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Water Softeners

May 13, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

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Minerals like calcium and magnesium salts are essential to plant and animal life processes. As such, they are abundant naturally and a large portion of them get dissolved into water. Over time these minerals build up and create problems in water systems. As they are unnecessary components of drinking water, most people find it beneficial to remove the minerals or try to counter their effects in water.

The primary mineral salt of concern is calcium carbonate. This salt makes water hard and contributes to lime scale buildup. As lime scale grows in pipes, the water heater will become overworked (causing high electric bills).To remedy this situation sometimes the owner has to repair or replace pipes which can be very costly. 

The most popular and effective water softeners currently available are electronic water softeners. Electronic water softeners emit a square wave current that changes intensity and direction frequently in an effort to break loose any lime scale buildup. As the calcium carbonate is broken apart it forms a harmless substance called aragonite, which is then safely flushed out of the system. Electronic water softeners can be used to minimize lime scale buildup near pipes, faucets, toilets, bath tubs, shower heads, and on glassware.

Other potential though not quite as potent water softeners are:

Conventional Water Softeners – These units soften the water by altering it chemically and creating an ion exchange. Hard compounds are bound to table salt (or potassium salt). On the downside, these devices are costly, expensive to install, must be refilled with salt frequently, and need professional maintenance.

Electronic Water Conditioners – These conditioners have properties to inhibit calcification and lime scaling on pipes.

Magnets – Have properties which also work to de-calcify pipes.

Electro-magnets – Calcium and other minerals are suspended in a magnetic field created by a coil of single core wire wrapped around the water inlet.

Polyphosphate (AKA Silicophosphate) – This compound is delivered into the primary cold water pipes to prevent new lime scale buildup. Polyphosphate does not penetrate or eradicate existing lime scale. Cartridges require frequent replacement.

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