that are present from prior ion exchanges.
The fill tube connects the brine tank and mineral tank. When the brine tank needs to fill again for regeneration, the water flows through the fill tube. The water also flows here when brine water needs to regenerate the resin in the mineral tank.
Math: Sizing and Hardness Calculations
The water softening process uses math in many ways. The top areas include the sizing of the tank and hardness calculations.
Sizing Of The Tank
Sizing of the tank means calculating the size of the water softener tank you need. This calculation is to generate enough softened water for your home. These calculations use your hard water level and your daily water consumption level.
The company in which you purchase your softener should be able to perform a hardness test. At Crystal Clear Water, we perform city and well water testing.
Your water utility bill should give the amount of water that your household uses per month. Take three months of statements and average out the amount. If you are unsure of the daily water usage, multiply the number of household residents by 75 gallons per day. The result reflects the average daily water consumption of most households.
To determine your daily softener requirement follow the formula.
Hardness level X your daily water consumption = Daily Softener Requirement.
These calculations will give you the information needed to purchase the proper tank.
These tests result in mg/L (milligrams per liter) or GPG (grains per gallon). The numbers reflect the amount of Calcium and Magnesium that is present in your water daily.
City water plants usually can provide water hardness levels upon request. However, many companies can test for hardness in conjunction with water quality. Crystal Clear has this capability.
Now you know science, technology, engineering, and math that go into water softeners. We hope this blog has enlightened you to the centuries worth of benefits of water softening. Contact our store with any other questions you may have or to set up an appointment for water testing. Shop online or visit our showroom and we’ll help you find the products that best fit your needs.