If you have hard water and want to eliminate it, you’ll want to have a good understanding of what hard water treatment options exist for your home. The top hard water solutions for home utilize a process known as ion exchange, which provides soft water for your whole house. However, there are other options including water softener/filtration combinations that can help you dodge the effects of hard water.
Gaining a better perspective on the benefits and drawbacks of these types of hard water treatment systems can help you make an informed decision about the best water softening option for your needs. Let’s take a look into how water softening systems work.
Ion exchange systems are the most effective treatment solution for hard water. These systems are also the only realistic method of actually removing the mineral content of hard water.
Ion exchange systems function by removing positively charged mineral ions from hard water and replacing them with positively charged sodium ions. These water softening systems have two tanks: a brine tank and a resin tank. The resin tank contains negatively charged resin beads, with positively charged sodium ions attached. When hard water enters the resin tank, the hard mineral ions in the hard water are attracted to the resin. The sodium ions are displaced into the water flow in order to maintain electrical balance.
Over time, as the resin becomes saturated with mineral ions it is necessary to refresh the system. In order to do this, highly concentrated saltwater in the brine tank is flushed into the resin tank. The saltwater displaces the mineral ions on the resin, which are then flushed down the drain. Once this process is complete, the system is recharged.
The benefit of ion exchange systems is that they are simply the most effective way to remove minerals that contribute to water hardness. With an ion exchange system, you’ll eliminate spotting on dishes, pots, and pans. Your soap scum and scaling will be eliminated, and appliances such as your water heater, dishwasher, and coffee pot will be protected against the damage caused by mineral buildup, also known as limescale buildup. These visual indicators should be should not go unnoticed when switching to a water softener in order to tell if the system is working correctly.
There are tradeoffs with this type of system. The first is that they waste a small amount of water during the process of refreshing the system. Some water is washed out along with the collected minerals. The second tradeoff is that they release some sodium into the water flow. While the amount of sodium released into the water is fairly minimal, if you are on a low sodium diet you may want to consider installing a reverse-osmosis (RO) system at your sink to provide drinking water. Osmosis systems can be easily installed to your sink faucets for instant filtration of tap water.
Salt-free systems like the Spartan Series provide water softening functionality through the use of Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) Media. TAC-media turns the dissolved calcium carbonate mineral ions into a crystalline form. While this won’t remove the mineral content from the water, it does make it less likely to attach to surfaces. This crystalline calcium carbonate isn’t noticeable, and these types of systems provide many of the same benefits of water softeners by reducing scaling and protecting your fixtures and appliances.
An added benefit of salt-free systems like the Spartan is that they also filter out contaminants from the water. Wrapped around the TAC-media is a carbon media, which filters out Chlorine and Chloramines while reducing bad odor and improving the taste of what was originally tap water.
The drawback of these water filtration systems is that they don’t truly remove the minerals from hard water. To do that, you need a water softening system that utilizes ion exchange.
It is possible to remove both the mineral content in hard water and treat it for contaminants. Water softener and filter combination systems like the Guardian Series accomplish this by combining both functions into a hybrid multi-media system. The hybrid multi-media system contains the carbon media that removes contaminants as well as contains the resin and brine solutions that comprise a water softening system.
To effectively remove the mineral content that determines the level of water hardness, you’ll need to use some type of water softening system that utilizes ion exchange. The process of ion exchange removes the mineral ions from soft water, replacing them with sodium ions.
Standalone water softening systems for your whole house is highly effective at removing minerals from hard water, but they don’t filter out contaminants. To do that, you’ll want a water softening and filtration combination system, which combines both functions into the same system to obtain such soft water benefits.
A second option for removing contaminants and salt after water has been run through a water softening system is to install a reverse-osmosis system for your drinking water. These systems are highly effective at removing dissolved solids and contaminants from water, ultimately resulting in water purification. Using an RO system with a water softener will also help your RO system avoid the rapid buildup of minerals in the membrane that comes with using these systems with hard water.
Lastly, if you are just concerned about the mineral buildup that comes with hard water, but still want contaminants filtered out, you could consider a salt-free system which utilizes TAC-media. While not actually lowering the mineral content of the water, TAC-media will make the calcium carbonate in hard water crystallize, which minimizes the scaling and buildup that comes with hard water.
To learn more about hard water treatment options, please contact Rayne water today to speak with one of our knowledgeable representatives.