The world of salt-free water treatment is constantly evolving with more and more companies joining the fray.
These “alternative” products include Magnetic, Catalytic, Electric, and Electro Dialysis conditioners. Some companies are selling their products the right way i.e. explaining how it works without engaging in hyperbole, while others are not so “above-board” in their tactics.
I would encourage anyone who is looking to go “salt-free” to think about whether the company they are considering is really a “water treatment company” or simply a company that is interested in selling a salt-free product with little else to offer.
There is no “Black Box” that solves all water problems!
If you are dealing with a “full-line” water treatment company, you generally can rest assured that they have the expertise to know which product to apply to specific water problems. Softening is a chemical process, Period.
When hardness, in the form of calcium and magnesium ions, is dissolved in water it has a positive charge (+2). As water is passed through a softener resin bed, those ions attach themselves to the resin, releasing 2 sodium ions (+1 each). Now the soft water no longer has hardness ions to create hard deposits in your appliances and on surfaces in your home. The salt is used to make a strong brine solution to regenerate the resin. As the strong brine passes over the resin, it forces the calcium and magnesium off of the resin and replaces them with sodium again, ready to soften more water; and the excess salt is flushed down the drain.
You cannot, by virtue of an electrical current or magnetic field, change the fundamental properties of a calcium ion to prevent it from causing scale except for the exact location where the field is located. Once that water is heated up, in your water heater for instance, or the water is disturbed at all (running through your pipes will do it) you no longer have any effect on the water from the magnetic field and you’re right back where you started with hard water and lime-scaling.
The reason softeners protect your home plumbing system is because they physically remove the calcium and magnesium from the water. The brine tank does not remove the hardness the softener resin does that.
Simply put, the softener resin has beads of ions hanging off of it. Those ions have a stronger attraction to calcium and magnesium. As water flows through, the resin releases sodium and grabs calcium, leaving the water soft. When the resin has grabbed as much calcium as it can hold a strong brine solution is run through the resin bed overwhelming it with sodium so it is forced to release the calcium and grab sodium. This solution is sent to the drain, the bed is rinsed of brine and the softener is ready for service again.
The Electronic or Magnetic gizmos don’t remove anything from the water, therefore leaving the hard water scaling entirely intact.
It’s particularly interesting that these companies do not in any way actually explain their “technology”. Their pictures are bogus and unverified. They are counting on the fact that most people do not know enough about water chemistry to realize their assertions are fundamentally flawed. All of the no-salt “softener” folks refuse a real-world third party test like U.S. EPA or NSF every time, without exception. They would like you to purchase their systems without independent verification. Makes one wonder why?
When you are ready to buy a Softener and/or Conditioner it is important to understand the difference between the two. Many companies are calling their product a “salt-free” softener, this softener has not been invented so that would indicate that it is a “salt-free” conditioner and can not soften the water in your home.
To those of you that continue to believe that the Ion Exchange Water softener is the tried, proven, and true way of removing calcium & magnesium (hardness) from the water, you are on the right course.
The alternative devices will run the course and have to prove the science. Right now they exist because of lack of education for consumers, however that is starting to change. Many new websites are popping up containing information about the true science (or lack thereof) pertaining to these devices.
Major player in the water treatment market owns the website name “Salt Free Water Softener” and will soon launch education on these devices. Look at the WQA Battelle study results showing that the water softener is the greenest device today’s consumer can own in their home. Remember that Water sense is based on water wasted.
For example a 1 cubic foot Ion Exchange water softener using salt on 20 grain hard water can treat 1,400 gallons while only wasting 39. That’s 96% efficiency. A washing machine, dishwasher, and whole house humidifier waste 100%.
I would say to the Alternative Methods or physical Device manufacturers this: There is a large market of potential water treatment clients that would own these products if they had quality, ethical, science backed by an ANSI accredited program that proved these devices did what is claimed. Don’t you think that if they did what they said, everyone would be selling them?
If they actually worked they would get them approved for ANSI Performance. None of these alternative companies or products can or will do this.