tableted salt for water softener

According to ABC News, almost 90% of homes in America have hard water. This includes homes that have well water and homes that get their water supply from their local municipality or city. Hard water contains calcium and other minerals that cause scale buildup inside plumbing lines, water fixtures, and appliances. 

While the calcium and minerals are not dangerous, they cause your plumbing fixtures and appliances to clog more easily and not work correctly. Hard water also leaves white spots and deposits around faucets and drains and on dishes. Furthermore, you have to use more soap and cleaning products for them to be effective. 

Find out how hard your water is and what is in it by scheduling a water test with one of our LAs Vegas plumbers today. 

What is a water softener?

A water softener is a special device installed where the water main comes into your home or business. This device removes the calcium and minerals, transforming your hard water into soft water. There are residential and commercial water softeners, but they all function the same

How do water softeners work?

A basic water softener system consists of four main parts: the mineral tank, the brine tank, a control valve, and a discharge hose. 

Stage 1: Hard water flows into the mineral tank. 

The mineral tank contains resin or plastic beads that have a negative charge. The calcium and minerals in hard water have a positive charge. 

As water flows into the mineral tank, the positively charged ions in the calcium and minerals are attracted to the negatively charged ion on the resin or plastic beads. This process works similarly to a magnet, where the negatively charged ions draw the positively charged ions together. 

Stage 2: The water exits the mineral tank

The water exits the mineral tank through a control valve and into the main water supply line for the house. A meter on the control valve keeps track of the number of gallons of water used. 

Once it reaches a preset number, the valve closes so that the water softener can run a regeneration cycle (cleaning cycle) to remove the calcium and minerals from the resin or plastic beads in the mineral tank. 

Stage 3: The regeneration cycle runs.

As the beads continue to attract calcium and minerals, eventually, they lose their magnetic properties and will no longer remove calcium and minerals from the water. To regenerate the beads, a regeneration cycle or clean cycle runs.

With the control valve closed, the brine tank is filled with water. The water passes over salt or potassium chloride pellets that are mixed into the water. The “saltwater” solution is then pumped into the mineral tank.   

Salt ions have a positive charge. So, when they pass over the beads, their positive charge repels the positively charged calcium and mineral ions. As they do, they are forced away from the beads. 

Next, the water solution with the calcium, mineral, and salt ions is flushed down the discharge hose. Lastly, the control valve reopens, and water softening commences. 

You will need to replenish the salt or potassium chloride pellets in the brine tank about once a month on average. However, depending on how much water you use and the number of people in the home, you may need to do this more often. 

Different Types of Water Softeners

You can select three general types of water softeners for your home or business: ion exchange water softeners, dual-tank water softeners, and salt-free water softeners. 

Ion Exchange Water Softeners

This water softener consists of the basic setup and water softening process we mentioned earlier. There is a mineral tank, brine tank, control valve, and discharge hose. 

Dual Tank Water Softeners

This setup includes a second mineral tank and an additional control valve. While the system is running a regeneration process in one tank, the other tank is still softening water, so you never have to go without soft water. This setup is more common in larger households. 

Salt-Free Water Softeners

Salt or potassium chloride is required to remove calcium and minerals from hard water. You may have heard of salt-free water softeners; however, they are not actual softeners. Instead, they are a type of water conditioner that uses a process called TAC (template-assisted crystallization) that changes the calcium and magnesium ions into microscopic crystals.

These crystals are not able to attach to pipes and fixtures. However, they are not removed from the water. So essentially, you still have hard water with calcium and minerals, but without the hassles and headaches of scale deposits and buildup. 

What’s the difference between a water softener and a reverse osmosis water system? 

A water softener only removes calcium and minerals from hard water. If there are other impurities in the water, those will remain. A reverse osmosis system filters out sodium and other impurities in drinking water. 

Many people with a water softener also have a reverse osmosis system so that their water is softened and filtered for the best quality water. 

What type of system is best for my Las Vegas home?

Las Vegas is notorious for its hard water, even when you are connected to the city’s supply. We recommend scheduling an appointment with one of our water softener and reverse osmosis system technicians to have your water tested.

After your water is tested, we can recommend the best type of system for your home, as well as the correct size system to suit your household size and water usage. 

Benefits of Hiring a Local Plumber

Installing water softeners and reverse osmosis systems require the assistance of skilled local plumbers. When you choose a local plumbing company, like Larkin Plumbing in Las Vegas, you have committed professionals to provide the plumbing services you need. 

In addition, you can rest assured we will be there when you need us. At Larkin Plumbing, we have been providing plumbing services since 1936. Whether you need a water softener and reverse osmosis system installed or maintenance, repairs, and supplies, we are happy to take care of all your plumbing needs. 

Get a free estimate on a water softener and reverse osmosis system for your Las Vegas home or business today. 


90 Percent of Homes Have Hard Water: What Are the Effects? (2019). 

Hardness of Water. (2018).

Crail, C., et al. (2022). Learn the Pros and Cons of Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration Systems