Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Reverse Osmosis Vs Distilled

Posted by Rayne Water

If you are looking at options for purified water you have probably come across the suggestion to use a reverse osmosis water purification system. You might have also seen people recommend drinking distilled water if you are worried about organic contaminants. If you’ve ever wondered the difference between distilled and purified water, distillation is just a type of water purification. So, instead of thinking of this as purified vs distilled water, it is a better representation to think of distilled water under the umbrella of purified water.

Reverse osmosis and water distillation are common methods for water purification, but what are these differences between these two purification methods, and which is better? While water distillation is an older purification process, there are several key factors making it less desirable for home water purification. Understanding the differences between reverse osmosis vs distilled water can help you determine which water purification method is right for you.

What is Distilled Water?

Distilled water is water that has gone through the process of distillation. In order to distill water, you boil it, capture the steam that rises from the water, then allow the steam to condense and fill another container.

Put another way, the distillation process involves turning liquid water into a gas and then reforming it as a liquid again. This type of treated water requires a piece of equipment known as a still. Modern distillation units are fairly straightforward in operation by automating the process.

Distillation is used as a means of water purification. Purification is the process of removing certain contaminants from water, so distillation is a method of reducing contaminants and producing clean water. Like other methods of water filtration or purification, distillation is unable to remove all organic contaminants on its own.

Distillation is effective at removing dissolved solids in water, such as minerals and salts. These substances make water hard and lead to scaling. Distillation is also excellent at neutralizing microbes such as giardia or Legionella from water. Distillation is less effective at removing chemicals with a boiling point near water. To remove these chemicals, distilled water will need to be run through an additional filtration process.

Distilled water is necessary for the operation of certain types of equipment. You’ll see it required for use in equipment that may be damaged by mineral deposits. Distilled water is used in a residential setting for use in an electric iron or steam mop, as well as in automotive cooling systems and certain types of batteries.

What are the Disadvantages of Distillation?

Although distillation can provide some purification benefits for tap water, there are some downsides to consider as well. When comparing reverse osmosis water filter vs distilled water, the biggest disadvantages of distillation are speed and energy costs. Home distillation systems require high amounts of energy to run, resulting in higher ongoing costs when compared to alternatives like reverse osmosis.

Distillation systems are at a disadvantage for providing drinking water on demand. While the best under sink reverse osmosis system can produce up to 75 gallons of drinking water each day as needed, distillation takes time. Water must be brought to a boil, and steam must condense and collect in a storage container. 

The second disadvantage of distilled water is most people do not enjoy drinking it. Distilled water has been demineralized, and is often described as flat or bland in taste. For people wondering, “what is demineralized water?”, it is simply water with the dissolved minerals and salts removed. Minerals and salts like magnesium and calcium, which harden water, also give it some of the taste many of us have come to expect. Since distillation nearly completely removes any mineral content in water, many people find the taste strange. 

What is Reverse Osmosis Filtration?

Reverse osmosis is one of the most common water filtration systems in both residential and industrial settings. Reverse osmosis is used by millions of people to provide clean, filtered drinking water. It is also used in desalination plants to turn seawater into freshwater, in industrial agriculture to give greater control over the PH of the soil, in the production of pharmaceutical products, and in food and beverage production.

The best way to understand the reverse osmosis process is by getting a sense of how osmosis works first. Osmosis is a natural process involving the movement of solvent from a solution with a low concentration of solutes to a solution with a high concentration of solutes across a semipermeable membrane. This movement is due to a force known as osmotic pressure.

The point of reverse osmosis water is to achieve equilibrium on both sides of a membrane. When one side has a higher concentration of solutes and a lower concentration of liquid, the liquid flows from the other side until the solution on both sides of the membrane is the same.

Osmosis is how plants get nutrients from the ground. The soil is a solution with a low concentration of solutes, and the plant has a high concentration of solutes. Water flows through the semipermeable membrane of the roots into the plant.

In reverse osmosis, this entire process is reversed. Reverse osmosis starts with a solution with a high concentration of solutes. For water purification, this is water with a large number of contaminants. This contaminated water is forced at high pressure across a semipermeable membrane. The semipermeable membrane has tiny pores that allow water molecules to pass through but keep other contaminants out. 

One of the easiest ways to visualize the reverse osmosis process in action is through the desalination process. Desalination plants force seawater, which has a high concentration of salt, across a semipermeable membrane that allows water molecules to pass but keeps salt out. What’s left on the other side is, potable, fresh water.

If you are wondering, “is reverse osmosis water safe?”, the answer is reverse osmosis water has far fewer contaminants than unfiltered tap water.

Reverse osmosis as a filtration process on its own is effective at reducing or removing a number of contaminants. These include:

Reverse osmosis systems within a residential setting sometimes have pre- and post-filters as well. The pre-filter reduces any sediment in the water before it passes through the membrane. This helps extend the lifespan of the membrane. The post-filter uses granulated activated carbon (GAC), which captures some contaminants reverse osmosis systems aren’t as effective against. These include disinfectants like chlorine, disinfection byproducts, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), synthetic organic chemicals (SOCs), and other substances which alter the taste or smell of water.

There are a couple of important things to briefly note about residential reverse osmosis water filtration systems. The first is they aren’t 100% efficient. A small amount of water is flushed down the drain along with any contaminants collected during the reverse osmosis filter process. The second thing to note is you will occasionally have to replace the filters and RO membrane in the system. This is usually a simple process with minimal system downtime but is essential to ensure your system continues operating at peak performance.

When weighing the choice between reverse osmosis water filter vs distilled, keep in mind both types of systems produce some type of wastewater. In both types of systems, the contaminants and impurities collect on one side of the process and must be flushed from the system.

How are Reverse Osmosis Systems Used?

If you want clean, purified drinking water in your home then a Rayne Water reverse osmosis filtration system is the way to go. Reverse osmosis systems come in two configurations. The more common configuration is known as a point-of-use (POU) system. POU systems are designed to provide filtered water at a single tap, such as at your kitchen sink. 

Reverse osmosis purification systems tend to be ideal for this because they are small enough to be installed in tight spaces, such as under a kitchen sink. Yet these systems are still powerful enough to provide sufficient drinking water for everyone in your household. If you are weighing the advantages of reverse osmosis vs distilled, the size and on-demand power of reverse osmosis systems clearly pull ahead.

The second, less common configuration for reverse osmosis filtration is known as point-of-entry (POE) system. Otherwise known as a whole-house water treatment system, a POE reverse osmosis system is designed to provide reverse osmosis filtered water to your entire home. One of the benefits of a whole-house reverse osmosis system is having soft, clean water throughout your home. The water you shower and bathe in will also have had a wide range of contaminants and impurities removed.

However, if you want to eliminate the effects of hard water throughout your home and also have clean, purified drinking water it may be more economical to use a whole-house water softening system and a POE reverse osmosis filtration system. This setup is common because the use of water softeners eliminates the impact of hard water around your house, while the reverse osmosis system provides clean, filtered drinking water.

Closing Thoughts

Both distillation and reverse osmosis are methods of water purification, however, they function in different ways. The distillation process involves boiling water, capturing the steam produced, and condensing the steam in a different container. This process is accomplished with a specialized type of equipment known as a still. 

Though distillation is effective at removing microbes, minerals, and salts from your water supply, it leaves water tasting flat and bland. Distillation as a process is simply too slow, cumbersome, and inaccessible as a method of home water purification except in emergencies.

In contrast, a reverse osmosis water filtration system forces water containing contaminants across a specialized semi-permeable membrane at high pressure. In a reverse osmosis system, the membrane is designed to allow water molecules to pass through but not other contaminants. Combined with an activated carbon post-filter, reverse osmosis systems are capable of removing minerals, salts, and microbes from water, along with many organic and synthetic chemicals, and disinfectants, and their byproducts.

Unlike distillation, reverse osmosis is accessible for all homes. RO systems can be installed at a single tap and provide a sufficient amount of clean, fresh water for an entire family. Reverse osmosis systems are much more cost-effective than bottled water delivery services and offer a high level of protection against any unexpected rise in contaminants.

To learn more about residential filtration systems with reverse osmosis, please contact Rayne Water today. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/home-water-treatment/household_water_treatment.html
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/home-water-treatment/water-filters/step2.html
  3. https://www.labconco.com/articles/whats-the-difference-between-ro-and-di-water-pur
  4. https://www.livescience.com/41510-what-is-distilled-water.html

 

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:

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. Our water quality experts 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 Does a Water Softener Work?

Posted by Rayne Water

If you are considering transitioning to soft water throughout your house, you are probably wondering “how does a water softener system work?”. Water softening systems are an effective method of producing soft water for your entire house, but most people aren’t clear on the various types of water softeners, as well as how they function exactly.

Water softening systems transform hard water into softened water through a process known as “ion exchange”. Ion exchange is a gentle, yet highly effective method of removing the mineral ions that lend to the level of hardness found in some water. To understand how these systems function, you’ll first have to understand exactly what soft water is, and how water becomes hard in the first place. By gaining a full understanding of this process, you’ll have a better grasp of how water softening systems function and whether installing a water softener is the right choice for you and your home.

What is Water Hardness?

Don’t know the difference between hard water vs. soft water? Water is often referred to as either “soft” or “hard”, but the meaning of these terms isn’t intuitive. Both of these terms are tied to the concept of water hardness, which is used to communicate the mineral content of a sample of water. Regardless, the benefits of soft water most definitely differentiate it from hard water.

Water hardness exists on a spectrum, from “soft” water which has a very low concentration of hard water minerals, to “very hard” water which can have a relatively high concentration of hard water minerals. This spectrum is better understood by looking at the water hardness scale. The water hardness scale is used to quantify exactly how hard or soft a sample of your water supply is. The most common scale in use measures the mineral content of water in terms of the number of grains-per-gallon (GPG) of dissolved calcium carbonate that a sample of water contains. Grain capacity can be broken down into several tiers based on calcium content.

Here are the thresholds for water hardness as defined by the most commonly used water hardness scale:

What is notable about the water hardness scale is that water can exist with varying degrees of hardness. It is also important to understand that the water hardness scale measures the amount of calcium carbonate that a sample of water contains because it is the most common mineral contained in hard water, but water hardness can be affected by many types of minerals and metals. Other common dissolved minerals found in hard water include magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc, aluminum, barium, and others.

How Does Water Become Hard?

The process through which water hardens is important to understand because it directly informs an understanding of how these systems work to soften water. Starting at the beginning of the water cycle, precipitation falls to the surface of the Earth as soft water or water with relatively low mineral content. Water begins to harden as it flows over and seeps through mineral-rich ground and soil.

Surface water, or water flowing through rivers and streams, tend to have a lower content of hard minerals. Groundwater tends to have a much higher content of hard minerals, as it moves through soil and stone rich in minerals. This groundwater eventually ends up in the aquifers that supply water to our homes.

As water percolates through soil and stone it picks up positively charged mineral ions. These ions become bound to the water molecule and typically aren’t separated from the water molecule until the water evaporates and leaves the mineral ions behind as deposits. As we will see, this process is important for understanding a water softener system and how does it work.

How Water Softening Systems Work

If you have ever wondered, “how does a water softener work?”, the answer is that water softening systems remove mineral ions in hard water through the process of ion exchange. This process requires exchanging positively charged mineral ions in the hard water with positively charged sodium ions, leaving the water coming out of the system free of mineral ions.

Water softening systems contain two tanks: a brine tank and a resin tank. Let’s break down the function of each of these.

Resin Tank

When water enters the water softening system it enters the resin tank. This tank holds a fairly sizable amount of plastic resin, usually a few cubic feet. This resin is porous and is usually covered in positively charged sodium ions.

As hard water moves through the resin tank the mineral ions that are bound to the water molecule are attracted to the negatively charged resin. The positively charged sodium ions that coat the resin are released into the water as the mineral ions take their place on the resin. This allows the resin to maintain a balanced electrical charge.

The water exiting the system contains a small number of sodium ions as the result of the process, but importantly no longer contains high levels of hard mineral ions. This process of ion exchange is a highly effective, yet gentle method of achieving softened water. To get a sense of how effective it is, each foot of resin in the system can soften approximately 3,200 gallons of water before it needs to be recharged. Now that would require an ample amount of water usage to go through that many gallons in a short period of time.

Brine Tank

The resin contained in the resin tank of a water softening system needs to be recharged periodically in order to continue removing dissolved minerals from hard water. As minerals are removed from hard water they bind, through an electrical charge, to the negatively charged resin. These mineral ions take up space on the resin, and periodically need to be flushed from the resin to allow other mineral ions to occupy that space. If not done periodically, the flow rate may be impacted.

The second tank in a water softening system is known as a brine solution tank and contains a concentrated solution of saltwater. During the flushing process, the resin tank is rinsed with the saltwater from the brine tank. The saltwater saturates the resin, forcing the positively-charged mineral ions to become removed and replaced by positively charged sodium ions. The remaining water in the resin tank, containing the loose mineral ions, is then flushed and the system is ready to soften water again.

Do Water Softening Systems Require Maintenance?

Water softening systems do require some maintenance to function at peak performance. Specifically, the user is usually required to add additional salt, or sodium chloride, to the brine solution tank periodically.

The process of flushing the resin tank may be automated depending on the specific system you are using. Many systems perform the flushing process in the middle of the night when the system is less likely to be in use.

What About Salt?

Sodium ions serve an important function in water softening systems, but many people are curious about whether the soft water produced by a water softening system is salty. A typical water softening system will add roughly 750 milligrams of sodium for each gallon of water produced. To put this number in perspective, an 8-ounce glass of tomato juice has approximately 875 milligrams of sodium.

With that being said, if you are concerned about the sodium content of soft water there are a couple of treatment options for you. 

First, some types of water softeners utilize a resin that releases potassium into the water rather than sodium. The downside of these types of systems is that the potassium chloride salt used in them is more expensive than the salt used to refresh a typical water softening system.

Second, many people choose to install a reverse osmosis system under their sink to provide water for drinking and cooking. Reverse osmosis (RO) systems are small, making them easy to install in tight places, and they can remove any remaining sodium in the water along with other dissolved solids that your water may contain. It is basically a water conditioning system made to provide fresh drinking water.

Closing Thoughts

Water softening systems are a highly effective and efficient method of removing hard minerals from hard water that could be affecting your health and house appliances. Water softening systems utilize a process known as ion exchange to remove minerals from hard water. This process reverses the natural processes through which water becomes hard in the first place.

When water percolates through soil and stone it picks up positively charged mineral ions, which are then bound to the water molecule and make it hard. Hard water enters the water softening system through the resin tank, which is a tank filled with a negatively charged porous plastic resin coated in positively charged sodium ions. As the hard water moves through this tank, the hard mineral ions in the hard water are attracted to the negatively charged resin. The water exiting the system has had the hard minerals removed, and is ready to be piped throughout your house.

Water softening systems remove hard minerals through a gentle, largely passive process. Periodically the resin’s negative charge needs to be refreshed by removing the mineral ions that have become attached to it during the water softening process. This is accomplished by filling the resin tank with a saltwater brine, which displaces the mineral ions with sodium ions. Those mineral ions are then flushed from the system and the water softening system is ready to soften more water.

Water softening systems are low-maintenance and are the most efficient method of removing hard minerals – calcium chloride, magnesium, iron – from hard water and avoiding the negative impact of hard water throughout your house. 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! To learn more about what water softening systems are available for your residence or business or how to get a purified water system, please contact Rayne today.

Sources

  1. Ungvarsky, Janine. 2018. “Hard Water.” Salem Press Encyclopedia of Science.
  2. https://extension.psu.edu/hard-water-and-water-softening
  3. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-do-water-softeners-wo/
  4. https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/tools/a28280250/water-softener/
  5. https://extension.psu.edu/water-softening

The Best Water Filter for Nitrate Reduction

Posted by Rayne Water

Contaminated drinking water is widespread in the United States and throughout the public water system; the highest degree of contamination is in the Midwest, Texas, the Pacific Northwest and California. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that as many as 52 percent of community wells and 57 percent of domestic water wells are contaminated by a measurable amount of nitrates and nitrites. In Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley of California, it is estimated that one in every three domestic wells are contaminated with levels well over the EPA’s recommended guidelines for ground water. As a result, water softeners in Los Angeles and other Southern California areas are becoming increasingly popular as a solution to hard water and contaminants in tap water..

Nitrates and Nitrites are not all bad, in fact we need them to some extent to stay healthy, however excess consumption from elevated nitrate levels can cause serious health risks. Infants below six months of age are especially susceptible to nitrate contamination. The EPA states that if they consume water containing nitrates in excess of the maximum contaminant level, they could become seriously ill, and if untreated, may die from nitrate poisoning. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue baby syndrome. Wondering how to remove nitrates from water? The only way to remove nitrates from drinking water is through a water filtration system. Many water treatment companies promote Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems as an immediate solution to provide nitrate and nitrite reduction. RO systems do in fact reduce nitrate levels, however even the best RO system can only reduce them by eighty percent. The most typical systems only have a sixty percent reduction rate. This sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Well in some cases this reduction rate is just fine, however not all water has the same level of contamination. The EPA recommended guidelines for nitrates are a maximum 10 parts per million (ppm). Let’s say for example that your water has 30ppm nitrate contamination, a sixty percent reduction would only bring it down to a 12ppm nitrate level – still more than the recommended guidelines. At eighty percent reduction it would be 6ppm, which does falls within the guidelines, however there are only a select few RO’s that have an eighty percent reduction. Now let’s say your water starts at a 60ppm contamination level, even at an eighty percent reduction rate it would only bring it down to 12ppm, which is too high and can cause some health complications. The LINX Drinking Water System is the best solution to nitrate pollution. It doesn’t matter how much nitrate contamination your water has, 200ppm or 20ppm, it still reduces it down to non-detect levels – every time. These reduction rates are far superior to a traditional RO water filtration system for nitrate removal. This superior nitrate filter has earned them the WQA Gold Seal for Nitrate / Nitrite Reduction as well as being certified and approved for nitrate reduction in the state of California.

If your water has a problem with elevated levels of nitrate contamination, don’t take the risk of being exposed to excess contamination, install the one and only water filtration system that can reduce your high nitrate levels to non-detect levels and create safe drinking water. 

How to Quickly and Easily Maintain a Water Softener

Posted by Rayne Water

To better understand soft water, we first need to understand what hard water is. Hard water is simply water, which contains high levels of calcium and magnesium. Hard water issues are one of the most common water issues we see here in the United States. In fact, 85% of people in the US have hard water.

Over time, hard water can damage appliances, pipes, and other items in your home.

Here are some of the most common complaints, and symptoms of hard water. If you experience any of these issues on the list, you most likely have hard water.

The best solution to hard water issues is to install a water softener.

Water softeners reduce, or even eliminate, many of the problems associated with hard water. However, once you have decided to install a water softener, now you need to know what kind of maintenance is required. Fortunately, most water softeners are easy to take care of, if you follow some simple maintenance procedures.

One of the most important things you can do for your water softener is to make sure you are using the right kind of salt.

The top 3 salts to choose from are rock, solar and evaporated. Most stores stock the shelf with rock salt, since it is the least expensive of the three. The problem with rock salt though, is that it tends to have more insoluble minerals and that can lead to a muddy tank. Solar salt, is middle of the road salt, with fewer insoluble minerals. The purest form of salt is evaporated salt, this is the best option for a water softener.

A few things to check when maintaining your water softener.

Salt bridges and mushing, along with clean parts that are free of residue are the top three maintenance items for your water softener. A salt bridge occurs when a hard crust forms in the brine tank and creates an empty space between the water and the salt. Common causes of bridging include high humidity, temperature changes around the water softener or using the wrong kind of salt. You may have a salt bridge if your salt tank appears full, but you know your water isn’t soft. The quickest way to test for a salt bridge is to take a broom handle and carefully push on the top of the salt to break it up, if it has become hard. Next thing to check is mushing. This happens when sludge or mushy stuff forms on the bottom of the tank. If this happens, draining the tank is the best way to clean up the problem. Another cause of mushing is the kind of salt you are putting in. Opt for a better salt that is more soluble, which will drastically reduce mushing concerns. Last item to check when taking care of your unit – clean valves. Make sure parts are clean and free of and residual buildup. Taking care of your water softener is fairly easy, but important. Simple maintenance of your water softener will ensure a smooth-running system and allow you and your family to continue enjoying the benefits of soft water for years to come.]]>

Benefits of Soft Water and Having a Water Softener

Posted by Rayne Water

There’s a big push for equality in our country – equality between races, genders, social status, and so on. Does this same theme apply to water? Is all water created equal? We don’t think so! Sure, in its purest form, water is water, but once it comes in contact with people and the environment, everything changes. Water can easily become contaminated or hard.

So how do you turn hard water into softened water and what does a water softener do exactly? Our experts are here to explain everything there is to know about water hardness in your water supply. 

What is hard water?

No, we’re not talking about ice here – that’s not the “hard” we’re referring to. In this scenario, it’s what’s IN the water that gives it this description. Hard water contains a buildup of hard minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, which has reached a certain level (greater than 3.5 grains per gallon). While it may not look much different than soft water, hard water can wreak havoc on homes and people, not to mention the household budget. There are many signs of hard water to look for when deciding whether or not you need a water softener system.

What are the effects of hard water?

If you’re one of many Americans who currently have hard minerals in your home water supply, all you need to do is look around and you’ll notice any or all of these signs of hard water:

Aside from physical signs of mineral buildup around your home, you may also begin to notice hard water effects on hair and skin as well.

How does water get softened?

The solution to hard water minerals is to install a water softening system in the home. This is a water filter device that attaches to the water supply and treats it right at the source. Salt-based water softeners introduce sodium into the water, attracting and removing the excess calcium and magnesium ions and thereby softening the hardness of the water. This will help reduce soap scum residue and other signs of water hardness minerals around your home.

What are the benefits of soft water?

After you’ve finished installing a water softener for your tap water, the water coursing through the veins of the home (i.e. the plumbing!) is now soft. The benefits of water softeners and its effects on your drinking water are many, and include:

A water softening system not only helps to reduce hardness minerals in your water supply, but it also improves your drinking water as well. If you have hard water and don’t yet have a water softener system, why not give us a call? We have both traditional salt-based water softeners and eco-friendly solutions such as Portable Exchange Tank Service. Your soft water, and all the benefits that come with it, are only a phone call away!

Contact us today to find a water filter or water conditioner that’s right for you and your home.

What is Soft Water?

Posted by Rayne Water

Soft water is highly touted for its beneficial properties, yet most of us don’t have a firm idea of what is meant by soft water. You’ve probably also heard of soft water’s alter ego: hard water. The differences between the two are significant and therefore important to understand in terms of how each can affect your life.

If you find yourself wondering, “what makes water soft?”, you’ve come to the right place. We are going to examine what soft water is, what its main properties are and how hard water compares to soft water. Depending on where you live, you may have used soft water your entire life and never known it, or you may have only had limited exposure to it. In the course of this article, we’ll break down why this might be the case, and also explore methods through which you can get soft water – such as a whole home water softener – even if you live in an area that has very hard water.

By the end of this article, you should have a clear sense of what the benefits of soft water are and conversely what the drawbacks of hard water tend to be. This information will allow you to make an informed decision regarding whether you need a home water softener system in your home or business.

What is Water Hardness?

The easiest way to figure out what is meant by soft water is to understand the concept of water hardness. The idea of a liquid being soft or hard can be confusing, but take a moment and let go of the idea that your water is either physically hard or soft to the touch. Rather, water hardness refers to something that is either present or absent from water.

Specifically, the hardness of water is determined by the amount of calcium and magnesium that has been dissolved in a water sample. Water that is considered hard may also have other minerals present, such as manganese and iron. Conversely, soft water has very low amounts of these minerals.

The mineral composition of the water gives it unique properties. These properties are the core reason that so many people are concerned about how hard their water is. Many properties of hard water tend to be detrimental to specific equipment that we rely on in our modern world due to the presence of these minerals.
How Does Water Hardness Occur?
The development of hard water occurs naturally during the movement of water through the water cycle. Precipitation, or rainwater, does not contain a substantial amount of minerals and is thus considered soft. The mineral content the water contains will rise as the water moves through the soil.

There are a couple of points to unpack here about how water becomes harder. Let’s take a look at each of these three in turn.

Groundwater
Water hardness is really only something that occurs in groundwater. Water starts as soft in its natural form as rainwater, but becomes hard as it moves through the soil and picks up minerals.

Location
There is a strong geographical correlation to whether water is hard or soft. For water to be hard, it must pass through soil that is rich in minerals. This is especially true for calcium and magnesium, which water readily dissolves as it moves through it. If the soil near your water supply has an abundance of chalk and limestone, chances are it will be hard.

Water as a Solvent
You might be wondering how water can dissolve minerals that are found in the soil and crust of the earth. For example, calcium carbonate comprises roughly 4% of the Earth’s crust and is the primary way through which water hardness is measured. Water is able to dissolve this and other minerals because it is a solvent. It has been dubbed the “universal solvent” because of its effectiveness in dissolving minerals. This is due to the polarity of water atoms themselves. Water has both a negative and positive charge on each side, allowing it to attract and dissolve minerals as it passes through the ground.

What is the Threshold for Soft Water?

By now, you should have a good idea of what makes water soft or hard, but this does little to shed light on the soft water definition. Rather than simply assessing the effect water has or what it feels like – both of which are properties that change depending on hardness – there are simple thresholds that are used to determine whether water is hard.

The thresholds that determine the hardness of water are a measurement of the amount of Grains Per Gallon (GPG) found in a sample of water. These measurements help answer the question, “what is soft water?”

These are the thresholds that define the hardness of water:

What are Some Advantages of Soft Water?

If you live in an area where groundwater is naturally hard, you will have to invest in a water softening system in order to have soft water. Let’s take a look at some of the key advantages that soft water has over mineral-laden hard water.

Less Mineral Buildup in Pipes and Equipment
When water that is high in minerals travels through the pipes in your house, it leaves behind deposits of the minerals it is carrying. This buildup is called limescale. Some types of pipes, such as copper or PVC, are more resilient against limescale buildup. Even so, the continuous flow of water through these pipes will eventually reduce the ease of flow. If you’ve ever seen a picture of how cholesterol slowly constricts the flow of blood in the arteries of the human body, you will have a good sense of how limescale can affect the flow of water through pipes over time.

Pipes aren’t the only thing in your house that will slowly degrade from hard water. Mineral deposits from hard water will result in a buildup that will affect the operation of your showerhead, dishwasher, and importantly, your water heater. Water heaters in areas with hard water will operate less efficiently over time as limescale continues to buildup in them. Similarly, nozzles of showerheads can also become clogged by limescale with continued use.

No Spotted Dishes
If you have hard water, then you know that it’s next to impossible to get your dishes looking as good as new. The source of the film and spots on your dishes, glassware, and silverware are the minerals contained in the water. Those spots aren’t dangerous, but they are unsightly. One of the advantages of having soft water is that your dishes come out consistently clean, bright, and shiny.

Clothes Last Longer
With soft water, your favorite clothes will last longer. If you have hard water, your clothes will appear dull and less vibrant due to the buildup of calcium and magnesium in the clothing through repeated washes. Stains might be more difficult to remove in the washing machine, and you might even see white streaking on certain dark fabrics. Over time, the mineral buildup will weaken the fibers of clothes, making them less resilient to tearing.

Soap Scum
You may not realize it, but that soap scum you’ve battled over the years is due to the minerals in your water. The calcium carbonate in hard water reacts with soap to create soap scum. Soap scum is frustrating at best, and even after a thorough cleaning, it can quickly reappear. By switching to soft water, soap scum will be eliminated, making cleaning your shower or sinks a breeze.

Eliminating soap scum isn’t the only advantage of soft water. Soft water also makes the soap more effective in general. With hard water, soap doesn’t lather as effectively and is generally harder to wash off. Once you finish washing your hands with hard water, you are often left with a dry feeling and may feel like you need lotion. With soft water, soap produces a more luxurious lather, washes off cleanly the first time and makes your hands feel softer instantly.

Vibrant Hair
You probably wouldn’t think that the mineral content of your water would have an impact on how your hair looks. As surprising as it is, the minerals in hard water can, over time, leave hair more dull in appearance. The minerals in the water coat the hair, causing it to appear duller while also reducing the effectiveness of moisturizers from penetrating the hair follicle. In contrast, washing your hair with soft water will leave it with more vibrancy, shine, and body.

How to Get Soft Water

If you don’t live in an area that already provides soft water, then you’ll have to treat the water that is coming into your house. Water is softened through an ion exchange process.

Essentially, this process involves running the hard water through a tank that contains sodium or potassium ions. These ions attract the mineral ions in your hard water. Occasionally the tank may need to be flushed with a saline rinse. This recharges the system and allows it to continue attracting mineral ions. The end result of a water softening system is soft water on demand in your house.

Water softeners reverse the process through which water becomes hard when it travels through the water cycle. The polarity of the water molecule allows it to pick up mineral ions as it travels through the soil. A water softener reverses this process by attracting those same mineral ions back out of your water, allowing them to be eliminated separately.

Closing Thoughts

Soft water is water with a very low mineral content, typically defined as less than 1 GPG. Water above this threshold is considered hard, owing to the fact that it has a higher mineral content.

Water becomes hard after it falls from the ground as precipitation and seeps into the soil. While the water that eventually reaches our tap moves through the soil and sediment that makes up the Earth’s crust, it picks up mineral ions. The majority of these minerals are calcium carbonate and magnesium, but hard water can also contain iron, manganese, and a variety of other minerals.

There are some very tangible benefits associated with soft water, including shinier hair and more moisturized skin. Soft water also leaves behind fewer mineral deposits on your faucets and fixtures, which is important for your appliances. With soft water, your water heater will work more efficiently over a longer period of time, and you won’t experience obstruction of the nozzles in your dishwasher or shower head. Soft water also eliminates soap scum and ensures that your dishes won’t have any spots or film.

Transitioning your entire house to soft water isn’t as difficult as you might think. Water softeners remove the minerals in water as it comes into your house, ensuring that every faucet, shower head, and appliance has clean, soft water. To learn more about the process for transitioning to a water softening system or even just a home water filtration system for potable drinking water, please contact Rayne Water today.

Sources
1. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/hardness-water?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
2. https://www.thespruce.com/solving-hard-water-laundry-problems-2146651
3. https://www.skincarebyalana.com/blog/whats-better-skin-hard-soft-water/