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7305 N. University, Peoria, IL 61614 | P.O. Box 3058 Peoria, IL 61612
Peoria 309.688.1300 | Pekin 309.353.1300 |


What is hard water?

When water is referred to as 'hard' this means, that it contains more minerals than ordinary water. These are the minerals calcium and magnesium. The degree of hardness of the water increases, when as calcium and magnesium dissolves.

What is water softening?

When water contains a significant amount of calcium and magnesium, it is called hard water. Hard water is known to clog pipes and to complicate soap and detergent dissolving in water. Water softening is the process that removes the ions that cause the water to be hard.

Do no sodium systems really work?

At Aqua Systems we have specialized in using proven technology since 1959. However, these "new" systems do not provide soft water, and the scientific proof of their effectiveness is absent.

Read the following links to learn more:

Penn State Study
Water Quality Association Task Force Report
Canadian Water Quality Association Statement
Fact, Fiction or Fantasy
Compare Water Softeners versus Electronic Water Conditioners

Why are water softeners used?

Water softening is an important process, because the hardness of water is reduced during this process. When water is hard, it can clog pipes and soap will dissolve in it less easily. Water softening can prevent these negative effects. Hard water causes a higher risk of lime scale deposits in household water systems. Due to this lime scale build-up, pipes are blocked, the efficiency of a hot water heater is reduced, and there can be damaging effects on washing machines and other fixtures in the home. Water softening will expand the life span of washing machines, and the life span of pipelines. It also contributes to the improved working, and longer lifespan of solar heating systems, air conditioning units and many other water-based applications.

What does a water softener do?

Softeners mainly remove calcium and magnesium ions. Calcium and magnesium are often referred to as 'hardness minerals'. A good softener can sometimes be aggressive with iron up to 5 ppm. 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.

How long does a water softener last?

A good water softener will last many years. 

Which types of salt are sold for application in a water softener?

For water softening, three types of salt are generally sold:
- Rock salt
- Solar salt
- Evaporated salt

Rock salt as a mineral occurs naturally in the ground. It is obtained from underground salt deposits by traditional mining methods. It contains between 98% and 99% percent sodium chloride. 

Solar salt as a natural product is obtained mainly through evaporation of seawater. It contains 85% sodium chloride. It is usually sold in crystal form. Sometimes it is also sold in pellets.

Evaporated salt is obtained through mining underground salt deposits of dissolving salt. The moisture is then evaporated, using energy from natural gas or coal. Evaporated salt contains between 99.6 and 99.99% sodium chloride.

Should we use rock salt, evaporated salt or solar salt in a water softener?

Rock salt contains a lot of matter that is not water-soluble. As a result, the softening reservoirs have to be cleaned much more regularly, when rock salt is used. Rock salt is cheaper than evaporated salt and solar salt, but reservoir cleaning may take up a lot of your time and energy.

Solar salt contains a bit more water-insoluble matter than evaporated salt. When one makes a decision about which salt to use, consideration should be given to how much salt is used, how often the softener needs cleanout, and the softener design. If salt usage is low, the products could be used interchangeably.

If salt usage is high, insoluble salts will build up faster when using solar salt. Additionally, the reservoir will need more frequent cleaning. In that case evaporated salt is recommended.

Is it harmful to mix different kinds of salt in a water softener?  

It is generally not harmful to mix salts in a water softener, but there are types of softeners that are designed for specific water softening products. When using alternative products, these softeners will not function well.

Mixing evaporated salt with rock salt is not recommended, as this could clog the softening reservoir. It is recommended that you allow your unit to go empty of one type of salt before adding another to avoid the occurrence of any problems. 

How often should one add salt to a softener?

Salt is used by the softener during regeneration of the softener. The more often a softener is regenerated, the more often salt needs to be added.To guarantee a satisfactory production of soft water, the salt level should be kept at least half-full at all times.

How come water sometimes does not become softer when salt is added?

Before salt starts working in a water softener it needs a little residence time within the reservoir, since the salt is dissolving slowly. When one immediately starts regeneration after adding salt to the reservoir, the water softener may not work according to standards.

When the water softening does not take place it could also indicate softener malfunction, or a problem with the salt that is applied.

How much does a water softener cost?

Some softeners are more efficient than others and as a result the prices may differ. There are time operated softeners and meter-controlled softeners available.

Costs of a water softener greatly depend upon the type of water softener but also upon the hardness of the water that needs softening and the water usage. When the water is very hard and it is used heavily, the costs of softening will rise.

The costs of water softeners are usually far outweighed by the benefits and cost savings obtained, through using softened water.

How much does a water softener cost during operation?

Generally the only cost of running a softener is the salt that is needed for it to regenerate.

Is softened water safe to drink?

Softened water still contains all the natural minerals that we need. It is only deprived of its calcium and magnesium contents, and some sodium is added during the softening process. That is why in most cases, softened water is perfectly safe to drink.

How much sodium does one absorb from softened water?

On average, less than 3% sodium is found in a gallon of water. The amount of sodium ingested is minimal compared to the total daily intake of many sodium-rich foods.

Will softening drinking water deprive it of essential minerals?

Softening will not deprive water of its essential minerals. Softening only deprives drinking water of minerals that cause the water to be hard, such as calcium, magnesium and iron.

When does a softener resin need replacement?

When the water does not become soft enough, one should first consider problems with the salt that is used, or mechanical malfunctions of softener components. When these elements are not the cause of the unsatisfactory water softening, it may be time to replace the softener resin, or perhaps even the entire softener.

Does a softener brine tank need cleaning?

Usually it is not necessary to clean out a brine tank, unless the salt product being used is high in water-insoluble matter, or there is a serious malfunction of some sort.

If there is a build-up of insoluble matter in the resin, the reservoir should be cleaned out to prevent softener malfunction.

What is 'mushing' and why should we avoid it?

When loosely compacted salt pellets or cube-style salt is used in a resin, it may form tiny crystals of evaporated salt, which are similar to table salt. These crystals may bond, creating a thick mass in the brine tank. This is commonly known as 'mushing', may interrupt brine production. Without brine production, a water softener is not able produce soft water.

Can brine from softeners damage a septic tank?

The Water Quality Association has performed studies on this subject. These studies have indicated that a properly placed septic tank that works adequately cannot be damaged by brine that is discharged from a water softener. And softened water can sometimes even help reduce the amount of detergents discharged into a septic tank.

Can waste from a water softener be discharged directly in the garden?

Direct discharge of either sodium or potassium chloride brine should be avoided.

How does a reverse osmosis system work?

Prefiltration: When water first enters the R.O. system, it flows through a prefilter that protects the automatic shut-off and the membrane from clogging with debris. The job of the prefilter is to filter out larger particles such as silt, rust or scale, extending the life of your R.O. membrane and allowing it to tackle the smaller contaminants.

In a higher output T.F.C unit, the prefilter also has activated carbon in it. Not only does the porous activated carbon remove chlorine particles, (which is necessary to protect the refined T.F.C. membrane), it serves to filter out other contaminants as well.

The Membrane: Water then travels to the operational center of the system - the membrane. Here, most particles too small to be trapped by the prefilter are removed from the water stream and rinsed to the drain.

The membrane's microscopic pores allow Hydrogen and Oxygen molecules through, (and water is H2O). The majority of the dissolved solids and other contaminants are flushed into the drain's water stream and exit the system.

The "Final Polish": After the membrane, the R.O. water is routed to the holding tank. The automatic shut-off tells the system when it's time to make more water. When you turn on the faucet and draw water from the holding tank, it then goes through its final stage of filtration, a carbon filter, to remove any remaining tastes and odors before reaching your glass. This adds a "Final Polish" to your water.

Click Here to play videoWatch a video to learn more about the importance of drinking water presented by Aqua Systems' founder Lou Petty.