Hard Water

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    • #273619
      MasterPlumbers
      Keymaster

      I have a relatively minor hard water problem in a new (1 year old) home. I am considering having a water softner installed. I understand that there are two basic types — an ion exchange (salt) typ e and an electric/magnetic type. I know the ion exchange units have been around for decades, and the electrict/magnetic type are fairly new. Can anyone tell me the advantages/disadvantages of each? Do the electric/magnetic ones actually work??? Is there a preffered brand?

      Thanks in advance for the Help

      Dean

    • #288165

      These are a few articles I have collected on this subject please read them and form your own opinion. You will find on the Internet argument for and against ion exchange as well as magnets.

      My personal opinion on the subject of magnets is that when you run water through the magnetic field the softening effect is only realized while the water is in motion. If the water stops moving then it will return to it’s previous state. David F. Walling

      Water Treatment Equipment: Water Softeners
      by
      Ann Z. Dellenbarger and DeLynn Hay

      The presence of calcium (Ca) and/or magnesium (Mg) in water results in that water being termed “hard.” These mineral ions in the water react with heat, metallic plumbing, and chemical agents such as detergents to reduce the cleaning effectiveness of laundry, dish washing, and bathing.

      Table I. Classification for water hardness (Hardness as CaCo) Classification Mg/L or PPM GPG
      Soft 0-60 0-3.5
      Moderate 61-120 3.5-7
      Hard 121-180 7-10.5
      Very Hard > 180 > 10.5

      The calcium and magnesium ions typically are present in combination with sulfate, chloride, carbonate, and bicarbonate. These minerals generally are measured in either parts per million (ppm), or as milligrams per liter (mg/l).

      The water conditioning industry often expresses water hardness in grains of hardness per gallon of water (gpg). The American Society of Agricultural Engineers has classified water hardness as indicated in Table I.

      Hardness can be tested by water testing laboratories, some city-county health departments, and some water treatment equipment dealers. Most public water systems will be able to tell you the hardness of the water they deliver.

      There are three main reasons for removing water hardness minerals before use. The minerals:

      form soap curds that are difficult to clean,
      deposit scale that clogs plumbing and fixtures,
      build up scale in water-using appliances such as water heaters, require additional energy costs, and reduce equipment efficiency.
      How Can Water Be Softened?
      Hard water can be softened using ion-exchange water softeners, or using commercial water-softening chemicals in the laundry water. For most situations with water in hard and very hard classifications, an ion-exchange water softener is the desired alternative.

      How Does Water Softener Equipment Work?
      According to the Water Quality Research Council, all recognized home water softening equipment now on the market uses ion exchange processes to remove the hardness minerals from the water.

      The hard water passes through a tank containing a high capacity ion exchange resin, usually sulfonated polystyrene beads which are microporous. The beads are supersaturated with sodium to cover both their exterior and interior surfaces.

      As the water passes through the bed of softening materials there is an ion exchange. Calcium and magnesium ions attach to the resin beads while the sodium on the resin is released into the water. Figure 1 illustrates the softening process.

      Figure 1. The water softening process.
      Ion-exchange beads are extremely durable, but after softening a large quantity of hard water the beads become saturated with calcium and magnesium ions. When this occurs, the softener must be regenerated or recharged. This is done by flushing the ion exchange resin with a salt brine solution to replenish the resin with sodium ions.

      Frequency of regeneration depends upon the hardness of the water, the amount of water used, the size of the unit, and the capacity of resins to remove hardness. Sixty to 75 minutes are required for the brine to pass through the unit and flush the tank before soft water is again available.

      Mechanical water softeners are classified into the following types:

      Manual — All manual units require the operator to initiate some or all of the steps in the softener operation. The most basic unit requires the operator to initiate all functions: backwash, brining, rinsing, and return to service.
      Semi-automatic — The more complex semiautomatic units require the operator to initiate only the regeneration cycle. All necessary steps of regeneration and return to service then are handled by the softener controls.
      Automatic — The fully automatic softener usually is equipped with a timer that automatically initiates the regeneration cycle and every step in the process. The regeneration of the unit usually is done during periods of low water usage, such as between midnight and 4 a.m.
      Demand initiated regeneration — With a demand initiated regeneration unit, all operations are initiated and performed automatically in response to the demand for treated water. The need for regeneration is determined by measuring gallons of water used, or by measuring the change in the electrical conductivity of the resin bed, or by sensing a change in water hardness.
      Off-site regeneration — In addition, rental units are available where the resin tank is exchanged in the home and then recharged at a central location. The basic installation of a water softener is illustrated in Figure 2.

      Figure 2. The typical installation of a water softener.
      What Are the Maintenance Requirements of Water Softeners?
      A softener should be kept regenerated at all times to avoid hard water flowing into the pipes and water-using appliances. As a minimum guideline, regenerate the unit every two weeks.

      The brine tank requires periodic cleaning. The frequency needed depends on the type and amount of salt used and the characteristics of the water being treated. Inspect the brine tank at least once a year for build-up of insoluble materials. Check and clean the brine valve and float assembly, if used.

      The presence of excess iron, iron bacteria, or hydrogen sulfide quickly can inhibit the effectiveness of a water softening unit. In these cases installation of the proper pre-softening treatment equipment is important.

      If your softener has a manual or semiautomatic back washing system, continue the back washing operation until the water runs clear. If backwash time is adjustable on a fully automatic unit, check to be sure the timer provides for sufficient back washing to produce clear water in the drain. If the water is still dirty, reset the timer for longer back washing.

      Adequate back washing is essential to keep the bed of the unit clean for adequate regeneration.

      What are the Differences in the Types of Softener Salt?
      Softener salt can be compared with gasoline in a car. Manufacturers design their softeners for operation with specific types of salt, so it is good practice to use the recommended type. Common types of salt include compressed salt, block salt, and rock salt.

      Compressed salt is produced by an evaporation process and contains less than .01 percent impurities. For household water softener use the evaporated salt is compressed into small particles referred to as pellets, nuggets, gems, pearls, zeo-tabs, and beads or buttons. These are sized according to the softener manufacturer’s specifications.

      Salt blocks used in water softener brine tanks are the same general size, shape and weight (50 pounds) as those used for livestock feeding. However, the salt blocks used for animal nutrition generally contain binders or additives incompatible with water softener units.

      Use block salt only in those units specifically designed for this form of salt. Make certain you use those made from high-grade evaporated salt without binders or additives.

      Rock salt is a natural product that may have high levels of soluble or insoluble impurities. If the soluble impurities are salts of calcium or magnesium, they can significantly reduce the effectiveness of the chemical regeneration process. Insoluble impurities can collect in the brine tank or softener bed. This increases pressure drop, plugs valves, and requires more maintenance than usual. When using rock salt, always select those averaging less than one percent impurities.

      Additives may be included with the salt to keep the softener bed from being clogged with iron. Selecting this specially formulated salt may be desirable when the water supply is high in iron.

      Is Drinking Softened Water Harmful to Human Health?
      The ion exchange softening process adds sodium at the rate of about eight mg/liter for each grain per gallon of water hardness. If the water is 30 grains hard, it will contain about 240 mg/liter of sodium — the same amount of sodium in two eight-ounce glasses of milk.

      If softened water is used for cooking and drinking, the added sodium could be troublesome for individuals on sodium-restricted diets due to health problems such as hypertension.

      While research indicates there is no proven cause and effect relationship between drinking softened water and hypertension, individuals following a sodium-restricted diet should discuss this matter with a physician.

      When you don’t wish to use softened water for drinking and cooking, the simplest solution is to bypass the water softener with the cold water line to the kitchen. This provides hard water for drinking and cooking purposes.

      Use of a separate “drinking water” faucet is done for aesthetic as well as health reasons. Many people prefer the taste of hard water to water that has been softened.

      Will Using a Water Softener Damage A Septic Tank?
      Water softeners have not been shown to have adverse effects on home waste water treatment systems. A University of Wisconsin-Madison study found that even when twice the average use rate of salt was discharged into the septic system, there was no difference in performance.

      Consumer Guidelines for Purchasing a Water Softener
      Use proven technology.
      Buy a recognized brand from a dealer you know and trust.
      Ask how long the company has been in business.
      Ask how you can tell if the unit is working properly.
      Check to see if the equipment has been validated or certified by a third party testing organization, such as the Water Quality Association (WQA).
      Be sure you understand the cost of the system. Does the cost include installation fees? Are there extra charges for bypassing the cold water to the kitchen?
      Be certain you understand the method and cost of regenerating the system.
      Ask dealers for names of customers who have similar equipment. Check with the previous customers to see if they are satisfied with the equip ment and service.
      Read the instruction book, keep it handy, refer to it often, and follow the directions.
      Check the warranty provisions and send in the warranty card.
      Have your water tested before and after installing equipment to evaluate the effectiveness of the treat ment.
      The advantages of softened water are numerous. You can expect cleaner, softer-feeling clothes, less use of household cleaning products, less use of shampoo and other personal cleanliness products, and all-around easier maintenance and upkeep of the home. You also can expect longer life of appliances, including washing machines, dishwashers, and water heaters.

      Endnote: The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of reviewers Linda Boeckner, Connie Hancock, Sharon Skipton, Rose Marie Tondl, Shirley Niemeyer, Roger Gold, and Cel Schweers.

      Magnetic Water Attracts The Gullible
      By Richard C. Stump II

      We live in an age of great scientific advances. Things considered to be impossible 100 years ago are as commonplace as a blade of grass. Medical advances make possible the treatment and detection of disease which would once have caused death, but with all the changes that have taken place in the world, there is one thing that is still the same: we still have those individuals who would take advantage of people’s lack of knowledge and gullibility for their own gain. We see this is drug trafficking, theft, and even in some businesses.

      One hundred years ago, patent medicine men roamed the countryside selling all kinds of concoctions that were supposed to cure nearly any ailment. The claims made were fantastic and the sales pitch excellent; so, naturally, people bought the concoctions. The medicine man was careful to tell people that the effect was not immediate so as not to arouse suspicion while he was still in town.

      The interesting thing was many people actually felt better after they took the medicine, some even claimed it cured their diseases. This kind of medicine today is known as a placebo. Many doubted the effectiveness but bought it anyway because they thought it might work, and besides it was so much cheaper than going to the doctor. Only the patent medicine man knew it was a fake. Government agencies put the patent medicine men out of business, but the tendency for people to pull the same kind of dishonest scheme is still there. So we find those same kind of individuals searching for some kind of product that they can sell at extreme profit to that gullible section of the population that still exists.

      What they need is something slightly mysterious, yet readily available. What comes to mind immediately is magnets and magnetism. Couple this with a pseudo-scientific explanation that sounds plausible and convincing. Then mass produce the product for $2 and sell it for $200. It is a known statistical fact that only 40 percent of the people who are sold a defective or non-functioning product will ever complain and far fewer would ever demand a refund. So with a profit margin of thousands of percent, you can still be way ahead of the game. An even more clever maneuver is to make it your policy that the product cannot be returned for a refund until after you use it for 90 days. The patent medicine man used that technique in order to get out of town. Ninety days is just long enough to forget that someone ripped you off for $200.

      If simple magnets have such amazine ability so as to soften and neutralize water and super charge fuel in an engine, why not take it a step further? Why not magnetic belts that reduce the size of the fat molecules around your waistline for those of us who need to trim a few pounds? Or magnetic shirts that unclog the arteries which surround the heart? Why wouldn’t it remove calcium and cholesterol deposits from our bodies (70 percent water), if it removes them from our plumbing in our homes? Perhaps we should come up with magnetic headbands that supercharge our brains and increase our IQ; or perhaps magnetic eyeglasses that let you see around corners. I learned a long time ago, “If it sounds too good to be true, it is.”

      We all look for bargains but as the old saying goes, “There are no free rides or lunches.” Magnetic water treatment isn’t new. It dates back to the ‘50s, shortly after real water conditioners were invented. Purdue University studies have shown them to be totally ineffective in chemically changing the water or reducing scale. Tests on water going in and coming out have shown them totally ineffective. The only good thing they do is to get people to think about the quality of water in their homes.

      If magnetic water treatment is so great, why did the Superior Court of Arizona issue a restraining order banning the sale of magnetic water softeners in 1978? Why did the Division of Consumer Protection of South Dakota send out a news release urging residents not to purchase the prevailing magnetic water softeners at the time? Why did the Minnesota Better Business News, April 19, 1979, alert consumers to “beware of questionable claims for magnetic water treatment devices”? Why did Purdue University state that none of the magnetic water treatment devices tested shows a beneficial change in the water? Finally, why is it that continued laboratory tests of such devices show them to be ineffective?

      Perhaps the best motto would be, “Let the buyer beware when buying bargain priced parachutes or water conditioners.”

      –From the Reading Eagle

      Magnetic water scam? author unknown

      Water’s capacity to entrap substances results in its high mineral content. One of the most common is calcium carbonate, a substance that forms mountain ranges, such as the Austrian Alps. Most water supplied by water districts in (North America) contains a good amount of calcium content. This is important for proper taste and a healthy mineral balance.”
      However, calcium is a problem in industry. It creates deposits of scale, like the accumulated scale in your kitchen kettle. Calcium is also a health problem when unassimilated calcium is deposited in human joints. Water softeners work as ion exchangers replacing calcium carbonate with sodium, which is okay for industry but it’s not recommended for human consumption!

      Magnetizing Water

      The effects of magnetic fields on running water have been observed for years. Patents on treating water with magnets appeared as early as the 1950s. It was discovered that less scale deposit was produced after long use. The effects were described as making the water appear to “behave” as if the mineral content was lowered. This technology was used mainly in countries which had very little chemical industry, like Russia, China, Poland and Bulgaria, who all reported the successful use of magnets in treating water for irrigation, industry and home use. They cited improvments in taste and faster drying time – but no one knew why!

      Magnetic water treatment developed more slowly in the West. To Western minds measuring the magnetic effect of flowing water was somewhat suspect (Kronenberg said, “People in the West insist on understanding what they say or do!”).

      Also chemicals were in general use in North America and the chemical industry did its best to discourage the use of magnets-for obvious reasons!

      Even to Westerners, however, the genuine and practical effects of magnetic water treatment after prolonged use were undeniable. And Kronenberg states there is no mystique in how magnets treat water problems.The positive effects have been confirmed through systematic research. When treatment devices with permanent magnets were developed they were immediately successful! The formation of scale on new pipes was totally eliminated and the removal of scale deposits in old water pipes was soon evident.

      It was while he was at California State Polytechnic that Kronenberg contributed to the pioneering work in agriculture that re-used re-energized irrigation water with magnetic treatment. He says magnets actually change the nucleus of water.

      And that is the source of its seemingly magical properties. A diet of magnetized water makes cows give more milk, chickens grow fatter and lay more eggs. And cantaloupes and other crops grow larger and have better yields with less fertilizer.

      Professor Israel Lin of the Israel Institute of Technology decided to use magnetic treatment on saline and brackish water, using an instrument costing less than $5000 (US). The unexpected effects were revealed during tests at Kibbutz Gvat. The 85 cows that drank magnetically treated water for three years produced a litre more milk a day, had fewer milkless days and conceived more easily, due to increased health and vitality. (Better than bovine growth hormone!)

      The calves not only weighed more than calves in the control group, they were leaner!

      Magnetic water had a similar effect on all farm animals at Kibbutz Gvat. Geese grew bigger, sheep produced more meat, milk and wool, chickens and turkeys laid more eggs and were prolific for a longer period. More dramatically, the mortality rate was reduced with less feed. Lin said the change of the water’s properties is the key.

      “The magnetized water increases the solubility of minerals and therefore improves the transfer of nutrients to all parts of the body. making the organism work more efficiently”

      The Nucleus of Water

      ‘The shortage of nucleation centres in water is known to result from the capability of the water molecules to cluster around cach foreign particle,” Kronenberg explained. This renders it unavailable as a nucleation centre. The forces of the magnetic fields on those water molecule clusters is very weak, however. The clusters vibrate in a number of ways. When they pass a number of magnetic poles at a certain velocity the periodic changes of the magnetic fields may coincide with one of the internal vibration frequencies of the water clusters. Resonance may occur and result in cracking open such a cluster.

      “The formerly entrapped particle is set free and the nearby mineral molecules rush from all sides to their nucleation centre where they form circular platelets do not have to be crystallized on a container wall. In turn, the number of hard crystals is reduced accordingly. The percentage reduction is the magnetic treatment’s effectiveness racing.”

      The Memory of Water

      Many success reports specify that magnetized water maintains its property of scale deposit prevention up to two days. Kronenberg says some critics make this fact look absurd by calling it “water’s ability to remember its magnetizing experience.”

      “We do know,” he states,”that the treated water retains its special scale-reducing properties while the calcium carbonate is present in the solid, inactive form of the micro crystals. We have examined these crystals under massive magnification in various waters and different treatments. We can recognize in the 400-time magnification the clear prototype of the disc-shaped crystallization nuclei.”

      He says that following magnetic treatment of water with a bad smell the odor was removed because “the dissolved sulfite minerals were changed into solid masses.”

      Water Is Life

      Johann Grander says that because of electrical disturbances. satellites and especially through high water pressure, water loses its life force. And sick water negatively affects the health of people, animals and plants. On the other hand, water that has been revitalized through. magnetic treatment is restored to its natural energy.

      Crops grow faster and stronger; flowers and plants are healthier and more resistant to disease; lakes, rivers and streams are helped back to health; and livestock and pets are more vigorous.

      Magnetic treatment for purifying and rejuvenating water is new in North America. Kronenberg says it’s important that the public learns and understands the physical structure of water and the fundamental problems that presently exist-but don’t show up in a chemical water test. The benefits of restoring the vital energy of water has economic, personal and environmental benefits.

      Unfortunately, government bureaucrats are so far behind what is really required to revitalize and purify our water that they refuse to recognize that chlorination is a poison, not a purifying agent. And magnetism is not magic. It’s jut slightly foreign to North American experience-but it’s not going to make big profit for mega chemical companies!

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