Water softeners are specific ion exchangers that are designed to remove ions, which are positively charged. Softeners mainly remove calcium and magnesium ions. Calcium and magnesium are often referred to as 'hardness minerals'. Softeners are sometimes even applied to remove iron. The softening devices are able to remove up to five milligrams per litre (5 mg/L) of dissolved iron. Softeners can operate automatic, semi-automatic, or manual. Each type is rated on the amount of hardness it can remove before regeneration is necessary. A water softener collects hardness minerals within its conditioning tank and from time to time flushes them away to drain.
Water softening system
A good water softener will last many years. Softeners that were supplied in the 1980's may still work, and many need little maintenance, besides filling them with salt occasionally. The presence of hardness salts (calcium and magnesium ions) in the make up water supplies to boilers, cooling and process waters can have a serious impact on their performance. Loss of heat transfer in boilers and poor cooling in re-circulating cooling systems results in an increase in both energy and water consumption, and an increase in operating costs. A standard home water softener can perform a dual function removing both hardness and "dissolved" iron (fe) from well water.
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