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water softener

noun
1.
any of a group of substances that when added to water containing calcium and magnesium ions cause the ions to precipitate or change their usual properties: used in the purification of water for the laboratory, and for giving water more efficient sudsing ability with soap.
Also called softener.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for water-softener

water softener

noun
1.
any substance that lessens the hardness of water, usually by precipitating or absorbing calcium and magnesium ions
2.
a tank, apparatus, or chemical plant that is used to filter or treat water to remove chemicals that cause hardness
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Article for water-softener

water softener

device for removing calcium and magnesium from water; water so treated will not form insoluble scale in pipes and tanks and will not form a precipitate with soaps or interfere with other cleaners. Water softeners usually consist of zeolite or an ion-exchange resin (q.v.) in a tank connected directly into the water system. The zeolite or resin contains sodium ions that change places with the calcium and magnesium ions dissolved in the water. When the zeolite or resin becomes exhausted (when most of its exchangeable sodium is replaced with calcium and magnesium), it can be regenerated by washing with a strong solution of common salt, which removes the calcium and magnesium and replaces them once again by sodium. Indispensable in many industries, water-softening units are also used in homes in a number of countries.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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