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A water softener is one of many ion exchange devices used for water improvement, with many useful applications in water treatment. it does a good job of removing moderate amounts of iron from well water if the pH of the water is low. But its most common use is the removal of the “hardness” ions calcium and magnesium that cause scale buildup in plumbing, staining of fixtures, and spotting of glassware in dishwashers. Soap does not lather well in hard water, and hot water appliances experience a heavy buildup of deposits that reduces their effectiveness and shortens their lifespan. Softeners cure those problems.