The short answer is that they don’t. Even though you think they might.

Indeed, every time you carry a heavy bag of salt into your property to replenish the brine tank in your water softener, it’s easy to imagine that loads of salt must get flushed out into your household water supply.

But that’s not how water softeners work.

Plain and simply, water softeners don’t put salt into your water system. What they do is replace the calcium and magnesium in your water (the reason for the water hardness and limescale build up) with sodium. The process by which this happens is known as ion exchange.

The hard water, as it comes into your water softener from the mains, is full of calcium and magnesium ions that are positively charged. Your water softener is full of resin beads which are negatively charged and attract/react with the calcium and magnesium ions.

The negatively charged resin beads become “coated” in the positively charged calcium and magnesium ions.

To prevent a build up of magnesium and calcium, which could make the water softener unit inefficient, salt – which dissolves into brine – is introduced to regenerate the softener (effectively to clean off the resin beads). This keeps everything ticking over smoothly.

During the regeneration process, salt (sodium chloride) is broken down into its basic components – sodium and chlorine ions. The chlorine ions attach themselves to the calcium and magnesium ions and are all flushed down the drain.

The residual sodium, which remains attached to the resin beads, passes into the softened water in an ionic state, which is not salt. That’s how salt-free, soft water keeps flowing through your home.

For your information, sodium is necessary for the regulation of blood and body fluids, transmission of nerve impulses, heart activity and certain metabolic functions. Salt, on the other hand, is dangerous to the body in higher doses.

To find out more about the benefits of having a water softener in your home check out this website and our informative knowledge centre which tackles all manner of questions you may have.

For all installation and service enquiries, please contact SJ Water Softeners, the number one local supplier for West Sussex (and parts of Hampshire and Surrey) on 01243 607494 or via