Cation vs Anion Exchange: Key Variances

Cation exchange resins and anion exchange resins both provide some form of ion exchange, so they’re often mistakenly thought of as the same.

However, these resins serve different purposes and remove different ions from water, and they’re not interchangeable.

In this guide, we’ve summarized the cation exchange and anion exchange processes, discussed what they can remove, and outlined their main differences when comparing one to the other.

The main difference between these two water treatment processes is that cation exchange removes positively charged ions, while anion exchange removes negatively charged ions.

What’s The Difference Between Cation Exchange And Anion Exchange?

Cation exchange involves the replacement of cations, or ions with a positive charge, in the water with positively charged ions that are pre-loaded on a resin or exchange material.

What Is Cation Exchange?

Cation exchange uses a type of ion exchange resin that’s effective in removing cations such as calcium, magnesium, and heavy metals (like iron) from the water.

What Can Cation Exchange Remove?

Anion exchange uses a very similar process to cation exchange – the main difference is that the resin charge and the anions being exchanged have opposite charges.

What Is Anion Exchange?

Anion resins can remove sulfate, nitrate, chloride, bicarbonate, arsenic, fluoride, and more.

What Can Anion Exchange Remove?

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