Water Softening—Part 1 of 2: The Fundamental Theory

Water softening is an inherently efficient process. This is true for the service cycle, where sodium ions on the resin are exchanged for hardness ions in the water. And, unlike most chemical reactions, it’s true during the reverse exchange, or regeneration, where sodium ions in the brine are swapped for hardness ions on the resin. Few chemical processes are efficient in both directions. The reason for water softening efficiency is a phenomenon called selectivity reversal that’s caused by changes in the solution concentration when the ion exchange reaction involves ions of unequal valence. The principal of selectivity reversal underlies all ion exchange theory and is the science behind the art of softening water.