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water softener Utah

How Does a Utah Water Softener Work?

How Does a Utah Water Softener Work?

Utah is the hard water capital of the world and one of the most common questions when it comes to hard or soft water is, “How does a water softener work?”  Here are the answers to your questions:

“Hardness” in water is simply Calcium and Magnesium that is dissolved into the water.  Calcium and Magnesium are also positively charged ions as well.  This dissolved Calcium and Magnesium will react with soaps to produces soap scum and dry itchy skin.  They will also build up in plumbing and all water using appliances such as water heaters, clothes washers, dishwashers and toilets.  Unsightly toilet rings are simply Calcium and Magnesium that has solidified to the toilet bowl at the surface level of the water.  Water “hardness” or Calcium and Magnesium is also the white buildup you see on showerheads and the underside of kitchen sink faucets as well.  Again, it is also the white “film” or water spots seen on dishes when they come out of the dishwasher and the white “mess” that is commonly seen at the water dispenser on black or stainless steel refrigerators.

Softening water is simply the process of removing the “hardness” or the Calcium and Magnesium from the water.  The cheapest and most efficient way to accomplish this is through a process called ion exchange or, in other words, the process performed by your typical salt or potassium based water softener.  Salt is NaCl2 or Sodium Chloride with a positive charge of 2.  Sodium is also a positively charged ion as well.

In summary all a water softener does is exchange the positively charged Calcium and Magnesium ions the water for the positively charged Sodium ion in Salt.  Sodium does not react with soaps to produce soap scum and it does not build up in appliances, plumbing or fixtures which greatly preserves a home and will also improve the quality of life within the home immensely.

In detail, a water softener is filled mostly with cation resin beads which will be negatively charged and loaded with Sodium.  As your water flows through these resin beads, the positively charged ions of Calcium and Magnesium, or “hardness” will be attracted to the negatively charged resin beads just like opposite sides of a magnet attract to each other.  At the same time the resin beads collect the hardness they also release the Sodium from the resin beads into the water supply of your home.  Ion exchange has just happened.  The resin bead exchanged the Sodium and collected the water hardness.  After so many gallons of water run through the resin bed within the softener, the resin bed will become exhausted and unable to collect any more Calcium or Magnesium from your water.  The next process is to regenerate the water softener by flooding the resin bed with salt water or brine. Your water softener will reverse the flow of water through the water softener which will expand the resin bed and allow the brine water to saturate the resin beads.  Just as before, the resin beads will now exchange the Calcium and the Magnesium or the water hardness it has collected from your water supply for the Sodium part of salt.  The only difference in this part of cycle is that the Calcium and Magnesium will be diverted down the drain and no into your home.  So the water softener will first exchange the Sodium for water hardness and send the “soft” water into your home and then when the resin bed is exhausted it will exchange the water hardness for Sodium in a regeneration cycle and send the hardness down the drain.  When this regeneration cycle happens the salt molecule of Sodium Chloride breaks apart and the Chloride is diverted down the drain with the water hardness.

Some people may choose to use Potassium Chloride in their water softener instead of salt or Sodium Chloride.  The process is the same and works just the same only Potassium will be exchanged with the water hardness instead of Sodium.  Potassium simply provides a healthy drinkable soft water whereas Salt does not.

If you have any further questions of how we can help you, please feel free to give us a call


Sam Nielsen

Royal Water Systems


Quality Drinking Water Options in Utah

Quality Drinking Water Options in Utah

Some of the most common questions that come my way have to do with quality drinking water in Utah.  We realize that the best thing we can do at Royal Water Systems it to educate our customers on the options that are available to them and let them decide what type of system is the best for them but first of all it should be known that all of the systems are excellent systems, it just boils down to a matter of personal preference and choice.


You:  So many Utah families have no drinking water filter, or so they think they have no filter.  What these families do not realize is that they themselves are the filters!  Yes, it’s true – their body is what removes the impurities in their water.  What is not realized very much is that the incoming water to our homes can change at any moment and it’s no wonder that these families perhaps deal with a lot of sickness?  One question that every person should ask themselves is: “If someone took a noodle and put it into the water supply in your city and that noodle were to flow through all the pipes of the city and come out of your kitchen faucet, would you eat the noodle?”  If your answer to yourself were “No!” then why would you want to drink the water?

Refrigerator Filters:  Many families use refrigerator filters for their drinking water.  While it is true that any filter is better than no filter it should be known that refrigerator filters are the most basic type of filtration out there.  Refrigerator filters are simply about a fistful of granular activated carbon (GAC) that is sold to you for a huge price.  These filters are basically good for one thing – removing chlorine.  TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) readings from your refrigerator filter and your kitchen sink will be nearly the same.  Ice will usually be cloudy and usually there is still a white film, water spots and quite a mess right at the water / ice dispenser which continually has to be cleaned up.

Reverse Osmosis (RO):  This is probably the next most common drinking water purification system that is bought and installed in a Utah home.  RO is quite simply purified water.  Aquafina bottled water that is bought in nearly every store or gas station out there in the Western United States is simply RO water. A typical RO install will be underneath the kitchen sink unless the plumbing of the home can allow it to be installed in the basement.  A water line is usually run from the RO to the kitchen sink and through a dedicated faucet.  If the plumbing allows another line can be run to the refrigerator as well.  Some of the pros of an RO system are that at the refrigerator you will see crystal clear ice cubes, purified drinking water and no white film, mess or water spots on the refrigerator or in the water dispensing area.  RO Water is excellent for general cleaning in the home and the meals you cook will taste better if cooked in pure water.  RO Water can be used in irons and pretty much anywhere distilled water is used. Probably the two biggest cons of RO systems are the room they take up underneath the kitchen sink and also the fact the RO systems wash the impurities in the water to the drain meaning that an RO system will waste water to make pure water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.  Another argument seems to be that; “RO water is not good for you because it has nothing in it.  It removes the good as well as the bad.”  This is a true statement, but it also needs to be taken into perspective as well, meaning that if you can raise your water quality from, lets say a -10 to 0, isn’t that a good thing?  One more argument seems to be the maintenance or filter changes required for a RO system.  In most homes, if the RO System can be plumbed to the refrigerator there is usually next to NO EXTRA COST at all in owning a RO System because the money you put into refrigerator filters every six months is usually about the same money you would put into keeping the filters changed in a RO system once per year and you will get far better water as well.

Ultra Filtration (UF):  UF is something that as a little newer to the marker than RO and is also a very common system the we install for people to meet their drinking water needs.  UF will filter down to the sub-micron level meaning that it will remove sediment, bacteria, cysts, turbidity, E. Coli, Typhoid, Cryptosporidium, Insecticides, herbicides, phenols and chlorine.  What UF does not remove from water is TDS meaning that it will leave in healthy minerals such as Calcium and Magnesium, which is water hardness.  UF systems take up far less room than an RO system does due to the fact that there is no storage tank needed.  It will also give you and endless supply of healthy drinking water as long as the filters are changed.


Ultraviolet Light (UV):  UV kills over 99% of all bacteria.  It can be used as a point-of-use or a point-of-entry system meaning you can simply treat your drinking water or treat the water to the whole house.  Many of our customers look for a single system that will treat all the water in their home and give them drinking water as well.  The best way to accomplish this is to install a whole house filter to remove chlorine and a host of other contaminants found in water, soften the water with potassium, and then process the water through a UV disinfection system.

If you’d like more information on drinking water or would like to explore what options are available to you in a little more depth, please feel free to contact us at Royal Water Systems, Utah’s water treatment specialists!

Happy Drinking!

- Sam Nielsen

Royal Water Systems