The most common water softening method is called "ion exchange.” Put simply, this type of softening is a process where calcium and magnesium (the minerals that make water hard) ions are exchanged for sodium ions.
This exchange takes place in a "resin bed" made up of a tiny bead-like material. The beads have a negative charge and attract and hold positively charged ions such as sodium. The beads will exchange the sodium ion for a calcium or magnesium ion since they both have a more powerful positive change.
The differences that separate one softener from another are features such as flow rates, salt capacity and regeneration type.
Regeneration is the process of “recharging” the resin beads when they are “full” of nothing but calcium and magnesium. The type of system a softener uses to regenerate is a very important part of the process and can mean the difference between having enough soft water available or not.
Regeneration “triggered” by a specific time of day is called time clock regeneration. However, one of the most effective regeneration techniques uses Aqua-Sensor® technology, which is based on actual demand. This exclusive option can result in a savings of nearly two tons of salt and 20,000 gallons of water over the lifecycle of your water softener.