A compound which, when introduced into water used for cleaning or washing, will counteract the effects of the hard water minerals (calcium and magnesium) and produce the effect of softened water. For example, detergent additives and polyphosphates.
A pressurized water treatment device in which hard water is passed through a bed of cation exchange media (either inorganic or synthetic organic) for the purpose of exchanging calcium and magnesium ions for sodium or potassium ions, thus producing a softened water which is more desirable for laundering, bathing, and dishwashing.
This cation exchange process was originally called zeolite water softening or the Permutit Process. Most modern water softeners use a sulfonated bead form of styrene/divinylbenzene (DVB) cation resin.