Archive for February, 2020

Water Softener Alternatives

Posted by Rayne Water

Water softeners are highly effective at removing mineral content from hard water. But there are also water softener alternatives available. These alternatives to water softeners function differently, yet produce results similar to those provided by traditional water softeners. 

The most common alternative to water softeners is called a water conditioner and offers a viable way to reduce the damage hard water can cause throughout your home through a process distinct from the process used by water softeners.

What is Hard Water?

Before discussing water softeners and their alternatives, it is useful to begin by gaining a firm understanding of what hard water is. This will help shed light on how water softeners and their alternatives function, and the differences between these two types of systems.

Hard water is simply water with high mineral content. Sometimes the water is hardened because it contains metals like iron, lead, or aluminum, but more often it is due to a high content of calcium and magnesium. Calcium and magnesium in hard water may be in the form of sulfates, bicarbonates, and chlorides.

Hard water is a natural phenomenon that varies based on the region you are in; some regions have harder water than others. This is because water hardens as it passes through soil and stone with high mineral content. For example, if your water is sourced from an area with a large concentration of limestone, your water will primarily be hardened with calcium.

As water moves through soil and stone, it picks up mineral and metal ions. Those ions bond to the water molecule, remaining until the water is boiled or evaporated away. What remains behind is known as scale. Scale is an insoluble precipitate that is one of the most common indicators you have hard water.

How is Hard Water Measured?

Water hardness is best thought of as a spectrum. Water may be soft or very hard, or somewhere in between. Hardness level is most often determined by measuring the calcium carbonate equivalent content in a sample of water. This is expressed as the number of grains-per-gallon (GPG) of calcium carbonate.

These are the most commonly used thresholds for determining how hard or soft your water is:

The best way to determine whether you have hard water is to schedule a water test with Rayne Water. Alternatively, you can usually tell if you have hard water by becoming familiar with the top impacts of hard water and looking for their effects around your house. Things like scaling, soap scum and water spots on your dishes are all key indicators you are dealing with hard water.

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Options for Dealing With Water Hardness

If you are fed up with the effects of hard water around your house, on your clothes, and on your hair, it’s important to understand what options you have for dealing with it. Hard water can be a pain, but thankfully there are effective ways to deal with it.

In a residential setting, the two most common methods of dealing with hard water are using a water softener or a water conditioner. Both of these systems function in different ways, and understanding what these differences are can help you determine which system is right for you. 

Water Softeners

Water softeners have been around for a while, and most people have heard of them and used softened water at some point. Water softeners function through a process known as ion exchange, during which hard mineral ions in water are removed and replaced with sodium ions.

When water percolates through the ground it picks up positively charged mineral ions. The process of ion exchange involves attracting these mineral ions away from the water molecule and replacing them with sodium.

To do this, water softeners will typically have at least two tanks. The first tank contains a large amount of negatively charged resin beads. Attached to these resin beads are positively charged sodium ions. When hard water enters the water softener it is placed into this resin tank. As the hard water passes over the resin beads, the mineral ions are attracted to the resin beads. As these minerals attach to the resin beads in the resin tank, they displace the sodium ion which moves to join the water molecule. This allows the water molecule to maintain a balanced charge and completes the process of ion exchange.

The second tank in a water softener is referred to as the brine tank. This tank contains a salty brine solution. This solution is used to periodically refresh the resin in the brine tank. The resin is saturated with the brine solution, which displaces the minerals attached to the resin and replaces them with fresh sodium ions. Once this process is complete, the wastewater is flushed from the system and down the drain.

Some people are concerned about the level of sodium in softened water. Here are a couple of key points about sodium in softened water:

For most healthy adults the amount of sodium in softened water poses little risk. However, if you are concerned about sodium in softened water it may be worth considering water softener alternatives like a water conditioner. Many people choose to install a reverse osmosis system to use in conjunction with their water softener. Reverse osmosis systems are capable of removing sodium added to softened water, as well as reducing a wide range of other contaminants.

The best salt for water softener may depend on your specific system and needs. The use of sodium chloride is more common, but some people use potassium chloride to reduce the amount of sodium in softened water. Be sure to speak with a water quality specialist familiar with your water softening system to determine the best salt for your system. Additionally, learn more with our guide to How Does Salt Soften Water.

Water Conditioners

Water conditioners are the best alternative to a water softener if you are concerned about sodium in your water. The key difference between water softeners and water conditioners is water conditioners don’t remove the minerals from hard water.

Remember, the main impact of hard is scaling. Water softeners address this problem by removing hard water minerals and replacing them with sodium ions. In contrast, water conditioners cause minerals in hard water to crystallize.

Water conditioners do this through the use of template-assisted crystallization (TAC) media. As hard water passes over TAC media, a small portion of the hard minerals crystallize. These are sometimes referred to as “seed crystals”. Once these seed crystals have formed, the remaining mineral ions contained in the hard water will preferentially attach to the seed crystal rather than any surfaces the water comes into contact with.

Although conditioned water still contains hard minerals, those minerals no longer cause scaling. This means conditioned water won’t cause mineral buildup in your pipes, in your appliances, or on surfaces throughout your home. 

Water conditioners also have a couple of other features that make them advantageous for certain situations. These features are:

Final Thoughts

The most common alternative to a water softening system is a water conditioner. While water softeners remove the mineral ions from hard water and replace them with sodium ions through a process known as ion exchange, water conditioners alter the structure of the mineral ions. This allows the mineral ions to stay in the drinking water but eliminates the ability of those minerals to cause scaling. Additionally, it’s important to analyze the taste of your water — see our guide to Does Water Have a Taste for more information.

Water conditioners are effective at reducing the impacts of hard water throughout your home, making them an excellent alternative to water softening systems. Like water softeners, water conditioners are usually installed at the main water line coming into your home, ensuring your appliances, pipes, and fixtures are protected against damage from hard water. Water conditioners also don’t require electricity or drain access, making them easier to install in some situations.

Lastly, water conditioners don’t require the use of a brine solution. This makes them ideal for those areas with brine restrictions in place that limit the use of traditional water softeners. 

Whether you choose to use a traditional water softener or a water conditioner, both are effective options for dealing with the effects of hard water. If you aren’t sure which system is right for you, please contact Rayne Water today so one of our drinking water experts can walk you through your options.

We provide RO systems and water softener systems in Orange County, San Diego, Phoenix, Ventura and SoCal locations. Contact us today!

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Sources:

  1. https://www.wqa.org/learn-about-water/perceptible-issues/scale-deposits
  2. Hard Water.” Britannica Online Academic Edition, July 31, 2019.
  3. https://continuingeducation.bnpmedia.com/courses/multi-aia/the-intelligent-scale-solution–template-assisted-crystallization

Expert Reviewer – Ken Christopher

Salt Versus Salt-Free Water Softener

Posted by Rayne Water

Ever wondered what a salt vs salt free water softener is? There are two broad categories of water softening systems used to treat hard water: salt-free systems and ion-exchange systems which require the use of salt. Understanding how a salt versus salt-free water softener systems work and the advantages or disadvantages of both can be beneficial if you are exploring water softening options.

Hard Water Explained

Before diving into how does salt soften water, it is useful to gain a good understanding of how water becomes hard in the first place. Understanding this process can help you gain a better sense of how salt is used to soften water.

Water becomes hard naturally over time as it passes through soil and stone rich in minerals. The most common minerals in hard water are calcium and magnesium, usually in the form of bicarbonates, sulfates, and chlorides. Metals like iron, lead, and aluminum can also cause water to become hard.

As water percolates through ground rich in minerals it dissolves the bonds between some mineral ions, attracting these ions to the water molecule itself. These hard water minerals remain bonded to the water molecules until they are deposited as an insoluble precipitate on surfaces the water comes in contact with. These deposits are known as scale.

Water is described as “hard” when it has a high content of minerals. Alternatively, water is considered “soft” if it has a very low content of dissolved minerals. The exact hardness of your water is determined through a test that measures the number of grains-per-gallon (GPG) of calcium carbonate a sample of water contains. Once this number is determined it is compared to the water hardness scale.

The water hardness scale is as follows:

 

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Softening Water With Salt

In weighing a salt versus salt free water softener (which is actually defined as a water conditioner) it is helpful to start by understanding how systems using salt work since they are an older and more common method. Water softening systems use salt to soften water through a process known as ion-exchange.

Ion-exchange systems function by removing mineral ions from hard water and replacing them with sodium ions. Here are a few important things about this process to understand from the outset: 

A standard ion-exchange system will have two tanks. The first tank contains negatively charged resin beads and is often referred to as the resin tank. The resin beads in the tank are coated with sodium ions. The second tank contains a salty brine solution and is known as the brine tank. 

When hard water enters the water treatment system it passes through the resin tank. As it moves through the tank the mineral ions in the hard water, which are positively charged, are attracted away from the water molecule and towards the negatively charged resin. The mineral ion is exchanged with the sodium ions, allowing the water molecules to pass through the water softener system to maintain a balanced charge.

Ion-exchange water softeners are often installed where the municipal water line enters your home. This allows water softeners to provide soft water to your entire home, which is important if you want to eliminate the problems associated with hard water. These water softening systems will require access to an electrical outlet, and they will also need a drain.

Ion-exchange systems require a drain because periodically the minerals removed by the system will need to be flushed. The flushing process is fairly straightforward; salty water from the brine tank is used to fill the resin tank. The high salt content in the water replaces the minerals that have been collected on the resin with sodium ions. The remaining brine solution which now contains the minerals captured by the system is then flushed down the drain. Occasionally, the owner will have to add salt for a water softener to the brine tank for the next regeneration cycle.

Some people are apprehensive about ion-exchange systems because of the sodium content in the soft water they produce. While the softened water does contain sodium, it only contains a small amount in the water supply. The actual sodium content of the water will depend on how hard your water was when it entered your system. Harder water will require more sodium to soften.

The sodium content of softened water is very low and can’t be tasted. If you have health concerns, you can consider installing a point-of-use (POU) reverse osmosis system at your sink to provide drinking water. Reverse osmosis systems can function as a salt water filter, leaving you with softened and filtered water.

Salt-Free Water Softeners

Water softeners that don’t use salt offer an alternative to ion-exchange systems, but function in a fundamentally different way. First one must understand that a salt-free water softener is actually a water conditioner — as this is commonly mistaken. 

One way to remove the mineral content from hard water is through physical filtration. The more common salt-free method to soften water is to use a water conditioner. A salt-free water conditioner leaves the minerals in hard water but eliminates the negative impact they have around your home. Let’s take a look at each of these in greater detail to decide the best salt free water softener for you.

Physical Filtration

Physical filtration of hard water minerals is probably the least common of the three types of water softening systems, but it is worthwhile to understand because it can be a viable option. Physical filtration is the process of passing water with unwanted contaminants through a membrane containing pores small enough to allow water molecules through but not small enough to allow minerals and metals through.

Reverse osmosis systems are the most common way to filter the mineral content of hard water. Reverse osmosis systems function by forcing water at pressure through a membrane containing very small pores. Water molecules are able to pass through the pores, while the minerals and metals in hard water aren’t allowed to pass. Sodium chloride is also filtered by reverse osmosis systems, making them effective salt water filtration systems.

While highly effective at reducing minerals and other contaminants in water, reverse osmosis systems tend to be used to provide drinking water at a single tap rather than filter all of the water coming into a home. However, whole-house reverse osmosis systems are an option. The advantage of these systems is: they not only soften water by removing minerals and metals but also remove other contaminants like microbes.

Water Conditioners

Rather than softening water, salt-free systems condition the water. Water conditioning treats the water so it doesn’t cause scaling. Hard water deposits minerals like calcium and magnesium as scale, an insoluble precipitate that builds up on surfaces, fixtures, and appliances around the home.

At the core of these systems is template-assisted crystallization (TAC) media. As water passes over this special material, the calcium and magnesium bicarbonates in hard water are precipitated out of the water as small crystals, sometimes referred to as “seed-crystals”, before they can form into scale.

Normally, when hard water passes through pipes or flows over surfaces and fixtures the minerals in the water deposit on those surfaces. With conditioned water, the seed crystals created as the water passed over the TAC media are a more attractive deposit point than the surfaces the water is passing over or through.

So, with a water conditioner, the seed-crystals in the water collect the minerals before scale can form. These systems don’t actually remove the mineral content from hard water, but instead change the minerals to eliminate their harmful impact. This is distinct from ion-exchange systems that remove minerals from hard water and replace them with sodium ions.

Water conditioners can still be used to help avoid the harmful impacts of hard water. These systems are capable of providing conditioned water throughout your entire house. Additionally, water conditioners don’t require electricity, unlike ion-exchange systems. This makes them great for installation in areas of your home without ready access to an electrical outlet. 

Water conditioners are also a great way to enjoy the benefits of soft water in areas with brine restrictions. Some cities restrict the disposal of brine wastewater, which is a key component of ion-exchange systems.

Final Thoughts

If you are exploring your options for producing soft water throughout your home, you’ll come across systems using salt and systems marketed as salt-free. These systems function in distinct ways. Ion-exchange systems use salt because they exchange the mineral ions in hard water with sodium ions. 

In contrast, salt-free systems condition hard water to reduce its impact. This conditioning process involves changing the minerals contained in hard water into a crystalline structure before they can form a scale. While water conditioners don’t remove the minerals from hard water, they do ensure the harmful impacts of hard water are avoided. It is also possible to use a reverse-osmosis system to physically filter the mineral content from hard water, though this is less common as a whole-house solution.

These two different types of systems have advantages, and understanding these advantages can help guide you towards the right water softening solution for you. Water conditioners are advantageous if you live in an area with brine restrictions, or when access to electricity or a drain near the installation point is unavailable.

To learn more about the advantages of these different water softening solutions, please contact Rayne Water today. We are a trusted and reliable water softener company that has been providing clean water since 1928. We have quality experts who will be able to walk you through the available systems and provide you with a comprehensive breakdown of each. Additionally, see our guide to water softener alternatives you may not be aware of. Rayne Water is proud to serve California and Arizona. So if you need a water softener in Phoenix or a reverse osmosis system in San Diego… we’ve got you covered!

Sources:

  1. Britannica Academic, s.v. “Hard water”
  2. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/hardness-water?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
  3. https://continuingeducation.bnpmedia.com/courses/multi-aia/the-intelligent-scale-solution–template-assisted-crystallization
  4. https://www.water-rightgroup.com/blog/myths-about-water-softeners-8-things-people-get-wrong/

 

How to Remove Salt from Water

Posted by Rayne Water
*Reviewed by Ken Christopher, Senior Vice President at Rayne Dealership Corporation

If you have an ion-exchange water softening system you might be curious about how to remove salt from water. The soft water produced by ion-exchange systems contains a small amount of sodium. This small amount of sodium can’t be tasted, but some people prefer to remove sodium from their drinking water entirely. Understanding how to remove salts from water can help you determine whether augmenting your water softening system is right for you.

Soft Water and Sodium

Sodium plays a critical part in the water softening process. There are two primary ways that the impact of hard water is dealt with in a residential setting: water softeners and water conditioners. A water softener removes the mineral content of hard water and replaces it with a small number of sodium ions, while a water conditioner changes the minerals so they can’t cause scaling. Water conditioners are sometimes known as salt-free water softeners since the water conditioned by these systems doesn’t contain sodium. Learn the difference between a salt versus salt free water softener with our guide.

Water softeners function through a process known as ion-exchange. Sodium plays a critical role in this process.

Ion-Exchange

When water percolates through the soil and stone of Earth’s crust, it picks up mineral ions. These mineral ions, most often consisting of calcium and magnesium, bond to the water molecule. Once the water reaches your tap it has undergone a series of treatments, but those treatments don’t address the mineral content of the water.

Here is where an ion-exchange system comes in. These systems are usually installed where the main water line comes into your home after the water meter. These systems contain at least two tanks: a brine tank and a resin tank.

The resin tank contains small, negatively charged resin beads that have sodium ions attached to them. As hard water is piped into the resin tank and passes over the resin beads, the positively charged mineral ions attached to the water molecule are attracted to the negatively charged resin. When these mineral ions are drawn away from the water molecule they are replaced with the sodium ions which had previously been attached to the resin beads. The replacement of a positively charged mineral ion with a positively charged sodium ion allows the water molecule to retain an ionic balance.

Over time, the resin beads in the tank will have a large number of mineral ions attached to them. If these ions are not flushed from the system then eventually it will stop softening water. In order to flush the system, salty brine in the brine tank is flooded into the resin tank. The salty water displaces the mineral ions from the resin, replacing them once again with positively charged sodium ions. The brine solution containing the mineral ions is flushed from the system down the drain, and the system is ready to begin softening again.

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The Impact of Sodium in Soft Water

Some people are skeptical about water softeners which use ion-exchange because of the sodium in the soft water they produce. This is understandable, particularly because the dangers of high-sodium diets have been discussed extensively over recent decades.

To clear up any confusion, the soft water produced by these systems contains sodium (Na) and not table salt, sodium chloride (NaCl). The sodium added to the water doesn’t alter the taste of the water. Still, it is worth considering the impact of this sodium. For the average, healthy adult the sodium content in soft water poses little risk. The exact sodium content of the water produced by your system will depend on how hard it is going into the system. Harder water going into a water softener will have more sodium coming out of the system. 

For example, water containing 10 grains-per-gallon (GPG) of calcium carbonate is considered very hard on the water hardness scale. Once softened this water will contain only 74 milligrams (mg) of sodium in a quart of water or 298 mg per gallon. To put this number in perspective, each gallon of soft water provides slightly more sodium than two slices of white bread or two cups of milk.

Removing Salt From Water

While the sodium content of softened water doesn’t pose a risk to most people, some individuals require low sodium in their diets or simply prefer the sodium removed from their drinking water. If you still want the benefits of softened water but don’t want sodium in your drinking water, you’ll need to understand how to remove salinity from water.

The most common and effective way to remove salt from water is through physical filtration. Specifically, reverse osmosis systems are capable of removing salt and a wide variety of other contaminants from softened water.

Let’s take a closer look at reverse osmosis systems, which offer a method for how to remove salt from water naturally.

Reverse Osmosis System

To understand reverse osmosis, it is helpful to start with osmosis. Osmosis is all around us and is important for how our bodies function. To understand osmosis, picture two liquids on either side of a membrane. Those liquids contain different amounts of dissolved substance. On one side of the membrane, the solution has a high concentration of the dissolved substance, while the solution on the other side has a low concentration of a dissolved substance. 

In osmosis, the liquid which has a low amount of the dissolved substance will flow across the membrane to the solution with a high amount of dissolved substances. This flow will continue until the liquid on both sides of the membrane contains an equal amount of liquid and dissolved substance. The force causing this flow is known as osmotic pressure.

Reverse osmosis is the exact opposite of this natural process. Desalination is the removal of salt from seawater and is an easy way to visualize reverse osmosis in action. When water is desalinated using reverse osmosis, saltwater is forced at high pressure across a semipermeable membrane. 

In order to force the water across the membrane, the pressure used in the system must exceed the osmotic pressure. The membrane used has pores large enough to allow water molecules through, but not large enough to allow sodium ions or many other contaminants through. The result on the other side of the membrane is freshwater that has had the vast majority of sodium removed.

Benefits of Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis is a highly effective and natural method for removing sodium from softened water. At the same time, reverse osmosis systems also dramatically reduce the number of contaminants in water. 

Reverse osmosis systems are effective at removing or reducing:

Reverse osmosis systems may also contain a pre-filter to clear out any sediment and a post-filter consisting of activated carbon. Activated carbon filters are highly effective at removing many of the substances which give tap water a bad taste and smell. These include disinfectants like chlorine used in water treatment, chloramines, and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). By using a reverse osmosis system that incorporates activated carbon filtration, you’ll be sure your drinking water has fewer contaminants and a clean, filtered taste. See our guide to Does Water Have a Taste for more information.

Can You Use Both Systems?

Yes! You can use a water softener and reverse osmosis at the same time. Here’s how it works. Ion-exchange water softeners are installed as a point-of-entry (POE) system. What this means is ion-exchange systems are installed where the water line comes into the house, and are intended to provide soft water throughout the house.

If you are concerned about the sodium content of soft water, you’ll install a reverse osmosis system at the point-of-use (POU). This may be at your kitchen sink or wherever you prefer to pour your drinking water.

With this type of dual system setup, hard water enters your house and immediately enters the water softening system where mineral ions are exchanged with sodium ions. This water is then piped throughout your home. Before it hits the tap where you want to provide drinking water the soft water enters the reverse osmosis system. Here any sodium ions are removed, as well as a broad array of other contaminants. 

Using both systems in this way allows you to have the benefits of both soft water and water filtration. Softening your water ensures you won’t have to deal with the soap scum, scaling, and deposits that come with hard water. Water filtration using reverse osmosis gives you gallons of filtered, clean water.

Final Thoughts

Most people aren’t negatively affected by the sodium content of softened water, but it is important to recognize the options available to remove the salt from softened water or go with one of the best salt free water systems. The most common solution is to install a reverse-osmosis system to provide filtered, clean water. 

The benefit of this solution is that not only will sodium be removed from your drinking water, but you’ll also have peace of mind knowing many other contaminants will be removed as well. These include microbes like giardia and salmonella, nitrates, and PFAS.

To learn more about water softener alternatives and options for removing salt from your freshwater, please contact Rayne Water today.

Rayne Water is a reliable water softener company that has been providing clean drinking water since 1928. We pride ourselves in keeping your home and the community safe from drinking clean water.

 

Sources:

  1. https://academic-eb-com.prox.miracosta.edu/levels/collegiate/article/hard-water/39219
  2. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/hardness-water?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
  3. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/how-much-sodium-should-i-eat-per-day
  4. https://www.water-rightgroup.com/blog/myths-about-water-softeners-8-things-people-get-wrong/

How Does Salt Soften Water?

Posted by Rayne Water

 

*Reviewed by Ken Christopher, Senior Vice President at Rayne Dealership Corporation

One of the most common ways to soften hard water is through the use of salt. Most people who are curious about how to soften hard water naturally will lean towards the use of an ion-exchange water softener. Salt plays a critical role in the functionality of these water softening systems.

Before investing in a water softening solution, it is worthwhile to spend some time understanding how ion-exchange works, what role softening salt plays in this process, and how effective these systems are.

What is Water Hardness?

You’ve probably heard of water being described as “hard” and may understand hard water tastes, feels, and acts differently than water that isn’t hard. But why is water hard and what does water hardness mean exactly? 

Water hardness is the concept used to describe the mineral content of water. Water which contains a relatively large number of minerals is described as hard, while water with low mineral content is described as soft.

Water becomes hard through a natural process. When water falls as rain it contains little mineral content, but as it moves through soil and stone it picks up mineral ions. This is because water is an excellent solvent. When water passes through stone or soil rich in minerals it dissolves some of the ionic bonds of the minerals it comes in contact with, picking up mineral ions along the way.

For more insights on how to remove salt from water and water softener alternatives, visit our page. 

What Minerals are in Hard Water?

Any mineral can contribute to water hardness, but some minerals are much more common than others. Calcium and magnesium are the two most common minerals found in hard water in the form of bicarbonates, sulfides, and sulfates.

Metals can also cause your water to become harder. One of the most common metals found in hard water is iron, which can cause reddish-brown stains on surfaces and bathroom fixtures. Other metals like lead and aluminum may also be found in hard water.

The exact mineral content of your water will depend upon which types of soil and stone your tap water passed through. For example, if your water is sourced from an area with soil rich in limestone, your water will most likely contain a high content of calcium carbonate.

How is Water Hardness Measured?

Water isn’t either hard or soft, but rather water hardness is better thought of as a spectrum encompassing varying levels of mineral content. This is important because many of the impacts of hard water will be worse or more noticeable if your water is very hard.

The actual mineral content of your water is determined through a water test. The most common type of water hardness test will measure the content of calcium carbonate, communicated as the number of grains-per-gallon (GPG) of calcium carbonate in your water. This measurement is then compared to the water hardness scale, which offers different thresholds for water depending on its mineral content. This scale provides a useful way to describe how hard or soft your water is.

Here is the common water hardness scale:

Water is considered “soft” if it contains less than 1 GPG of calcium carbonate.

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How is Water Softened?

There are two broad categories of systems that are used to soften water: ion-exchange systems and salt-free systems. Ion-exchange systems are the more common of the two and use salt to soften water. Let’s take a look at how to soften hard water with these two types of systems.

Ion-Exchange Systems

Most whole-house water softeners use a process known as ion-exchange to remove the mineral content from hard water. These systems offer an effective way to reduce the mineral content of water without using physical filtration methods like reverse-osmosis, which makes them ideal for providing large amounts of soft water. If you have wondered, “how does salt soften water?”, the answer is through the process of ion-exchange.

Ion-exchange water softeners have two or more tanks. One softener tank contains the resin beads, while the other softener tank contains a salty brine solution. The resin beads in the ion-exchange system are positively charged and are coated with negatively charged sodium ions.

The minerals contained in hard water are also negatively charged. When hard water passes over the resin beads, the minerals contained in the water are attracted away from the water and towards the resin beads. At the same time, the sodium ions which had been attached to the resin beads are attracted to the water molecule. This exchange of mineral ions for sodium ions allows the water molecule to maintain a balanced charge.

The water leaving the system is soft and the hard minerals which were in the water are left behind on the resin beads. Periodically these systems need to be refreshed because all of the space for minerals to attach to is taken up. This is where the brine tank comes in. To regenerate the system the resin tank is flushed with salt water from the brine tank. This causes the salt in the brine to take the place of the minerals on the resin. The minerals and brine solution are then flushed from the system and down the drain, and the system is ready to begin the softening water treatment again.

Salt-Free Systems

Salt-free systems offer an alternative to ion-exchange systems, but function in a fundamentally different way. Salt-free systems like the Rayne Spartan Series are known as water conditioners rather than water softeners. 

These systems use something called template-assisted crystallization (TAC) media. Unlike ion-exchange systems that remove mineral ions from hard water and replace them with sodium ions, systems using TAC media don’t remove minerals from the water. Instead, a water conditioner changes the hardness in water to a crystalline structure which doesn’t cause scaling.

Scaling is the process where hard water deposits the minerals it contains on surfaces it passes over or through. These deposits are an insoluble precipitate, making them durable and difficult to remove or clean. The scaling caused by hard water is directly responsible for the most common hard water effects seen in residential and commercial buildings.

With conditioned water, the hard minerals in the water form seed-crystals which then attract other minerals in the water instead of coating the surfaces and fixtures around your home. The minerals are more attracted to the nano-sized seed crystals than the other surfaces they come into contact with. The best salt-free water softener, which is actually a water conditioner, will provide an end result where water still contains minerals, but those minerals don’t form scale.

Which is Better?

There are many benefits when comparing a salt versus salt-free water system. Both of these methods of softening water are highly effective at reducing the impact of hard water around your house. If you aren’t sure which type of softener system is right for you, it is probably worthwhile to talk to a water quality expert at Rayne Water.

Many people find the use of salt in an ion-exchange system problematic and wonder how much sodium in softened water provided by their systems. While the water produced by ion-exchange systems does contain sodium, it is only a small amount. The exact amount added to your water depends on how hard water was before treatment, so providing an exact amount is difficult. Sodium (Na) is also distinct from salt (NaCL), which is worth keeping in mind.

Most healthy adults won’t have an issue with the sodium used to soften water, nor will they taste it. However, if you are concerned about the amount of sodium in softened water you can consider adding a reverse-osmosis system at your kitchen sink to provide filtered drinking water. Not only do reverse-osmosis systems dramatically reduce a wide range of contaminants contained in water, but they also remove the sodium used to soften water.

Salt-free systems may be advantageous for reasons other than not using salt. Because they don’t use softening salt, these systems are great for areas with brine restrictions in place. Some areas greatly restrict the discharge of brine, like the type used in ion-exchange systems. Usually, these types of restrictions exist in arid regions or areas experiencing drought.

Salt-free systems also don’t require electricity or drainage like ion-exchange systems. This can make the installation process easier in some situations.

Final Thoughts

Salt is critical for water softening systems that use ion-exchange. These systems remove the minerals in hard water and replace them with sodium ions. This process is gentle, natural, and is excellent for providing soft water to an entire home or building.

Concerns about the sodium levels in softened-water are generally unwarranted. The sodium content in softened water is low and doesn’t affect the taste of the water. However, for individuals with health concerns, the sodium used to soften water can be removed with a reverse osmosis system. Alternatively, in areas with brine restrictions, salt-free solutions like the Rayne Spartan Series which rely on TAC media to crystallize the minerals in hard water can offer a great way to avoid the harmful impacts of hard water.

To learn more about water softening solutions and if water has a taste or not, please contact Rayne Water today.

Sources:

  1. Britannica Academic, s.v. “Hard water,”https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/hardness-water?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
  2. https://continuingeducation.bnpmedia.com/courses/multi-aia/the-intelligent-scale-solution–template-assisted-crystallization
  3. https://www.water-rightgroup.com/blog/myths-about-water-softeners-8-things-people-get-wrong/

Expert Reviewer – Ken Christopher

Does Water Have a Taste?

Posted by Rayne Water

If you are drinking the daily amount of water recommended by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, you should be consuming around 3.7 liters of water if you are a man or 2.7 liters of water for women. Only 20% of this amount is estimated to come from the food you eat, leaving a fairly large amount of water to drink.

For many people, drinking this amount of water each day is made more difficult by how their water tastes. But does water have a taste? At Rayne Water, we say the short answer is yes, but the factors influencing how your water tastes may surprise you.

What Does Water Taste Like?

It’s inherently difficult to describe the taste of something like water. Taste is a subjective experience, and for most of us we know when drinking water tastes good and when it doesn’t.

One of the main factors influencing taste is the mineral content of water. The easiest way to see the influence of minerals on the taste of water is to compare the taste of distilled water with regular tap water or mineral water. Distilled water has had any dissolved solids removed from it, and for most people, it tastes bland or flat. This is particularly true if you compare it to water containing minerals.

The mineral content of your water is sometimes expressed as the number of total dissolved solids (TDS) in a sample of water. A higher number of TDS means your water has a higher mineral content, while a lower TDS means your water has lower mineral content.

But minerals aren’t the only factor influencing the taste of your water. Let’s take a look at some of the other things in your water which might alter the taste, and how to make your water taste better if these contaminants are in your water.

Disinfectants

If you are like most people in the United States then you probably get your water from a municipal water supplier rather than a well. While well-water isn’t treated, community water suppliers do treat the water passing through their salt-free systems to ensure the water is safe for consumption when it is delivered.

One of the most common treatments for tap water is to add chlorine to it. Chlorination is used to kill any microbes like giardia or salmonella. While chlorine treatment is highly effective and makes public water supplies safer as a whole, it also alters the taste of the water. Next time you pour a glass of water from your tap, take the time to smell it. You’ll almost certainly notice your tap water smells like chlorine.

Removing disinfectants and their byproducts from your water will require the use of a filtration system utilizing activated carbon. Activated carbon is highly effective at capturing disinfectants and their byproducts, as well as a variety of other chemicals.

Get started today! We specialize in providing the purest water possible!

Hydrogen Sulfide or Bacteria

Do you find yourself wondering why your water smells like sulfur? The answer might not be very pleasant. The smell some people describe as sulfur or a rotten egg is usually the result of bacteria or hydrogen sulfide in the water. 

Hydrogen sulfide is a naturally occurring gas commonly found in tap water. The Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t consider hydrogen sulfide a primary or secondary contaminant, but there may be some detrimental effects alongside the foul smell and unpleasant taste. Very high levels may result in nausea or stomach pain, while concentrations greater than 0.5 parts per million (ppm) can corrode pipes or metal, as well as alter the taste of your food and beverages.

If your water has sulfur or rotten egg smell, the most effective solution is to use an activated carbon filtration system.

Chlorides and Sodium

If your water tastes salty there are two likely culprits: chlorides or sodium. Chloride is a common salt compound that can enter the water supply from rocks containing chloride, wastewater, sewage leaks, or agricultural runoff. Sodium may be found in softened water as a byproduct of the ion-exchange process but this should not alter the taste of water.

If your tap water suddenly becomes salty, it is a good idea to report it to your water supplier because it can be an indication of unwanted contaminants entering your water supply. However, if your water is always slightly salty, you’ll want to utilize a reverse-osmosis (RO) system. RO systems use a membrane to filter out tiny contaminants, including chloride and sodium. Using this system will help you learn how to remove salt from water in an easy and efficient way.

For more insights, we’ll tell you the best salt-free water system and some great water softener alternatives for your home.

Final Thoughts

Not all water tastes the same. The flavor of water can be influenced by a variety of factors, including the mineral content of the water or the presence of other contaminants. The smell of chlorine is a byproduct of the disinfection process most tap water goes through, while a sulfur smell stems from hydrogen sulfide. Water may taste salty if the chloride content of your tap water is high as well.

Removing these tastes from water simply requires having the right filtration system in place. Hydrogen sulfide and chlorine can be effectively removed through the use of activated carbon filtration, while sodium and chlorides can be effectively removed with a reverse osmosis system. Many reverse osmosis systems include a post-filter using activated carbon, which makes these systems effective at removing a wide range of contaminants which cause your water to taste or smell bad.

The best way to find out what’s in your water is to schedule a water test with a Rayne Water technician. A water test can let you know what contaminants are influencing the taste of your water, and our knowledgeable technicians can outline the filtration systems that can deliver clean, filtered drinking water that’s crisp and great tasting.

If you want to learn the difference between salt versus salt-free water system or how salt is used in softening water, visit our page and contact Rayne Water today.

Find a location near you!

Sources:

  1. http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2004/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-Water-Potassium-Sodium-Chloride-and-Sulfate.aspx
  2. https://www.livescience.com/54521-tap-water-tastes.html
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/does-water-have-a-taste#sense-of-taste
  4. https://www.cooksillustrated.com/science/854-articles/story/why-does-water-from-different-places-taste-different
  5. https://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=C858-15&title=Removal%20of%20Hydrogen%20Sulfide%20and%20Sulfate
  6. http://aesl.ces.uga.edu/publications/watercirc/HydrogenSulfide.pdf

 

Best Salt Free Water Softener

Posted by Rayne Water

Hard water causes a number of problems around the home. Any surface hard water comes into contact with will experience scaling. Soap scum will form when hard water comes into contact with soap, and the minerals in hard water can cause damage to your clothes, skin and hair.

While water softening is a time-proven method to deal with water hardness, there are also great water softeners alternatives that can eliminate the hard water problems you are experiencing around your house. This is especially important for people in areas with brine restrictions in place. These alternatives don’t require the use of salt. Understanding these options can help you determine between a salt versus salt free water softener or a water conditioner system.

Water Conditioners vs Water Softeners

The best salt free water softener is actually a water conditioner and by definition is not a water softener. The best salt free water conditioners eliminate the effects of hard water through a process that is fundamentally different from traditional water softeners. Let’s take a look at how water softening and water conditioning systems function:

Water Softeners

Wondering “How does salt soften water?” Water softeners use a process known as ion exchange to remove hard minerals from water. To do this, water softeners use a tank filled with negatively charged resin beads. These beads have positively charged sodium ions attached to them. The hard minerals in water are also positively charged.

When hard water enters the system, the hard minerals are attracted away from the water molecule and towards the resin beads. The water molecule then picks up the displaced sodium ion to maintain a balanced charge. The water exiting the system is now soft but does contain a small amount of sodium.

There is relatively little sodium in softened water. For individuals concerned with sodium in their water, one of the best options is to install a reverse osmosis water filtration system at a specific sink. Reverse osmosis filtration systems are capable of removing sodium from softened water, as well as many other contaminants you may not want to consume.

Get started today! We specialize in providing the purest water possible!

Water Conditioners

Rather than remove hard minerals from gallons of water, a water conditioner can change those minerals. Using a material known as template-assisted crystallization (TAC) media, a Rayne Spartan water conditioners cause a small portion of the mineral content in hard water to crystallize. These crystals are sometimes called seed-crystals because they begin to attract the other minerals in the water.

By causing these small crystals to form, water conditioners create a site other minerals in the hard water will preferentially attach to. This means instead of attaching to the pipes, fixtures, and surfaces around your home, the hard minerals in conditioned water will bond to themselves in their crystalline form — increasing the flow rate and keeps your plumbing pipes clean.

One thing to note about this process is the crystals formed by hard minerals are tiny. They are so small you can’t see or feel them, but they will still affect the taste of the water. Since some people prefer the taste of water with some mineral content, this can actually be a benefit. For those individuals who prefer to filter the mineral content out of their water, using a reverse osmosis filtration system for drinking water is a good option.

Like water softeners, water conditioners are installed at the main water line coming into your house water filter. This ensures all of the water moving throughout your home is conditioned. With whole-house water conditioning, you’ll completely eliminate the most common hard water problems including faucets scaling and soap scum in your water supply.

Advantages of Water Conditioners

Water conditioners have a couple of features that can make them attractive in certain situations.

At Rayne Water, our salt-free water conditioners also incorporate other types of filtration, allowing them to reduce disinfectants used to treat tap water such as chlorine, as well as chloramines, suspended solids, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other substances which can give your drinking water a bad odor or taste. For more information, see our guide to Does Water Have a Taste.

Final Thoughts

Although most people use and have great experiences with water softeners, for a variety of reasons you may want to consider salt-free alternatives. Some people prefer the taste of water with minerals, some are concerned about sodium intake, and some live in areas with brine restrictions.

Whatever the reason, the best non salt water softener is in fact not a water softener at all, it is known as a water conditioner. Water conditioners don’t remove hard minerals like calcium and magnesium from water, but rather change it into a crystalline form that doesn’t attach to the surfaces, fixtures, and appliances it comes into contact with. Additionally, see our guide to How to Remove Salt from Water for a detailed explanation.

Water conditioners are an effective and efficient method of dealing with hard water for your entire home. To learn more about water conditioners for your home, please contact Rayne Water today — with us, it’s easy to install.

Find a location near you!

Sources:

  1. https://continuingeducation.bnpmedia.com/courses/multi-aia/the-intelligent-scale-solution–template-assisted-crystallization
  2. https://www.water-rightgroup.com/blog/myths-about-water-softeners-8-things-people-get-wrong/
  3. http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/html/g1491/build/g1491.htm

 

What to Look For In a Water Filter

Posted by Rayne Water

With the various types of water filters out there, finding the right system doesn’t have to be as confusing or challenging as it might seem. Knowing what to look for in a water filter can help you seek out the features that will give you the most benefit. Understanding common water filter features can help you separate hype from what really works, leaving you with a system that will meet your needs for years to come.

Water Filtration Breakdown

Let’s start by discussing what water filtration is. Water filtration is the process of removing contaminants or unwanted substances from contaminated water through the use of physical, chemical, or biological media. 

In a residential setting, this is most often done through the use of physical filtration using a semipermeable membrane in reverse osmosis systems, or a multi-media system with at least one filter consisting of activated carbon.

Water Filtration vs. Water Softening

Water softeners also remove unwanted material from a water source, but it is important to understand how water softening systems and clean water filtration systems are different. In a sense, water softening is a type of filtration because they remove hard minerals from water. These minerals are usually calcium carbonate and magnesium, but water softeners can also remove heavy metals that contribute to water hardness like lead, copper, and iron.

Water softening systems function through a process known as ion exchange. Hard water is passed through a tank containing resin beads with sodium ions attached. As the water passes over these beads, the mineral ions attached to the water molecule are attracted to the resin beads and replaced with a sodium ion. Periodically, the minerals attached to the beads are flushed from the system.

In contrast, water filtration involves passing water through a physical object through which water molecules can pass but many contaminants cannot. 

Here’s where it gets tricky; some water filtration systems can provide water softening as well. For example, reverse osmosis systems can soften water by reducing the content of minerals and heavy metals contained in the water source. The reverse is not true. Unless a water softening system has pre- and post-filtration using another type of media like activated carbon, it will not filter out common contaminants like disinfectants, microbes, solvents, or pesticides.

Due to this, many people who want the benefits of soft water but also want filtered drinking water use systems that offer both softening and filtration, or use both a water softener and a water filtration system in their home.

Get started today! We specialize in providing the purest water possible!

What Contaminants are in Your Water?

In the United States, unless your water comes from a private well, it has probably been treated in some way before it enters your home. In spite of this, tap water often contains contaminants that you may not want to drink or use to bathe. Despite regulations that should ensure our drinking water is safe from outside pollutants, each year drinking water violations occur that expose individuals to potentially harmful chemicals. At the same time, the chemicals used to disinfect contaminated water may not be ideal for long-term consumption.

Here are a few of the most commonly found contaminants in tap water across the United States:

Water quality violations occur all the time, but we often don’t know about them until after the fact. This highlights the importance of having an effective filtration system in place even before you know that a violation has occurred.

In order to choose the most effective filtration system to meet your needs, it’s a good idea to have the water in your home tested. While you can get a fairly good sense of the state of your tap water through water quality reports that most community water suppliers in the United States publish, those reports only provide a snapshot of water quality. They also don’t account for contaminants that might be picked up through the delivery system on the way to your house, such as lead being leached from the pipes.

Getting the water tested in your home is a great starting point for narrowing down the water filtration system that will meet your needs. It is also important to understand water quality changes over time depending on a variety of factors. Utilizing a filtration system that can remove or reduce a broad spectrum of contaminants can help protect against short-term increases in contaminants.

Water Filter Features

Each filtered water system has a variety of features that may seem daunting at first. Let’s take a look at some of the most important water filter features, why they are important, and what they might mean for you.

Filtration Method

Most water filtration systems will feature their filtration method first, or list the filtration methods if more than one is being used by the system.

The two most common filtration methods are activated carbon filters or reverse osmosis filters. This feature will be a decisive factor in your search for a water filter because each filtration method is effective at some contaminants but not others.

Reverse osmosis is effective against:

Activated carbon filters are effective against:

Reverse osmosis filters are highly effective at removing a range of contaminants that are often the source of water quality violations. These include bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli, protozoa like Giardia, heavy metals, nitrates which enter the water from fertilizer runoff, and arsenic which is commonly found in wells.

In contrast, activated carbon filters tend to be more effective against organic compounds, as well as disinfectants like chlorine which are used in water treatment. These substances can give water a bad odor and taste as well. Activated carbon filters won’t capture the heavy metals, mineral ions, and microbes that an RO system will. 

Once you’ve had your water tested you should have a better idea of what contaminants your water contains. This can guide you towards a system that is going to be most effective at filtering the water at your tap. However, you may also consider combining both of these filtration methods. This has the advantage of removing a broad spectrum of contaminants from your drinking water.

Total Dissolved Solids

Most filtered water systems will provide you with the number of total dissolved solids (TDS) that they remove. Most people aren’t sure exactly what TDS are, so let’s break down this term is and what you should be looking for in a water filter system.

TDS refers to the number of salts, minerals, and organic matter that is in a sample of water. Most often, these dissolved solids consist of calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfate, nitrate, and chloride. This is expressed in terms of mg/L.

The dissolved solids in your tap water enter the water supply in a number of ways, some natural and some not. Sources of these solids include industrial wastewater, agricultural runoff, sewage, and even road de-icing. Natural processes can also increase the number of TDS in water. For example, as water passes through chalky soil it can pick up calcium carbonate which hardens the water naturally.

Even though the TDS in your tap water is probably altering the taste of your water, you’ll need to have your water tested to tell exactly what the TDS of your water is. Water filtration systems often feature the reduction rate for TDS. Choose a system that offers a high removal rate for TDS. Many systems will offer a range of TDS they remove, such as 93% – 97% of TDS. So, for a sample of water with a TDS of 300 mg/L, water produced by a high-end reverse osmosis system will have only 9 – 15 mg/L TDS.

Output

One last feature to pay attention to is the output of the desired system. Water filter systems have a wide range of outputs. Point-of-use systems might have an output of 10-50 gallons-per-day (GPD). Whole-house filters, such as point-of-entry systems that provide filtration or conditioning for your whole house might have an output of thousands of GPD. 

35 – 50 gallons a day will be more than sufficient for providing drinking water for everyone in your house, making ice cubes and coffee, or doing the dishes. But if you want to have your shower water filtered, you will probably want to look for a system that has a higher output.

Final Thoughts

Water filtration can be a confusing topic to dive into. This breakdown should help you identify the water filter features that matter most. The type of filtration method that the system uses is the most important feature you should be mindful of, as this will determine which contaminants the system is removing from your water. If you’re interested in more information, visit our guide comparing water filters vs. reverse osmosis systems.

Being mindful of the TDS removal capability of the system is important as well as an indicator of how effective the system actually is at reducing certain contaminants. The output of the system you end up with will largely depend on how to install the water filter and what you need it for. Point-of-use systems tend to have a lower output and are more appropriate to provide filtered drinking water at a specific tap, while point-of-entry systems filter or condition clean water for your entire house.

Before investing in a water filtration system you should consider having your water tested. Having a better understanding of what contaminants are in your water can help guide you towards the system that is right for your needs. At the same time, consider investing in a system that uses more than one filtration method. For example, a system that utilizes reverse-osmosis with pre- and post-filtration through activated carbon will reduce a wider range of contaminants than a reverse-osmosis system on its own. This will help protect you against contaminants that may appear in your water supply in the future.

To learn more about water filter options or to schedule a water quality test, please contact Rayne Water today.

Sources:

  1. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/12/31/ask-well-should-you-filter-your-water/
  2. https://www.explainthatstuff.com/howwaterfilterswork.html
  3. https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/energy/question209.htm
  4. https://semspub.epa.gov/work/HQ/158701.pdf
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/pdf/drinking/Household_Water_Treatment.pdf
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/home-water-treatment/household_water_treatment.html
  7. https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/chemicals/tds.pdf

 

Water Filter vs. Reverse Osmosis

Posted by Rayne Water

 

*Reviewed by Ken Christopher, Senior Vice President at Rayne Dealership Corporation

Are you curious about the differences between how water filters and reverse osmosis systems function? While both types of systems are used to reduce the number of contaminants in a sample of water, they function in quite different ways.

By understanding the differences between a water filter vs RO water filter system, you’ll be better informed and positioned to find the water filtration system that is right for your needs. Both reverse osmosis and water filters have advantages that make them ideal for certain applications. However, you may find that you want the benefits of both systems for your home water filtration; in which case, you may choose to invest in a system that combines both filtration methods. Here’s how a water filter differs from a reverse osmosis water system.

What is Reverse Osmosis?

Reverse osmosis (RO) systems use reverse osmosis to dramatically reduce the number of contaminants in water. We will now discuss how reverse osmosis works and what it is.

To fully understand the reverse osmosis process, it is helpful to start with osmosis. Osmosis is a natural process that is critical for our lives and the lives of all living creatures around us. Osmosis is the movement of a solvent through a membrane from a solution with a low concentration of solute to a solution with a high concentration of solute.

The solvent or fluid that passes through a membrane in osmosis is usually water. The membrane must be semi-permeable, meaning it allows some molecules to pass but not others. Solutes are any dissolved substances in the solution on either side of the membrane. Osmosis continues until the solutions on both sides of the membrane reach a state of equilibrium.

Reverse osmosis turns this process completely around. In a reverse osmosis filtered water system, you have a solution with a high concentration of solutes forced across a semi-permeable membrane to a solution with a low concentration of solutes. In reverse osmosis, an external force greater than the osmotic pressure is required to force a solvent across a membrane.

Reverse osmosis is used primarily to reduce the number of contaminants in water, so let’s put the reverse osmosis process in real terms. With an RO water system, you start with water that contains a higher number of contaminants. You force that water through a semi-permeable membrane that allows the solvent (water) to pass through the membrane but not the other contaminants or solutes that are in the original solution. On the other side of the membrane is the solution with a low number of solutes, or rather water with substantially fewer contaminants.

What is a Water Filter?

There are various types of water filters but all are devices that contain one or more filtration media to reduce the number of contaminants in water. One thing you might have noticed at this point is that reverse osmosis seems to filter contaminants from water. Reverse osmosis is a common type of water filtration, so what exactly are clean water filters and how are they different?

It’s important to understand what to look for in a water filter since they use a different type of filtration method to reduce the number of contaminants in water. They also reduce different types of contaminants than an RO system does in some cases. The most common type of filtration media found in water filters is activated carbon. 

The activated carbon used in these types of filters is a special type of charcoal that has been treated with oxygen to increase the surface area of the carbon. How big of a surface area? It is estimated that 1 gram of activated carbon has a surface area of over 32,000 feet. This is important because it is this surface area that attracts and traps contaminants through a process known as adsorption. 

Adsorption is the process through which a solid holds or traps a gas or a liquid. In this case, the porous nature of activated carbon gives it lots of little areas where contaminants are attracted to the carbon and then trapped there.

Get started today! We specialize in providing the purest water possible!

How Do These Systems Compare?

Most people want to know whether a water filter or reverse osmosis water filtration system is more effective at reducing the number of contaminants in water. To fully answer this question it is important to understand that these systems are both highly effective at removing contaminants, but that they remove slightly different contaminants.

In general, here’s what activated carbon filters remove from water:

Activated carbon filters are excellent at removing organic compounds, but aren’t effective at reducing other contaminants. These include minerals such as calcium and magnesium that cause water hardness, heavy metals like lead, salts, fluorine, or microbes.

RO water systems tend to be effective at reducing these contaminants from water:

An RO filter is less effective at removing organic chemicals like Benzene and Toluene, Trihalomethanes (THMs), solvents, and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). A second thing worth noting about reverse osmosis water filtration systems is that they produce a small amount of wastewater as part of the filtration process. This wastewater carries away the contaminants that have been removed from the water that passes through the system.

Which System is Right For You?

We’ve outlined how both pure water filter and reverse osmosis water filter methods function plus their advantages and disadvantages. If you are still considering the advantages of a clean water filter vs reverse osmosis filtration system, it may be helpful to consider how you are going to use the system and what you are trying to remove.

Have Your Water Tested

It is beneficial to have your water quality tested. You can get a general idea of what contaminants are contained in your tap water by reading the water quality report released by your municipal water supplier. Most community water suppliers will periodically test their water and release their findings once or more a year.

While a water quality report may give you a better sense of what’s in your water, in order to get a real insight into what contaminants are in your water you’ll need to have your water tested. If you’d like to have your water tested at your home, contact Rayne to schedule a water test. Our staff can test your water and tell you exactly which contaminants are in your water supply to ensure you have safe and great tasting water all the time. Understanding which contaminants you need to remove can make the decision about which filtration method you should invest in clear.

Consider Your Use Case

How you plan on using your water filtration system may make one system the obvious choice. Do you simply want filtered drinking water? You may consider a point-of-use option like a reverse osmosis system that can be installed under your sink faucet. These systems don’t take up much space and provide many gallons of fresh drinking water every day. 

Do you want filtration for your entire house? If so, you may find yourself looking at hybrid multi-media systems or whole-house water filtration systems. While reverse-osmosis systems can be found for your entire house, they are more commonly used to provide drinking water rather than as a whole-house solution. 

If you still aren’t sure about water filters vs reverse osmosis systems, you may consider a combination of both. In this situation, you would use a pure water filter using activated carbon installed where tap water is piped into your house, as well as a reverse-osmosis system to provide drinking water at your sink faucet. Alternatively, many of Rayne’s RO systems integrate pre- and post-filtration processes using activated carbon, which removes many of the contaminants that aren’t removed during reverse osmosis. You now may be wondering “How much do water filters cost?”.

Final Thoughts

Weighing the advantages and differences between a water filter vs RO system can be confusing at first. With water filters, water passes through one or more physical filtration media to reduce the number of contaminants. Typically these systems rely on granulated activated carbon, which has an enormous surface area that allows it to trap contaminants. Activated carbon filters are excellent at reducing organic compounds and chemicals in water, and reducing the bad taste and odor in tap water.

In contrast to pure water filters, reverse osmosis systems force contaminated water through a membrane that has very small pores. These pores keep most contaminants out of the filtered water that is produced on the other end.

Do reverse osmosis water filters remove minerals and are they as effective as pure water filters? Reverse osmosis filtration systems are very effective at reducing a wide range of contaminants, including salts and nitrates, bacteria, protozoa, viruses, arsenic, heavy metals, and minerals. Either way, choosing a pure water filter or a reverse osmosis filter is a great step for water purification and keeping harmful contaminants out.

Still curious whether to choose a reverse osmosis water filter or a pure water filter? If you aren’t sure which type of filtration system is right for you, consider having your water tested by one of our professional staff at Rayne Water. Water testing can tell you which contaminants are in your tap water supply. This can help guide you towards the system that will be most effective for your particular needs to give you gallons of purified water every day. To schedule a water test, please contact Rayne Water today.

Whether you need a water softener system in Ventura or reverse osmosis systems in Phoenix, Glendale, and other areas of AZ., we are here to help.

Need a commercial reverse osmosis system in California? We also provide water filtration and water treatment solutions to Northern and Southern California. Check out all of our CA locations!

Sources:

  1. https://www.explainthatstuff.com/howwaterfilterswork.html
  2. https://www.carbonblocktech.com/the-science-behind-activated-carbon-water-filters/
  3. https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/energy/question209.htm
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/home-water-treatment/household_water_treatment.html
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/home-water-treatment/water-filters.html

Expert Reviewer – Ken Christopher

Types of Water Filters

Posted by Rayne Water

 

*Reviewed by Ken Christopher, Senior Vice President at Rayne Dealership Corporation

Are you considering filtering your tap water but aren’t sure about different types of water filters? Water filtration can be a tricky topic. Having some basic background information about the types of water filters for home and what to look for in a water filter can help clear up any confusion and provide you with purified water throughout your home.

While you might think of different types of water filters as similar, there are some significant differences that you should be aware of before you invest in a system. Understanding which contaminants a filtration system is effective against and which contaminants it isn’t effective against can help you find the system that is appropriate for filtering your tap water. 

An Introduction to Filtration

Before discussing the different types of water filtration systems available, it is helpful to first have a broad overview of filtration itself and why it is necessary. 

Water filters for residential use may use a combination of physical, chemical, or biological processes for reducing or removing contaminants from water entering a home. Residential water filters tend to use physical filtration media most often. What this means is water containing contaminants is run through a physical media that absorbs, traps, or stops the contaminants.

Contaminants in water can be liquids, gases, or dissolved and suspended solids. Not all filters are effective against all types of contaminants. While one type of filtration method may be highly effective against certain types of contaminants, such as protozoa or bacteria, it may not be as effective at removing chemicals. 

Put another way, each filtration method has advantages and disadvantages for removing certain types of contaminants. Because of this, many filtration systems utilize more than one filtration method within the same system. Sometimes these are referred to as multimedia hybrid systems, which is a reference to the multiple types of filtration media contained within the system itself.

Point-Of-Use vs. Point-Of-Entry

Which kind of filtration system you use will ultimately come down to how you plan on using your water filter, what you need it for, and other factors like your lifestyle, budget, and living situation. In a residential setting, there are two broad categories of filtration systems.

The first category is “point-of-use” (POU) systems. These water purification systems are installed where you are planning on using them. The easiest example is a system installed under a sink to provide filtered drinking water. The advantage of these types of house water filtration systems is that they have a smaller footprint and are typically less of an investment. The downside is that contaminants are only reduced on the line where the system is installed. So, while you’ll have fewer contaminants in your drinking water, the water you bathe or shower with will still contain a higher level of contaminants.

The second category is “point-of-entry” (POE) systems. POE systems are installed where municipal water enters your house, and are intended to filter all of the water throughout your house rather than at a single faucet. The advantage of these systems is that they reduce or remove contaminants everywhere in your house, including your showers and every sink. This can make a big difference, not only to lessen exposure to specific chemicals but also to increase the longevity and effectiveness of certain appliances if you are using a system that softens hard water.

The downside of POE systems is that they typically require more of an investment than a point-of-use system. Also, certain filtration methods like reverse osmosis tend to be used at the point-of-use, though Rayne does offer reverse osmosis water filter systems for your whole house, so it is always an option if you find that your use and circumstances require reverse osmosis filtered water at every tap in your home. If you’d like further information, view our guide to how to install water filters.

Common Filtration Methods

The two most common types of water purification methods are reverse osmosis and granulated activated carbon. It is also worth taking the time to understand water softening systems since these are sometimes used in conjunction with one or more of the other filtration methods to filter out a broad spectrum of contaminants. Let’s take a look at each of these house water filtration methods in greater detail.

Reverse Osmosis

If you are looking for residential water filtration options you will definitely run across reverse osmosis (RO) systems, so gaining a better understanding of how these systems work will help you determine if they are right for you.

As the name would imply, reverse osmosis water filter systems turn around the natural process of osmosis. In osmosis, a liquid naturally flows from a solution with a low concentration of solutes to a solution with a high concentration of solutes. This flow occurs across a semipermeable membrane, such as the cell wall of a plant’s roots or the cells in our body. Osmosis is how plants absorb water from the soil. Water flows from the soil which has a low nutrient density and into the plant which has a high nutrient density.

In terms of water treatment, reverse osmosis systems function by forcing water that contains contaminants through a specially constructed membrane with very small pores. Those pores only let water molecules and some very small contaminants through, while the majority of contaminants or unwanted particles are left behind and disposed of.

The easiest way to visualize reverse osmosis is by looking at desalination plants, which use reverse osmosis to remove salt from seawater. To desalinate water, salt water is forced through a membrane at high pressure. The membrane allows water molecules through but doesn’t allow salt through, so the end result is purified water.

Reverse osmosis is a powerful filtration method but like all filtration methods, it doesn’t remove all contaminants.

RO systems are effective at removing:

RO systems are less effective at removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), as well as chemical disinfectants that are used to treat water such as chlorine. Because of this, many RO systems integrate pre- and post-filters, often using activated carbon, which filters out many of the contaminants and particles not filtered by the reverse osmosis process itself.

 

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Activated Carbon

Activated carbon is probably the most common type of media used in residential filtration systems. It may simply be referred to as activated carbon or granulated activated carbon (GAC). Activated carbon is a type of charcoal that has been treated with oxygen or heat. This treatment dramatically increases the surface area of the carbon. To get a sense of how large the surface area of this filtration media is, approximately 1 gram of activated carbon has a surface area of roughly 32,000 feet.

The vast surface area of activated carbon is important because it filters contaminants through a process known as adsorption. Adsorption is the process where a solid, in this case, carbon, traps molecules of a gas, liquid, or solute on its surface. As tap water flows through the activated carbon granules in the filter, contaminants are trapped on the surface of the carbon while the water continues to flow through. Eventually, activated carbon filters will need to be replaced as the available surface area for adsorption to occur diminishes.

Activated carbon is effective at removing the following contaminants from water:

While activated carbon is excellent at removing the chemicals and compounds that give tap water an unpleasant taste and odor, it is less effective at removing other contaminants. These include heavy metals and mineral ions that contribute to water hardness, nitrates, microbes, and fluoride which is often used in water treatment in the United States.

Water Softening Systems

Water softening systems are not usually lumped together with water filters, but it is worth spending a moment understanding exactly what these systems remove from your water.

Water softener systems remove the mineral ions that contribute to water hardness through a process known as ion exchange. As water flows through the system, mineral ions are attracted to resin beads in the system and replaced with sodium ions. 

Water softener systems remove minerals such as calcium and magnesium, as well as heavy metals such as lead, copper, or iron. They don’t remove other contaminants such as microbes, VOCs, pesticides, or solvents. Typically, water softening systems are point-of-entry systems that soften water for the whole house. Often they are combined with other point-of-use filtration systems, such as an RO system installed under a sink to provide safe drinking water.

Final Thoughts

The two most common types of filtration systems for residential use are systems using reverse osmosis or activated carbon filters. Both of these systems are effective at removing contaminants, but the exact type of contaminants they remove are different. Because of this, many filtration systems actually combine both filtration methods to offer a broad spectrum of contaminant removal.

For example, many RO systems have pre- and post-filters, at least one of which uses activated carbon, which helps the system remove contaminants not captured by reverse osmosis.

Determining which of the types of water filters is right for you can be difficult. We recommend starting with a test of your water supply so that you can have a firm understanding of exactly which contaminants you need to be concerned about. From there, you can narrow down the systems that will meet your needs — in terms of living style and cost of water filters. If you’re looking for information on price, visit our guide to How Much Do Water Filters Cost.

To learn more about water filter options or to schedule a home water test, please contact Rayne Water today.

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Sources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/home-water-treatment/household_water_treatment.html
  2. https://www.explainthatstuff.com/howwaterfilterswork.html
  3. https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/energy/question209.htm
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/pdf/drinking/Household_Water_Treatment.pdf
  5. https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/hazardous/topics/gac.html#GACuse
  6. https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/c-s1-05.pdf

Expert Reviewer – Ken Christopher

How to Install Water Filters

Posted by Rayne Water

Installing a new water filter can be a great investment, but in many cases, the installation process can be daunting. How to install a water filter will depend on which type of filtration system you have and how your home is configured.

Proper installation of clean water filters is essential for them to function correctly. Because of this, it is often preferable to have a professional do the installation for you. We’ll explore the installation process and explain why a professional can help make the process as easy and seamless as possible.

Considerations for Installing Water Filters

If you are exploring how to install water filters, there are a couple of key considerations that will help you determine the installation process. There are different types of water filters, and many will require a unique process to properly install. Let’s take a look at some of the most important considerations that will impact how to install a water filter.

Point-of-Use or Point-of-Entry?

The first major decision that will determine the installation process for your water filter is where your filter is going to be installed. Water filters can be broken down into two broad categories; point-of-use (POU) and point-of-entry (POE).

Point-of-use systems are used to provide water at a discrete location within your home. Often this is at your kitchen sink to provide filtered drinking water. Some point-of-use systems are small enough to be installed under your sink, while others must be installed nearby and piped in.

In contrast, point-of-entry systems are installed where the municipal water line comes into your house. Point-of-entry systems are designed to condition or filter the water supply going throughout your entire home. 

Each different system will require unique considerations. Systems designed to deliver filtered water at a single tap will battle space constraints, while whole- water filter house systems tend to be larger. Both systems will require modification of existing plumbing, so a high degree of knowledge about plumbing and comfort working with it is required.

What Type of System?

Depending on whether you are installing a reverse-osmosis system, a water filter that uses activated carbon, or a water softener, you’ll have different considerations for your installation. Each of these systems functions differently, and those differences result in different needs for installation.

Reverse-osmosis filters and water softening systems both need a way to expel wastewater containing unwanted contaminants. To understand this better, let’s take a look at how reverse osmosis and water softening systems work since these are the most common types of residential water filtration systems.

Reverse osmosis systems take tap water and force it across a membrane at high pressure. The membrane in the system is semi-permeable, meaning water can pass through it but sediment or other molecules larger than the pores in the membrane cannot. The size of the pores in the membrane will be a determining factor in which contaminants it keeps out. 

While most of the water entering reverse-osmosis water filtration systems is pushed through the membrane and comes out filtered, a small percentage of water is not. This water contains the concentrated contaminants that were left behind during the process and must be flushed down a drain, which is usually done through a drain line.

Ease of Access

Most water filters will require some type of maintenance over the years, so taking the time beforehand to consider how to maximize access can save you a lot of headaches down the road. Take the time to fully understand the maintenance process before you install your system so that you can identify any potential problems beforehand.

Many water filtration systems have more than one filtration media installed, which may need to be replaced at different intervals and involve a different process to complete. Walking through each of these procedures before you begin the installation can help you identify any shortcomings with your installation location.

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The Advantages of Professional Installation

The truth is, you should probably leave installing your house water filtration system to the professionals. Even if you are handy and have a familiarity with plumbing, there are some very good reasons why the professionals at Rayne Water can help save you time and stress.

Product Knowledge

The professionals who work with water filtration systems every day know what’s needed to ensure the installation goes smoothly. Most water filtration systems have requirements that are unique for them to function correctly. Having a deep understanding of the product itself is advantageous and helps ensure the installation process runs smoothly.

Experience

No two installations are alike, which is why it is so hard to provide a comprehensive water filter installation guide. Just like each water purification system may have unique requirements, each home is different and will require special considerations during the installation process. 

Professionals can identify pitfalls early on and help avoid any unnecessary problems down the road. With experience comes exposure to what works and what doesn’t work. Understanding the common mistakes for water filter installations can help you avoid costly repairs down the road.

Ease

Having someone else install your water purification system is by far the easiest solution available. You won’t have to worry about rerouting plumbing in tight spaces or dealing with coming up with innovative mounting solutions. Instead, you’ll get access to clean, filtered water without breaking a sweat.

This is also important because some people let a daunting installation process stop them from enjoying clean, filtered water. You shouldn’t have to go through a complicated installation process or learn a new trade to enjoy the benefits of one of our water filtration systems. Instead, with a Rayne technician performing your installation you’ll have ready access to filtered water before you know it.

Proper Function

One important thing to keep in mind about your water filtration system is they tend to be a long-term investment. Filtration systems can last decades with proper maintenance. It will need to stand the test of time, which is why you want to invest in a high-quality system like Rayne. In order for it to provide clean filtered drinking water for years to come it needs to be installed properly.

By having a professional technician perform the water filter installation, you’ll be assured your system is set-up correctly from the beginning. This can help you avoid any issues with the unit down the road, such as leaks, which may lead to costly repairs. With proper installation, you’ll have the access to perform any required maintenance, which will ensure your system remains functioning over the years.

Why You Should Install a Water Filter

Some people might wonder if installing a water filter is worth the trouble. After all, your tap water has already been treated hasn’t it? 

Unless you are drinking water from a private well, in which case you should definitely be filtering your water, the water coming out of your tap from your community water supplier has undergone a series of treatments. These treatments are designed to bring water into line with regulatory requirements for clean water, most notably the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act.

Unfortunately, water quality violations happen all the time in the United States. In fact, a report released by the National Resources Defence Council (NRDC) found an estimated 77 million people were exposed to water in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2015. In the same year, there were over 80,000 violations reported for water delivered from municipal water suppliers.

Further evidence of the risk posed by water quality violations is not difficult to find. A report released in 2019 by the Environmental Working Group found over 7.5 million people in California were being exposed to elevated levels of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS), which are a type of chemicals are commonly used in firefighting foams, food packaging, and cosmetics.

Keep in mind, many water quality violations are only noticed after consumers have been exposed to contaminants. For protection in real-time, you must filter your water against a wide range of contaminants, including microbes, PFAS, disinfectant chemicals, solvents, pesticides, and other common contaminants.

Final Thoughts

Installing a water filter system can be a challenging process that requires a solid knowledge of plumbing and an understanding of the system you plan on installing. You’ll also need to consider how to maintain the system and give yourself access to perform routine maintenance. 

Because of this, it is recommended that you have a professional install your water filter system. If you aren’t sure about what to look for in a water filter, contact Rayne Water to have a water quality test done at your home. By understanding exactly what contaminants are in your water and what your desired outcome is, one of our professional technicians can guide you towards the product that fits your needs. 

To learn more about how to install water filters or what filtration systems are available in your area, please contact Rayne Water today.

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Sources:

  1. https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/c-s1-05.pdf
  2. https://www.explainthatstuff.com/howwaterfilterswork.html
  3. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/12/31/ask-well-should-you-filter-your-water/
  4. https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/27/us/pfas-california-contamination-trnd/index.html