How to Soften Water at Home: The Basics Explained

Are you having problems with hard water at home? While the minerals contained in it can be beneficial to your health, hard water can be troublesome. Greasy hair, irritated skin, and rough-feeling clothing can all be caused by hard water.

Thankfully, there are ways to soften water in the home. Some methods are quick fixes, while some are more permanent solutions. If you’re wondering how to soften water and what methods might be best for you, keep reading for an informative guide.

What Is Hard Water?

The scientific measure of the “hardness” of water is the amount of dissolved magnesium and calcium in it. The greater the volume of these minerals present in the water, the harder it is.

As rainwater percolates through sedimentary rock, it collects calcium and magnesium which dissolve. This water makes its way into streams and rivers, and eventually into our water supplies.

You’ll know you have hard water if you notice your glassware is cloudy after washing, or if it appears to have a thin film. This is caused by the positively charged calcium atoms, which prevent the soap molecules from dissolving.

Let’s take at some water softening tips.


The most effective way to soften water at home, affecting the whole water supply to a house is ion-exchange. Salt-based ion-exchange water softeners are the most commonly used softeners domestically and work by replacing the calcium and magnesium ions with sodium or potassium.

This method usually requires the installation of two tanks. The first is the resin tank, which contains beads coated in sodium and potassium. The second is the brine tank, which is used in the recharging phase where salt is passed back through the resin tank to “recharge” the beads.

This method is efficient but still requires maintenance. Read about Kinetico water softeners to learn more.

TAC or NAT Systems

For the health-conscious, there may be concerns over using salts to soften water. This is a reasonable assumption and for those with cardiovascular issues, it’s advised to avoid salt-based softeners.

Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) or Nucleation Assisted Crystallization (NAT) don’t use salt and may be a healthier option. However, these systems don’t actually soften the water, rather condition it.

TAC and NAT systems don’t remove or replace the minerals in the water, but they do change the minerals so that they are unable to cling to any surfaces, thus removing the bothersome effects of hard water.

Magnetic Water Softeners

One of the newest methods of water softening is the magnetic water softener. However, these systems are purposed more to prevent the buildup of limescale caused by minerals through an electromagnetic field around the pipes, rather than actually change the hardness of the water.

Now You Know How to Soften Water

If you struggle with the effects of hard water, this guide will hopefully have shown you how to soften water, and that there are several options to dos o. Whether you decide on a salt-based system or a TAC/NAT system depends on a few factors personal to you.

If you would like more information and advice on aspects of home maintenance, check out the Home and Garden section of the website.