A salt-based water softener has three main components; brine tank, control valve, and mineral tank. The system removes hardness through an ion exchange process. The brine tank holds salt which is added manually. The salt can be sodium chloride or potassium chloride. Also, it can be in the form of pellets or blocks. This salt dissolves in water at the bottom of the tank. This suspension passes to the mineral tank after each regeneration. The control valve measures the water usage and regeneration cycle. And controls the flow of salt solution in the mineral tank too.
The hard water moves through the mineral tank. The hard minerals, i.e., calcium and magnesium, carry a positive charge. When these positive charge components pass through resin beads which carry a negative charge, they left the water and stick to the negative charge particles. So when the water leaves the tank, it is now the soft water. As per control valve settings, when the capacity of resin beads to attract positive charge components is no more, the regeneration cycle begins.
A typical water softener takes about 85 to 90 minutes to run through its complete automatic regeneration cycle. During regeneration, the softener cleans the treatment medium by reversing the chemical reaction that removes unwanted dissolved minerals from your water
Is it ok to use water while the softener system is regenerating? With a single tank system you will get hard water during the regeneration process. If you use the hot water you will be refilling the hot water heater with hard water. So–yes you can use water during regeneration but it may have some undesirable results