What Is The Water Softening Process?


shower head spraying hard water

When I was younger, and I heard people talking about “hard” or “soft” water, I didn’t exactly believe the hype.  I thought it was just all kind of insignificant to me.  I could understand the concept, but for the life of me couldn’t appreciate it.

Now, that’s all different.  Let’s take a closer look.

Hard Water vs. Soft Water

Hard water contains minerals like calcium and magnesium. These minerals have positively charged ions, and these ions make calcium and magnesium difficult to dissolve. As a result, these minerals get to be highly concentrated in water, making water taste salty or it leaves behind a residue, such as “soap scum”.

On the other hand, soft water contains less concentration of ions, especially calcium ions and magnesium ions. Use of hard water for daily chores is not the ideal way to go about life.

The presence of minerals and chemicals in hard water may cause or awaken bothersome allergies and even cause infections. The good news is that there is an easy route to get rid of this problem- water softening.

Water Softening Process

Water softening is all about removing minerals and chemicals that are in water in than trace amounts. It’s not just about removing calcium and magnesium, but also it involves removing substances like iron, lead, copper, radium, and sediments.

Water softeners operate on the main principle of ion exchange. If you want to remain healthy, you must make a quick shift to soft water.

There are a variety of water softeners in the market which you can buy. Basically, there are four major water softening methods:

  • Physical water softening- use of physical materials to alter the properties of hard water to prevent or reduce limescale formation. It includes use of either electronic conditioners, electrolytic conditioners, or magnetic conditioners.
  • Chemical water softening- there are two categories: use of precipitation chemicals and non-precipitation softeners. Precipitation chemicals include soda lime and borax while non-precipitation chemicals are such as Calgon and many others. Chemically softened water is ideally used for washing.
  • Mechanical water softening- this is the “true” water softening involving ion exchange processes.
  • Water filtration– includes use of water distillers, reverse osmosis units, and carbon resin filters.

It’s advisable not to employ any of the above methods if you have no idea about them. This article will be of great help in letting you know about a water softening method under the category of chemical water softening.

What is the Lime Soda process for Water Softening?

This process uses lime and soda ash as reagents. The process works by combining these reagents with salts found in hard water. The soluble salts get eliminated hydroxide and carbonate compounds. These are the precipitates in this case. After removal of the precipitated, you obtain soft water that is easy to use for laundry purposes.

You can use this process to remove both the permanent and temporary water hardness. Before using the process, be sure of level of temporary/permanent water hardness as you will need it to determine the amount of reagents you’ll use.

You can employ any of the two major types of soda lime processes to soften your hard water: the cold and the hot soda lime process.

– Cold lime soda softening

In this process, water softening occurs at room temperature. water is passed into a tank together with a particular calculated amount of soda ash and lime. Water is then allowed to settle, and once the settlement is completely done, water is moved into another tank. There you get softened water. This process is however not fit for all purposes. It’s only suitable if you need partially softened water because the process does not completely result into precipitation of all hardness-forming salts. Magnesium hardness may be removed almost completely, but only about 40% of calcium hardness can be removed using this process.

– Hot lime soda softening

In this process, the reactions for water softening occur at high temperatures, nearly about 100 degrees. Chemical mixing is the same as that of the cold water process, but the high temperatures produce steam which is also applied in the process. Due to this, the precipitation process completes very fast. Magnesium hardness is removed entirely while almost all the hardness caused by calcium is removed. Moreover, the corrosive gasses found in hard water are eliminated by this procedure.


The primary purpose of softening water using soda lime is for laundry. Lime softened water isn’t the best for you to drink. The advantage of lime water softening is that it is an easy method and in addition to cleaning, it also deodorizes. If you want to soften water for drinking purposes, it’s advisable to employ the other methods of softening, especially the use of physical conditioners.