Water softening is usually accomplished by exchanging the minerals in the water with sodium. This process is known as an ion exchange and it typically uses a mineral tank filled with beads made from polystyrene. These beads carry a negative charge, and since the calcium and magnesium in the hard water carry positive charges, the minerals will cling to the beads as the water goes through the tank. Most water softeners have an automatic regenerating system, flushing and then recharging the system on a regular schedule. During the regeneration process, soft water usually isn’t available for use.
If you have seen the signs of hard water and then visited your local hardware store looking for a solution, you were probably introduced to several water treatment products that were designed to give you soft water. Some of these may provide you with temporary results, but for long-term water softening, you should have a whole-house system installed by professional plumbers. This way, you can be certain the process is safe and effective, and that every faucet in your house is producing the kind of water you and your family want.