Archive for the ‘Water Softeners’ Category

How to Clean Your Water Softener System

Posted by Rayne Water

Water softeners are designed to eliminate calcium and magnesium ions from your water. This prevents scale and mineral build-up in your appliances, promotes cleaner, brighter laundry, better drinking water, and just feels better on your skin and hair. However, your water softener system will eventually need cleaning and maintenance. Over time, iron and other minerals can build up in the resin tank and salt can potentially clump up. That can result in water hardness. Mold can eventually form in the tank, which can present some serious health issues.

These are things people tend to forget when they wonder how to choose a water softener. Regular cleaning and maintenance can also help you avoid more expensive repairs or complete breakdowns. For the uninformed, cleaning a water softener system can be intimidating or daunting, but it is much easier than you think. Learn how to clean a water softener tank below.

How Water Softeners Work

A water softener comprises a unit connected to the plumbing where your water enters your home. The unit uses a porous plastic resin tank, which attracts the calcium and magnesium ions as water flows through it. The process releases sodium ions to maintain the electrical charge in the resin. Over time, the sodium ions will release into the household, which can cause an excess concentration of calcium and magnesium ions to stick to the resin.

This is where the brine tank comes in. Every few days, the resin gets rinsed by a concentrated solution of saltwater from the brine tank. The saltwater covers the resin in sodium again while displacing and knocking loose the magnesium and calcium ions. The calcium, magnesium, and any excess saltwater get flushed down the drain, leaving your water softener back to normal.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of components at work here, which leaves a lot of room for potential cleanup and water softener maintenance issues. When considering the pros and cons of water softeners, the water softener maintenance is an essential thing to factor in.

 

Cleaning the Resin Tank

The resin tank is the main component of your water softening system. An unclean or malfunctioning resin tank can result in brown water appearing in your drinking water. That is usually a sign of iron, manganese, and other minerals building up in the resin tank. Iron is the plentiful mineral in the earth’s crust and is a common component found in groundwater. While you generally shouldn’t have to deal with iron from a municipal water supply, it can be common if you get your water from a well.

Water softeners are good at removing that iron from the water, but over time, the mineral can collect on the resin bed and discolor the water. Remember, as iron oxidizes, it turns into rust. The iron molecules also reduce the resin’s ability to soften water and can cause blockages. Eventually, your resin tank may not be able to remove iron or other minerals at all.

The good news is that you can clean iron out of your resin tank using an iron-removing cleaner. These are readily available at home goods stores. These cleansers work by altering the chemistry of the iron and rust, making them soluble in water, which allows the minerals to easily flush out of the water softening system.

The process usually involves pouring the resin cleaning solution directly into the water in the brine tank or brine well and starting a regeneration cycle. Read the instructions on the cleanser that you use. You generally want to keep running a regeneration cycle until the water runs clear and tastes clean. Heavy iron buildup in the resin will require multiple cycles.

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Cleaning the Brine Tank

  1. Shut off the water going to the water softener and unplugging all of the hoses connected to the brine tank.
  2. Drain the brine tank by either running a regeneration cycle or using a wet vacuum to remove all the water and remaining salt. This is also why it’s best to clean the brine tank before a salt refill.
  3. Mix a simple cleaning solution comprising a couple tablespoons of dishwashing liquid or detergent with up to two gallons of water. Avoid using any harsh chemicals. Gentle, natural ingredients are always better.
  4. Dip a bristle brush into the cleaning solution scrub the inside of the tank, focusing particularly on the base of the tank and any corners where salt might have accumulated.
  5. Rinse the tank out with clean water.
  6. Reconnect all of the hoses and plugs.
  7. Refill the brine tank with salt and water. Set the control valve to run a regeneration cycle that night.

You can use household bleach in lieu of a cleaning solution to clean and rinse your tank. Short-term exposure to bleach should not have any drastic effects on the resin beads, and bleach can work effectively to sanitize your system and eliminate any bacteria. However, make sure you heavily dilute the bleach. Strong concentrations of bleach will degrade the resin beads and potentially wear down components in the tank. You generally want to stick with about 50-100 mg of bleach for every liter of water.

Bleach can also be used to break down any mold in either of your tanks. Some water softener units allow you to run a “bleach cycle”, but make sure you read the owner’s manual.

Salt Bridges and Salt Mushing

One of the most common issues in a brine tank is the formation of a salt bridge. Salt bridges are essentially a crust appearing on top of the salt. While all the salt below gets used up normally, the salt bridge remains, which also creates the illusion that your brine tank is full. This can lead to people not refilling their brine tanks, which results in resin beads that are rinsed only with water.

Salt bridges can form based on a variety of factors, including humidity, overfilling the brine tank, or simply using the wrong type of salt. To clean out salt bridges, shut off the water going into your water softener system and break down the crust using a broom handle, mop, or whatever tool you have handy. Scoop out the chunks of the salt bridge as the water is generally unable to dissolve larger pieces of salt. Vacuum out all of the water and salt remaining in the tank before refilling the tank with salt and running a regeneration cycle.

Along with salt bridges, you may experience salt mush comprising a thick gunk forming at the bottom of the brine tank. This sludge comprises salt impurities that have not fully dissolved in the water. As it accumulates, salt mush can obstruct the water intake valve in the brine tank, which can eventually cause the tank to overflow. Salt sludge can also prevent the resin beads from getting properly recharged with sodium ions.

There isn’t an easy or pretty way to clean out salt sludge. You will have to scoop out all the sludge and then perform a general brine tank cleaning.

When you ask yourself “how much is a water softener system”, make sure that you also consider the cleaning and maintenance necessary. Cleaning out your water softener tanks is not difficult or pricey, but it is necessary to extend the life of your water softener system and ensure clean, soft water throughout your home.

Sources:

How Much Is a Water Softener System?

Posted by Rayne Water

 

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

Water is one of the most important components of everyday life. You need it to live, and you need it to cook, clean, bathe, and more. Unfortunately, not all water is created or distributed equally. As it originates from ground reservoirs, water passes through mineral deposits before it makes its way to your tap. That often results in your home’s water containing varying levels of heavy minerals, usually calcium and magnesium. While these minerals are mostly harmless in the concentrations found in water, they can affect the quality of your water. Your water may taste different or leave a film on your skin and dishes. At worst, hard water can contribute to scaling and mineral deposits in your pipes, which can cause clogs and other plumbing issues.

As a means of reducing hard water, many homeowners invest in water softener systems. Knowing how to choose a water softener comes with plenty of important factors, but the price tag tends to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. How much does a home water softener system cost? Read on to learn more.

How Does a Water Softener System Work?

A water softener system usually comprises two units, a resin tank and a brine tank. These are connected to the pipes that take water into your property. The resin tank is filled with resin beads that are coated in sodium positive ions. These mineral ions attract calcium and magnesium ions in the water, causing them to stick to the resin beads. The demineralized, softened water flows into your home.

The sodium ions get knocked into the household water, and over time, the resin beads lose their sodium and become saturated in calcium and magnesium ions. In order to replenish the charge and remove the calcium and magnesium ions, the unit has to rinse the resin beads with a saltwater solution from the brine tank. The salt (sodium chloride) in the saltwater displaces the calcium and magnesium while covering the resin in sodium ions again. The excess saltwater, calcium, and magnesium get flushed out of the system, and the water softener system continues its regular operation.

 

The Cost of a Water Softener System

Homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $4,000 for a water softener unit and for the installation costs. That is a huge swing, and the two main factors that affect the water softener price are the type of unit and the installation.

Types of Water Softeners

There are a handful of different types of water systems that use different mechanisms to soften water. The three main types are distillers, reverse osmosis units, and whole-house systems.

Distillers purify water through a steam process that effectively separates water from any heavy minerals. While this process is effective, it is slow and can generally only purify a few gallons of water per hour. Due to their smaller size, distiller systems can cost less, but they can struggle with larger-scale applications and are better reserved for single-use applications, like only for drinking water.

Whole-house water softener systems generally use the ion exchange process described above. These are hooked up directly to incoming water sources and offer an efficient means of softening water that enters your home. These types of systems can range in pricing, and are typically easy to install and maintain. However, it is strongly recommended to have a professional water treatment installer conduct the work.

Reverse osmosis systems are also a popular option. These systems are designed to purify water and filter out minerals and impurities. They work by forcing water through a special, semi-permeable membrane. There are several steps of filtration involved to produce clean, well-filtered water. However, while reverse osmosis systems are effective, they tend to use a lot of water, and the process of filtering hard water can wear out the reverse osmosis membrane much faster. Some households combine reverse osmosis systems and ion exchange water softeners, which allows for higher-quality water while extending the longevity of the reverse osmosis system.

Installation Costs

Based on the size and complexity, most water softener units will require a professional installation, and in a lot of cases, the labor involved with an installation will cost more than the unit itself. Larger commercial water softeners will require a larger investment due to scale.

Your specific water softener cost with installation will vary, but for a salt-based ion exchange system, you can expect to pay about $400 for an installation. A dual-tank system may cost about $600 to install, while a higher-end dual-tank system will cost upwards of $1,000 to install based on the scope of work required.

Water Softener Systems starting at only $35/mo. Try before you buy!

Other Costs to Factor In

Even after your installation, you have to consider the maintenance involved. Regular maintenance is a natural part of any water softener system. It is absolutely worth learning how to clean a water softener unit, which can help to extend the life of your system, prevent clogging and scale buildup, and prevent more costly repairs.

The other main cost of using a water softener is the salt. You generally need to refill the salt tank every 4 to 6 weeks depending on capacity. A 40-pound bag of salt will run you approximately $5-10 per month. However, if you have to watch your sodium consumption or otherwise do not want to use salt, you have the option of using potassium chloride. While potassium works in the exact same way, it can cost you quite a bit more. A 40-pound bag of potassium chloride can cost you upwards of $35.

The actual quality of your incoming water can also affect how much you spend. Along with going through your salt and resin faster, harder water and larger families may just require a more efficient water softening process or system. Essentially, the higher your hardness level is, the more you will have to spend towards a softener tank.

In general, for a whole-house system, pricing can vary based on the size of the plumbing, size of the family, size of the house, and quality of the water. A water softener system can also prevent mineral deposits from building up in your plumbing, which can contribute to costly damage, corrosion, and clogs. You can contact your local Rayne representative and receive a free in-home estimate to ensure you are getting the best system for your needs.

The upfront and ongoing costs are definitely something to consider when weighing out the pros and cons of a water softener. However, for most homeowners, the investment is well worth it for soft, purified water that tastes better, feels better on skin and hair, and promotes cleaner laundry. But, you can always choose both with a whole house water filter and softener combo. Talk to us today for more information!

Sources:

Expert Reviewer – Ken Christopher

How to Choose a Water Softener That Is Right for You

Posted by Rayne Water

Hard water can be an issue for many households. While the accumulation of hardness minerals in the water is mostly harmless to the health, it can affect your everyday comforts, from the taste of your drinking water to the way your laundry feels. Hard water can even leave your skin and hair feeling unpleasant out of the shower. However, in its worst cases, hard water can contribute to mineral deposits and scaling in your pipes and plumbing. This can contribute to corrosion, clogs, and damage, all of which can lead to costly repairs.

Many homeowners invest in a water system such as a water softener to improve their incoming water hardness quality. As effective as a water softening system is, figuring out how to pick a water softener can seem daunting and confusing. There is a lot to consider. Read on to learn more about choosing a water softener for your home.

 

Determining Your Water Softening Needs

The size of your water softener and the type of water softener that you get is determined by your daily water consumption and needs along with the hardness level of your water. At the same time, a single person living on their own, likely will not have the same water consumption as a family of five.

To determine the hardness level of your water, talk to your local utility company or contact your local Rayne representative.. They should have that information on hand. You can sometimes find this information online through official annual reports, but it’s a good idea to call your water provider directly to get the most up to date information.

If they don’t have that information or if you get your water from a well, you will have to test your water yourself. Most home improvement stores have easy-to-use testing kits that can accurately tell you the water hardness in grains per gallon (GPG). Comprehensive well analysis reports can also be conducted by your local Rayne representative.

Similarly, you can check your utility bill to determine your average water usage. There generally shouldn’t be too much fluctuation from month to month. If you don’t have that information available, simply multiply the number of people in your home by 75 gallons per day.

Multiply your daily household water usage in gallons by the grains per gallon, and you get a pretty good idea of the grains of hardness that your water softener needs to remove in a day. You can then choose the right water softener that can handle that capacity.

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Considering the Regeneration System

Ion exchange water softener systems are the most common type of water softener system. They are efficient and use special resins to pull calcium and magnesium from hard water. The process of an ion exchange water softener also requires a “recharge” or regeneration cycle using a concentration of saltwater, which recoats the resin bead in sodium ions. Generally, the more water that you use, the more time spent softening water and the more regeneration cycles that you need. When you ask yourself, “how much is a water softener system”, you also need to factor in the regular salt refills.

A good salt based water softener will effectively soften the water while maintaining proper salt efficiency usage. The two types of regeneration cycles available are timer and on-demand. On-demand softeners allow you to run a regeneration cycle whenever a certain amount of water has been processed, counting the gallons used. A timer softener runs a regeneration cycle (as you can guess) on a timer, usually once a night or once per week which can result in unnecessary regeneration.

On-demand softeners are significantly more efficient. Your water usage and needs can fluctuate, meaning that sometimes you may not need a regeneration cycle every night. That can ultimately save you in salt and water costs.

It’s also a good idea to mark your calendar to check the brine tank regularly to determine when to refill the salt softener tank. It is also a good idea to learn how to clean your water softener system to increase overall efficiency.

It’s important to weigh out the pros and cons of water softeners as you make your decision on which water treatment system is right for you. If you still aren’t sure which model to go with or need help measuring your water softening needs, consult the Rayne Water team for more in-depth information.

Rayne Water is an highly experienced water softener company that has been providing clean water since 1928. We are proud to provide our service and keep your home and community safe from drinking clean water.

A Guide for How to Test Water Hardness

Posted by Rayne Water

Have you ever wondered how to test water hardness in your house? The answer might be closer than you think. Hard water is the result of elevated mineral levels in the groundwater supply. While hard water may be potable water and not necessarily  harmful to your health, it does result in a number of unpleasant effects with which you are probably familiar. 

Figuring out how to determine water hardness isn’t necessarily a complex process. While there are detailed tests that can give you an accurate and exact measure of how hard your water is, determining whether or not you have hard water is a much simpler exercise. 

In this article, we’re going to outline some easy to understand tips that can help you determine whether or not you have hard water. In doing so, we’ll explore some of the key effects that hard water can have around your house and on your body. Some of these are merely unsightly, while others can impact everything from the efficiency of your appliances to the moisture of your hair and skin. In the end, you might be surprised at the many ways that hard water has had an impact on your daily life and may be interested in a whole home water softener. Water Softening System.

What is Hard Water?

Hard water is water that has a high amount of minerals in it. The majority of these minerals are usually calcium carbonate and magnesium, however other minerals such as manganese and iron can also be found in hard water samples. The higher the mineral count in your water, the harder your water is considered.

Generally, water is thought of as “soft” if it has less than 1 Grain per Gallon (GPG)  of calcium carbonate. A higher concentration than this is considered to be hard water, with varying degrees of calcium hardness assigned to different thresholds of calcium carbonate.

Water Softener Systems starting at only $35/mo. Try before you buy!

How Does Hard Water Form?

The formation of hard water occurs naturally through an interaction between water and the soil it passes through. Starting as precipitation, water is largely soft, though there may be small amounts of minerals contained in rainfall. Once that rainfall hits the ground, it begins to move into and through the soil. 

The movement of water through the soil and into the rivers and aquifers that provide our water supply is long and arduous. As water passes through soil along the way, it dissolves the bonds of the mineral ions in the soil. These minerals are then carried along with the water into the water that reaches your tap.

In order for water to be hard, it must pass through soil that is rich in calcium carbonate and magnesium. This typically means chalk or limestone. Hard water can also contain high levels of iron if it moves through iron-rich soil. Put another way, the presence or absence of minerals in the soil around a groundwater source has a direct impact on how hard the water is. 

This means that the hardness level of water can vary substantially based on where you live. Many parts of the United States have hard water. This is also why you might notice that the water feels different when you visit another state or country.

Testing for Hard Water

If you are wondering how to measure water hardness, there are a variety of different tests you can do to find out whether or not your water is hard. Most municipal water suppliers also publish information about what types of minerals and other substances the water piped into your house contains. These water quality reports can provide a valuable source of general information, such as where your local water is sourced from, how it is treated, and what types of organic and inorganic materials it might contain. An example of a local municipal water quality report can be found here.

Short of browsing a water quality report or testing a water sample directly at your tap using a water test kit or test strip, there are some easy observational methods that you can use to determine if your water is hard. 

Do You Have Spots on Your Dishes?

If your dishes come out of the dishwasher with spots or a slight film on them, you probably have hard water. Those spots found on your dishes are mineral deposits left behind when the water used to wash the dish evaporates or is dried during the last part of the dishwasher cycle. 

Have You Observed Mineral Buildup on Your Faucets and Fixtures?

You can definitely tell that you have hard water if you pay close attention to your plumbing fixtures. Those areas of your house that are in frequent contact with tap water will be the areas where you see the biggest impact of hard water, and nowhere else comes in contact with water as frequently as plumbing fixtures.

If you have noticed scaly buildup on your fixtures then you most likely have hard water. You may have noticed that the nozzles on your shower head become clogged over time. This occlusion is due to mineral deposits left behind by hard water. The same is true of the nozzles in your dishwasher, which slowly become closed off by mineral deposits over time. 

Staining from mineral deposits on plumbing fixtures can also be different colors. White or gray stains tend to be from calcium carbonate, while areas with a high amount of iron in the water will produce reddish stains on fixtures and faucets.

Do You Get Soap Scum?

If you are constantly battling soap scum, you have hard water. Soap scum is a white, filmy layer often found in showers, in sinks, or on bathroom fixtures. Soap scum forms from a reaction between the minerals in water and the soap or detergent you use and leaves behind a solid substance that is difficult to clean. 

Soap scum can combine with mold or trap mildew in it. It can also be extremely difficult to remove, particularly if it has been left in place for some time. Most often, soap scum is an unsightly nuisance that most people with hard water have just learned to live with.

The Hair Test

Hard water can affect our lives in surprising ways. One of these is the effect of hard water on hair. You can test for water hardness by observing your hair – hair washed with hard water will begin to form a layer of minerals on the hair follicle. This mineral layer has a couple of effects that you may not have even realized were happening. 

The first is that minerals make hair look dull. Typically, hair washed in hard water will, over time, become duller and lack the vibrancy of hair washed in soft water. Your hair might also be drier when washed with hard water vs. soft water. The minerals deposited by hard water makes it more difficult for moisturizers to penetrate your hair follicle, leading to drier hair over time. 

The Hand Washing Test

This could also be considered the soap test, given the fact that it really comes down to how effectively your water washes away the soap. If you wash your hands with hard water and soap, you will probably notice that your hands can feel a bit dry and rough after all the soap has been visibly washed away, requiring lotion or oil. That dry feeling is from a thin layer of liquid soap sticking to the hard mineral left behind and sticking to your hand and is a common sign that your water is hard.

Another component of this test method applies to your skin as a whole. Individuals with hard water can have dry skin, which actually stems from that layer of soap that is left on your body after you get out of the shower. 

How to Soften Water

If you realized through your observational tests that you probably have hard water, you might be wondering what makes water soft. Once you determine you have hard water, there are a couple of options for you. 

Option 1

The first is to just live with the fact that you have hard water and deal with the issues associated with hard water in your home.  

Option 2

The second solution is to install a water softener. What is a water softener? Water softeners are systems that are installed where your water comes into your house. Water Softeners generally consist of two tanks; a mineral tank that contains a negatively charged resin, and a brine tank that contains a sodium-rich solution. Both of these tanks work together to remove minerals from hard water in a process known as ion exchange.

A home water softener system functions by running the tap water coming into your house through the mineral tank, where the positively charged mineral ions are attracted to the negatively charged resin in the tank. These minerals are replaced with sodium ions in the water during the water softening process.

Once the resin in the mineral tank reaches its capacity, it will need to be recharged. With this process, water from the brine tank is pushed through the mineral tank where the sodium ions that also have a positive charge replace the mineral ions that are on the resin. Once the mineral ions have been flushed out of the tank completely, the tank is ready for further extraction of minerals from your hard water. 

Is Soft Water Salty?

A water softener solution provides soft water for your entire home. One thing most people immediately wonder is whether the soft water that enters their home is salty, given the fact that there is now sodium that is attached to the water molecule. While there is sodium added to the water during this process, it doesn’t substantially raise the salinity of the water going through your house and doesn’t taste salty. 

If the salt content of soft water concerns you, you could look into installing a reverse-osmosis home water filtration system at your sink tap, which would remove any excess sodium as well as bacteria or other contaminants that might be in your water.

Closing Thoughts

Testing to see if your water is hard doesn’t have to be a confusing process. The methods we’ve outlined above constitute an observational test that anyone can perform to quickly determine whether their water is hard. Key indicators of hard water are mineral buildup around faucets and plumbing fixtures, spots and film on dishes after they have been cleaned and dried, and ever-present soap scum or suds in your showers and on your sinks.

Alongside these indicators, there are some additional ways that you can tell your water or drinking water is hard. You may notice that your hair is dry and dull, both of which are often the result of a buildup of minerals from hard water on your hair follicles. Hard water can also cause the skin on your scalp and body to become more dry or irritated, which stems from a layer of soap left on the skin after it has been washed. This layer of soap is also why your hands might feel a bit dry after washing them in an area with hard water.

While hard water doesn’t have any huge negative health consequences, it does produce unsightly buildup and can impact the operational efficiency of equipment such as water heaters over time. If you live in an area with hard water, switching to soft water is as easy as installing a water softener into your home. Water softeners ensure that all of the water in your house is soft through an ion exchange process, whereby the mineral ions in hard water are extracted and replaced with sodium ions in soft water. 

The tests we have outlined can give you a good idea of whether or not you have hard water. If you want to understand the total hardness of your water, or exactly how hard the water at your tap is, contact Rayne Water today to schedule a free water hardness test. 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!

Find a location near you!

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://extension.psu.edu/water-softening
  3. https://www.vidwater.org/files/d5ce12c8f/2018+CCR++Final+English+for+POSTING.pdf
  4. https://www.skincarebyalana.com/blog/whats-better-skin-hard-soft-water/
  5. https://www.thespruce.com/solving-hard-water-laundry-problems-2146651
  6. https://www.thespruce.com/soap-scum-information-1900291

 

How Does a Water Conditioner Work?

Posted by Rayne Water

Saltless water conditioners are often suggested as a viable alternative to water softening systems, but what is a water conditioner and how does it work? Both water softeners and water conditioners were developed to help residential and commercial customers reduce unwanted contaminants in tap water. But, these two types of water filtration systems function in fundamentally different ways and produce different results.

If you are on the fence about whether a water conditioner is right for you, gaining a better understanding of exactly how water conditioners work can help you make an informed decision about which type of system is right for you and your soft water needs. While water softeners are excellent at dealing with hard water minerals, in some circumstances a water conditioner may be preferable. To learn why let’s take a look at how water conditioners work and whether they are a viable water softener alternative.

What’s in Your Water?

Conditioners are an alternative to water softening systems, but these systems are used to remove different types of contaminants from your water. The type of system you choose for water treatment is usually determined by what contaminants you want to remove from your water.

Tap water can contain many contaminants. Some of these contaminants are minerals, which can be left as deposits known as scaling. Water is considered hard if it contains relatively high levels of dissolved minerals. Often these minerals are calcium carbonate and magnesium, which are picked up by water as it percolates through stone and soil.

Other common contaminants are disinfectants, such as chlorine, disinfection byproducts, chloramines, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These chemicals and compounds alter how your water tastes and smells. 

There are effective treatment options for both categories of contaminants in your water. If your primary concern are the impacts of hard water around your home, you’ll probably want to choose a water treatment system that can remove hard minerals or reduce their impact. These include water softening systems, or certain types of water conditioners. 

On the other hand, if you are concerned about the taste and smell of your water or prefer a salt-free system, a water conditioner may be right for you. 

What’s the Problem With Hard Water?

Hard water isn’t harmful to your health, and if you lack a nutrient-rich diet the minerals contained in hard water can actually be beneficial. Though there are a few negative impacts on the human body from water hardness, including brittle or dry hair and dry skin, most of the undesirable hard water effects can be found around your home.

When hard water passes over or evaporates on a surface it leaves behind the dissolved minerals it contains. This is known as scaling. Scaling can occur on any surface hard water comes into contact with. It is most frequently seen on the inside of plumbing over long periods of time and on surfaces and fixtures in your kitchen or bathroom. The mineral deposits from hard tap water will make your clothes more brittle and dull. When your dishes come out of the dishwasher they will have small white spots on them, which are minerals left behind when hard water has dried.

Your appliances are affected by hard water as well. When hard water is heated it leaves behind scale. This means appliances like your water heater, teapot, or coffee pot will have a reduced lifespan as scale builds up inside them. In a commercial setting, scaling can reduce the lifespan of boilers and heaters, as well as the plumbing which delivers water to systems.

The impacts of hard water don’t end at your home or business. Industrial agriculture requires water to be softened, usually through the use of a reverse osmosis system, to give growers greater control over the PH of the water they are using on their crops. Manufacturers in certain industries, such as the pharmaceutical industry, also remove dissolved minerals from water to achieve higher purity and consistency in their products through an ion exchange process.

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

Water Softening vs. Water Conditioning

If you’re like most people, you are probably wondering about the difference between a water conditioner vs water softener. Let’s break down the differences between these two terms.

How Does a Water Conditioner Work?

So exactly what is water conditioner? Water conditioners are used to condition water, but this term has multiple meanings in the industry. Most water conditioners remove contaminants that give your water an unpleasant smell or taste. Contaminants like chlorine, which is used as a disinfection agent in tap water, can be absorbed through the skin and gives water an unpleasant smell and taste. Likewise, VOCs can also cause your water to smell or taste unpleasant. Most water conditioners remove these substances, but don’t actually remove the calcium and magnesium in your water that cause scaling around your home. 

Some water conditioners also provide many of the benefits of softened water, but don’t actually remove the hard minerals from your water in the way that a water softener does. The goal of these saltless water conditioners is to alter the hardness of water so scaling doesn’t occur. The Best Water Conditioner does this through the use of a specialized material known as TAC media. 

Template-assisted crystallization (TAC) media contains nucleation sites that attract the dissolved mineral ions in hard water. These dissolved mineral ions come together and form very tiny crystals. Sometimes these crystals are known as “seed crystals”. Once these seed crystals have formed, the other hard minerals in the water bond to them preferentially.

Let’s break down this water filtration process. In a water conditioning system like the Rayne Spartan Series that uses TAC media, hard water enters the water conditioner and flows over the TAC media. As the water is flowing over the TAC media, dissolved mineral ions in the hard water are briefly attracted to the media and come together to form very tiny crystals. These crystals then continue on with the water. Any other dissolved mineral ions remaining in the water preferentially attach to the crystals in the water, rather than to other surfaces the water comes into contact with.

Keep in mind that many water conditioners provide a fundamentally different function than water softeners. While most water conditioners will remove contaminants such as chlorine and organic gases from your water, they won’t alter or remove water hardness. This makes them a great water treatment alternative for individuals who are concerned with contaminants in their water, but don’t necessarily need the benefits of softened water. 

Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions people have about water conditioners as a water softener alternative. 

Will I be able to taste or feel the crystals that form in conditioned drinking water?

For water conditioners that provide some soft water benefits you won’t be able to notice the crystals which have formed in the conditioned water. These crystals are very small. You can’t see or feel them. However, if you prefer the taste of water with some mineral content, you’ll still be able to have water that tastes the same.

How much water can be conditioned?

Like water softeners, most water conditioners are considered a whole-house solution for hard water problems. This means these systems are installed shortly after your main water line enters your home. This allows the system to condition all of the water flowing through your home. 

Will I still get scaling with conditioned water?

It depends! Water conditioners don’t remove hard minerals from water. Many water conditioners remove other contaminants like chlorine and chloramines, but don’t alter water hardness. Certain types of water conditioners can provide many of the benefits of softened water, such as eliminating scaling, but even these water conditioners don’t actually soften water. Instead, water conditioners that provide the benefits of soft water alter the structure of the hard minerals in your water so that they don’t cause scaling. While conditioned water still contains minerals, those minerals are in a different form which doesn’t bond to surfaces and fixtures in your home.

What about an electronic water conditioner, do they work?

Electronic water conditioners have not been independently evaluated to eliminate problems associated with hard water, including scaling. These systems involve a series of magnets or coils wrapped around the water line coming into your home to disrupt or agitate hard water in order to alter the chemical structure of the hard minerals. Rather than trust unproven technology, it is far better to use a system known to work such as a water softener.

How long does the water conditioner take to work?

One of the most frequently asked questions is “how long does water conditioner take to work?” Water conditioners work immediately. There is no delay between when water flows through a water conditioner and when it is conditioned. Water conditioners are capable of providing large amounts of conditioned water as-needed, so you don’t have to worry about whether you’re going to run out of the water if you do an extra load of dishes or take two showers. You are sure to have gallons of water on tap. 

Do water conditioners require the use of brine?

Water conditioners don’t require anything to be added to the water, including salt! This makes them an excellent choice for areas with brine solution restrictions in place which limit the use of water softener systems. An added advantage of not using a brine tank is water conditioners also don’t need access to a drainage line. This may make installation easier in some homes.

Are water conditioners energy efficient?

Water conditioners are very energy efficient. These are passive systems, meaning as water flows through the system it is conditioned. This makes them economically and environmentally friendly and reduces ongoing costs associated with the system.

Closing Thoughts

There are different types of water conditioners that provide different benefits. Understanding which is right for you will depend on what result you desire out of your water treatment system.

Most water conditioners are used to eliminate bad odors and tastes from water. These types of water conditioners reduce levels of lead, chlorine, chloramine, and VOCs. This type of treatment will give you water that tastes crisp and has no unpleasant smells.

Don’t worry if you are concerned about the impact of hard water around your home, there are some great treatment options available! The most common treatment option for hard water is a water softener, which removes hard minerals from water. Certain types of water conditioners, such as the Rayne Spartan Series conditioners, also provide many of the benefits of soft water but don’t require the use of salt and don’t remove hard minerals from water. 

If you are still undecided about whether a water softener or water conditioner is right for you, please contact Rayne Water today. Our helpful staff can help assess your water treatment needs and outline the advantages and disadvantages of these systems for you. If you need a water treatment system for commercial use, we have bottleless coolers, commercial water softeners and reverse osmosis systems. Contact us today!

Find a location near you!

Sources:

  1. https://continuingeducation.bnpmedia.com/courses/multi-aia/the-intelligent-scale-solution–template-assisted-crystallization
  2. https://www.osti.gov/biblio/567404
  3. https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a399455.pdf
  4. Vastyan, John. 2010. “Template-Assisted Crystallization.” Heating/Piping/Air Conditioning Engineering 82 (11): 34–37.

Difference Between a Water Conditioner vs Water Softener

Posted by Rayne Water

 

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

If you are searching for the best water treatment systems for your home you have probably come across water softening systems and water conditioning systems. Though both types of systems are used for water treatment, they produce different results which are worth understanding.

When weighing the choice between water softeners vs water conditioners, it is important to understand that these two types of systems function in different ways and remove different types of contaminants. Water softeners and water conditioners are also configured differently, which can have an impact on the installation process. Let’s take a closer look at how a water softener vs water conditioner works, and what the advantages and disadvantages of each type of system are.

Why Choose to Soften or Condition Your Water Supply?

You may have heard of hard water, but aren’t sure exactly what it is. Water is considered hard if it contains a high level of dissolved minerals. These hard water minerals, in the form of ions, usually consist of calcium and magnesium ions that your water has picked up over time as it percolates through the ground.

Water hardness can have a big impact on your home, body, or business. The most common impact of hard water is the mineral deposits left behind on surfaces that have come into contact with hard water. These mineral deposits are known as scaling. If you have hard water in your home, take a look at the fixtures in your bathroom or surfaces such as your shower doors. You’ll most likely find scale buildup, which is a stubborn mineral buildup that looks whitish in color.

Surfaces in your bathroom and kitchen aren’t the only place where scale builds up. Scale builds up on the inside walls of plumbing over time. Scale can also have a big impact on appliances that heat water, such as your dishwasher or water heater. Scale buildup will reduce the efficiency of these appliances and shorten their lifespan.

Some people choose to soften their tap water because they don’t like the effects of hard water on their bodies. The mineral deposits left behind by hard water can also be found on your hair and skin. These mineral deposits will rob hair of its natural shine and volume, while also causing it to become more brittle. At the same time, mineral deposits left behind on your skin can dry it out.

The most effective way to deal with these problems is to use a house water softener. While water softeners are used to remove hard minerals from water, water conditioners are typically used to remove chemicals and substances that give your water an unpleasant taste or smell. In addition, some water conditioners offer some soft water benefits, while hybrid systems combine both treatment processes into the same system.

But how do you choose between a water conditioner vs water softener? Both of these systems are usually installed where your water line comes into your house so that they provide softened or conditioned water for your whole house.Let’s take a look at how each water filtration system works so that you can better understand whether a water softener vs conditioner is right for you.

Water Softeners

Water softening systems are the most common method to deal with hard water in both a residential and commercial setting. Water softeners use a process known as ion exchange, or reverse osmosis, to soften water. At a functional level, ion exchange systems remove dissolved mineral ions from hard water and replace them with sodium ions.

Most water softening systems consist of two tanks. The primary tank contains special resin beads that have been coated with sodium ions. A second tank contains a salty brine solution which is used to regenerate the resin in the primary tank.

As water moves through the soil it picks up mineral ions. These mineral ions become bound to the water molecule. To break this bond, ion-exchange units attract these mineral ions away from the water molecule. As the water supply enters the primary tank in the water softening system, the mineral ions are attracted to the resin beads. As they attach to the resin beads they displace the sodium ions. The sodium ions bond to the water molecules, allowing them to maintain a balanced charge.

Over time the resin beads will collect so many dissolved minerals the system can’t continue removing more. Because of this, the system must occasionally be regenerated. To regenerate the system, salty water from the brine tank is used to fill the resin tank. This water displaces the mineral ions on the resin beads, replacing them once again with sodium ions. Afterward, any remaining water in the tank is flushed out of the system through a drain line.

Softening water through ion exchange is a time-tested method for eliminating hard water. They are great for providing large amounts of consistent, softened water. Like most filtration systems, ion exchange systems do require a degree of maintenance. The regeneration process must occur regularly, and the owner must add salt to replenish the brine tank periodically. 

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Water Conditioners

Water conditioners and water softeners work in different ways and produce different results. Most water conditioners are salt-free systems that are used to remove unwanted substances that alter the taste or smell of your water. These substances include chlorine, chloramines, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and organic gasses. Water conditioners are also used to remove lead from water.

How does a water conditioner work? It depends on what type of water conditioner you have. Some water conditioners filter out unwanted substances from water as it passes through, giving your water a better smell. Other water conditioners offer some soft water benefits by actually altering the structure of minerals in the water. These systems rely on a specialized material known as template-assisted crystallization (TAC) media to provide the benefits of soft water around your home.

 As hardened water passes over the TAC media, small amounts of hard minerals react with the TAC media and combine to form into crystals about the size of a nanometer. This process is known as nucleation. The crystals formed during this process are sometimes referred to as “seed crystals”. 

Once these nanometer-sized crystals have formed on the TAC media they rejoin the stream of water. Not all of the hard mineral ions in the water have formed into crystals. However, these seed crystals are sufficient to eliminate scaling. This is because the remaining hardness ions contained in the water will prefer to bind to the seed crystals over other surfaces such as the lining of your plumbing or your bathroom fixtures.

Water conditioners using TAC media are highly effective at reducing scaling from hard water. Research conducted by the WaterReuse Research Foundation found TAC media reduced scaling by up to 88%. At the same time, water conditioners like our Spartan series that use TAC media don’t require external power to operate. This results in lower utility costs when compared to other hard water treatment options.

The Best Water Conditioner for you will depend on how you want to treat your water. If you are concerned about exposure to chlorine or lead, a water conditioner like the Rayne Executive Series is probably right for you. However, if you also want the benefits of softened water you may want to consider a water conditioner that uses TAC media or a hybrid system that combines both water softening and conditioning.

 Curious about how long does water conditioner take to work? Water conditioning occurs quickly, so you don’t have to worry about the flow rate being affected or having to wait for conditioned water.

If you are wondering about an electronic water conditioner and if they work, there hasn’t been conclusive evidence one way or the other that electronic or magnetic conditioners are as effective at removing scaling. The available studies have conflicting views on their effectiveness, making them a relatively untested technology.

Which System is Right For You?

If you are weighing your options between a water softener vs water conditioner, it’s helpful to assess the unique features of each system and see how those apply to your life. Both systems are highly effective at reducing the impacts of hard water, yet each system has a unique operation that should be kept in mind.

Water Softeners

Water Conditioners

One thing to note about deciding between a water softener and water conditioner is some cities and regions have laws limiting the use of water softeners. These restrictions, sometimes referred to as brine restrictions, do not allow water treatment systems that flush excess brine down a drain line. This is because many wastewater treatment facilities don’t treat for salt, so excessive levels of salt in the wastewater can limit how that water is reused. So, if you live in an area with brine restrictions contact Rayne so that we can help you determine your most effective treatment system.

 

Closing Thoughts

Both water conditioners and water softeners are highly effective water treatment systems that produce different results. Water softeners address scaling by removing hard minerals from water through a process known as ion exchange. In this process, hard minerals are removed from the water and replaced with sodium ions.

In contrast, most water conditioners remove harmful substances from your water like lead, chlorine, chloramines, and VOCs. Some water conditioners also provide soft water benefits. They do this through a special material that has been imprinted with nucleation sites. As hard minerals pass over the material they form into very tiny crystals. These crystals then attract the other hard minerals in the water, creating a structure that doesn’t form deposits or scale. Don’t worry though, the small crystals formed in conditioned water are too small to taste, feel, or see! 

Both water conditioners and water softeners are great water treatment solutions. We even carry a whole house water filter and softener combo which performs both functions. The underlying process that drives these two soft water systems is fundamentally different, and each has different requirements. Installation for water conditioners tends to be more flexible because they don’t require a drain line.

If you aren’t sure what type of system might be right for you, speak to one of our knowledgeable staff at Rayne Water today! Our water quality experts can assess your water treatment needs and provide you with targeted recommendations. If you aren’t sure about whether a water conditioner or water softener is right for you and are tired of dealing with the effects of hard tap water or water that has an unpleasant smell, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us today!

We have a variety of products from residential and commercial water treatment systems including residential RO system, commercial water softeners, bottleless coolers, salt-free water systems and more. Connect with us for further questions!

Sources

  1. https://continuingeducation.bnpmedia.com/courses/multi-aia/the-intelligent-scale-solution–template-assisted-crystallization
  2. https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/grants_loans/water_recycling/research/ion_exchange_water_softeners.pdf
  3. https://www.osti.gov/biblio/567404
  4. https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a399455.pdf
  5. Vastyan, John. 2010. “Template-Assisted Crystallization.” Heating/Piping/Air Conditioning Engineering 82 (11): 34–37.

Expert Reviewer – Ken Christopher

Best Water Conditioner

Posted by Rayne Water

Do you need a solution to your hard water problems but are having trouble sorting through the available water conditioners on the market? A no salt water conditioner can be a great alternative to salt-based water softening systems, but choosing between systems can be difficult. 

Not all water conditioners will help reduce the impact of hard water around your home. Many water conditioners filter out other contaminants like chlorine and chloramine, but don’t affect water hardness. Understanding the difference between water conditioning systems and their capabilities is essential for finding the best water conditioner for your needs. In order to help you find the best salt free water conditioner, we’ll explore what you should look for in a water conditioner and what you should expect from one in terms of water hardness, flow rate, and more.

What is Water Conditioning?

You may be asking yourself, “what is a water conditioner?”. Water conditioners are an alternative to water softening systems, but they offer very different results. Water conditioners are a water treatment system that removes unwanted substances from your water, including lead, chlorine, chloramines, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 

In contrast, water softening systems are used to remove hard minerals like calcium and magnesium from water. These minerals cause scaling, soap scum, and many other hard water problems around your home.

Water conditioners are a salt-free alternative to water softeners. How does a water conditioner work? Different water conditioners work in different ways. The Best Water Conditioner for reducing the impact of hard water around your home uses a substance known as template-assisted crystallization (TAC) media to physically alter the structure of the minerals in your hard tap water through a process known as nucleation. Specifically, the minerals in water conditioned by these systems have been altered to be crystalline in structure, which ensures they won’t attach and cause buildup to surfaces and fixtures in your home. Calcium and magnesium are two hard minerals that tend to contribute to such a build-up.

While some water conditioners offer a few softening benefits, the primary benefit of a water conditioner is to remove disinfectants used in water treatment such as chlorine, chloramines, VOCs, lead, and organic gases. These substances alter how your water smells and tastes. Conditioned water has had these substances removed, resulting in water that smells cleaner and tastes crisp. 

How long does the water conditioner take to work? Water conditioning happens quickly. As water passes through the water conditioner any harmful chemicals such as chlorine and chloramines are removed. This makes water conditioners capable of providing on-demand conditioned water and providing as much conditioned water as you need. We’re talking gallons and gallons of safe drinking water made readily available.

You may have heard of electronic water conditioning. If you are curious about an electronic water conditioner do they work to reduce scaling, the answer is maybe. The existing research on electronic or magnetic water conditioners is conflicted. For a home water conditioner you know will work, look for units with proven effectiveness.

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Water Conditioner vs Water Softener

Water conditioners and water softeners function in fundamentally different ways and produce very different results. Whereas water softeners are used to remove hard minerals from water, water conditioners are primarily used to remove unwanted chemicals that alter the taste or smell of your water. 

Water softeners achieve this by removing the mineral ions from the water and replacing them with sodium ions – a process known as ion exchange. In contrast, salt free water conditioners use different methods of achieving their goal. Some water conditioners utilize activated carbon to trap unwanted chemicals, while others also incorporate TAC media to provide some soft water benefits.

Both water conditioners and water softeners are considered a point-of-entry (POE) water supply treatment solution. They are installed where your water line comes into your home so that they are able to treat water before it is distributed throughout your home. 

Here are a few of the key ways water conditioners are different from water softeners:

If you aren’t sure whether a tap water conditioner or water softening system is right for you, it may be helpful to schedule a water quality test. A water quality test will tell you what contaminants are present – chlorine, chloramine, heavy metals – and how hard your water is. Schedule a test with Rayne Water today so that one of our technicians can help you assess your water treatment needs and find the best treatment solution for you. Softened or conditioned water is not too far away!

Closing Thoughts

Whether you need a solution for dealing with the effects of hard water around your home, or are looking to remove chlorine and other chemicals and gases from your water, there is an effective system for you. Water conditioners are a salt-free alternative to water softening systems which are used to remove lead, chlorine, chloramines, and other substances that give your water an unpleasant smell or taste.

While most water conditioners won’t provide the benefits of softened water, there are some hybrid systems which will soften and condition water. At the same time, water conditioners like the Spartan 1000/1250 use TAC media to protect against scaling. So no matter what type of water treatment system you need, there’s a solution at Rayne available for you!

To learn more about water conditioners, please contact Rayne Water today. Our knowledgeable staff can help you explore systems that transform the hardness of water and find a solution that fits your needs! It’s time to enjoy clean, soft water. And lots of it!

Find a location near you!

Sources:

  1. http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/g1491.pdf
  2. https://water.unl.edu/article/drinking-water-wells/salt-free-water-softener-alternatives
  3. https://continuingeducation.bnpmedia.com/courses/multi-aia/the-intelligent-scale-solution–template-assisted-crystallization
  4. https://www.osti.gov/biblio/567404
  5. https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a399455.pdf
  6. Vastyan, John. 2010. “Template-Assisted Crystallization.” Heating/Piping/Air Conditioning Engineering 82 (11): 34–37.

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 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.

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

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