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Of the hard water treatments on the market, the use of packaged water softeners is a popular option. They come in two types: precipitating and non-precipitating. Precipitating water softeners include washing soda and borax. They form an insoluble precipitate with calcium and magnesium ions and increase alkalinity of the cleaning solution. Non-precipitating water softeners use complex phosphates to grab onto calcium and magnesium ions. There is no precipitate to form deposits and alkalinity is not increased.