View Full Version : Water softening. Latest thoughts

Loose rivets
15th Sep 2008, 17:52
The Rivetess mentioned water softeners this morning. I've recently thrown one away cos it was just too big for the house we're in and although it cost me nowt, would have been difficult to install cos of the salt drainage. Anyway she mentioned those electrical ones.

"They simply can't work." says I. "How would they keep selling the huge and costly to run ones, if a diddy thing and a torch battery would do the job?"

Anyone had any experience with softening. (I've used the old type for years in Essex) Are there any new ideas out there?

15th Sep 2008, 18:04
Anyone had any experience with softening. Ask the guys at Gitmo...?!

IMHO, you're confusing water-softeners that rely on an electical supply (for the valves) to switch between housings and/or regeneration and some water-softeners that rely simply on available water-pressure and a flow-meter when 'regenerating'.

So far as salt for water-softeners go, I've seen prices range locally from 0.75 per kg for a 25kg sack to 5 times as much. All depends where you buy from I guess (and how far away you're from the neighbours - like with Guantanamo), I guess...?! ;)

15th Sep 2008, 18:23
I installed a cistern-type non-electrical one earlier this year in my own and daughter's house. Elementary plumbing done in a day. Works very well, and until you've felt the results, you wouldn't believe how different it feels. I cannot believe a bit of coiled wire makes any difference whatsoever, and there is no proof at all it does. The one I have is like a desktop tower computer. Salt consumption is not large, the difference is evident in this hard water area.

Loose rivets
15th Sep 2008, 20:15
No, it was really to see if there had been any development in the little coiled wire devices -- or an advance in the science of same, that I was wondering about.

One the one hand, salt ion-exchange machines have been going before I was born and are still being sold. So, no other system could work...right?

Back on the first hand, these little devices are still being sold, after many years of people trying to debunk them. They would have been hauled up before the judge of fair-play if they were a total scam....wouldn't they?

I once ported water slowly through a magnet that just hapend to have a 15mm hole through the centre. This magnet had had an exotic valve in that hole, generating radar power emf. It would pull you off your feet if you were holding it near steel closer than 4". It did absolutely nothing to the water condition (tested by boiling a given amount away and weighing the residue.) The minute pulses are supposed to work because they are...erm, pulsing.

Perhaps one of the most sarcastic articles I have ever read was in a trade magazine about these devices. They ridiculed them, yet claims are still made.

It is said that the residue forms in the bottom of the attic tank -- and is re-absorbed, thus nullifying the result. This would be easy to post filter...if it worked in the first place. Anyway, the Rivetess argues for the device based on years of sales pitch. I argue against based on a general feel for physics. I just don't believe it works, and never have done. It's just that I have to try to explain this to a ... hee hee Vegetarian.

15th Sep 2008, 20:26
Bad news: The judge of fair play is probably a vegetarian.

Good news: The science proves it takes as much calcium out of your bones as it does out of the water. Or is it vice-versa? Best not to risk osteowatsit.

west lakes
15th Sep 2008, 20:29
Just move to a soft water area:}

15th Sep 2008, 20:40
Then there's those 'fuel miser' devices that claim tremendous economy from a questionable process.
If such 'snake-oil' systems really worked they would be sold in major stores and merchants rather than only direct from the 'manufacturers' IMO.

15th Sep 2008, 20:53
In my last house I had no room nor money to fit an ion exchange water softener (that is the type which needs salt) and I fitted the wire around the pipe attached to a box of tricks type.

It did work to a noticeable degree in that it made the build up of scale slightly less and the water felt slightly 'softer' however I came to the conclusion that it was not really worth the money or effort.

I now have an ion exchange unit which is a fine investment if you live in an area with diabolically hard water, which I do!

What I have noticed is that we no longer get lime/calcium build up in the bathrooms or kitchen but the fainter and minor deposits we do get are almost impossible to shift and do not respond to the conventional 'limescale removers'. I am guessing that the deposits are a different chemical composition due to the ion exchange and require something else entirely to dissolve and remove them.

Concentrated nitric acid perhaps?

15th Sep 2008, 21:02
A UK version:- Dealing With Hard Water & Limescale (http://www.diydoctor.org.uk/projects/dealing_hard_water.htm)

'Conventional' watersoftener:- This means that treated water has substantially raised sodium levels. Experts advise that this water is not suitable for drinking, so an alternative source of drinking water should ideally be arranged (separate tap in kitchen). This is particularly important if you have children in the house, as they should consume even less sodium than an adult, and on no account should a baby's formula milk be made with water treated by an ion exchange water softener.

This probably means that the calcium carbonate is now sodium carbonate or maybe sodium bicarbonate . . .

15th Sep 2008, 21:10
The science proves it takes as much calcium out of your bones as it does out of the water.
Not a factor. You plumb the kitchen sink cold tap direct from the water supply upstream of the softener, so your drinking water is completely unsoftened. You then try to remember not to drink from the other taps. Just remember to take a glass or jug of unsoftened water up to the other taps.

I'm impressed people still think these magnetic coil 'softeners' are anything more than hot air. It shows a triumph of optimism over experience. Much cheaper, but crap I am quite sure!

15th Sep 2008, 21:29
The major drawback (when I contemplated fitting one in 1977) was the space required (and the location of the rising main). Considerable piping alterations would have been needed to supply bathroom and kitchen yet leaving one tap unsoftened . . .
I never considered one of the electric gizmos.

15th Sep 2008, 21:38
Slightly off topic but there is a full-page advert in the local paper for a drinking water machine that provides "100% pure drinking water" out of the air!

Claimed to provide around 7ltrs a day (IIRC) with "no connections to pipework".

How does that work?

15th Sep 2008, 21:44
It's simply a de-humidifier. Re-cycles your sweat.

Don Coyote
15th Sep 2008, 22:31
Tried the coil device and could not tell any difference.

Installed a silliphos system 2 years ago and it really work; I have had not had to de scale the kettle in 2 years and it used need doing once every 2 months. Not sure of how or why it should work, just know that it does.

Loose rivets
16th Sep 2008, 06:07
Strange thing is, when I got my house in Essex, it had a vast plumbing system that circulated all the time the water was being heated. While setting about this uneconomical state of affairs, I was horrified to see that some pipes were very silted up. The house was only 8 years old.

Long story short, I got an old Permutitt from the local adds for 60 quid and installed it in an outbuilding. After installing this, and several intentional boil-ups, I got bucket loads of (curved shaped bits) of calcium out of the bath taps. Within five years all the pipes were clean as a whistle inside. ( you know these things when you're always messing with the plumbing.) When I scrapped a washing machine after nearly 20 years, it was like new inside.

Strangely, I used to drink the water (post filtered, but that wouldn't have taken any salt out) It was beautiful. Mind you, I used a LOT of salt in those days so perhaps I didn't taste it, but my hair was very 'fluid' after showering.

For some reason, I shelled out on a new machine. It was supposed to be commercial size and a goodun, but the water was terrible. My hair was worse that after swimming in the sea. That was the quick test. The boiling thing was to back up what became an unpleasant argument with the vendor. He caved in at the mention of Small Claims court.

This is when I experimented with other ideas, but I never shelled out on one of the pulsing gizmos. By the sound of it, I'm glad I didn't. Nothing worked. Having just spent some time in the lake district, I'm reminded just how lovely soft water is. The house was cut into a hill and had a well that was at the back door. Coming home pi$$ed was a challenge, as they hadn't covered it very well yet.

Anyway. Here I am back in Texas, and drinking rock. Flavorsome, but never the less, hard enough to set me in stone in five years. So, does drinking hard water cause kidney stones? That's my next thought. Just where does all that rock go to. BTW, I'm of the opinion that the only way to keep fittings and tiles nice is to dry them every time. Sounds difficult, but with some of these cheap towels that are available now, I wipe things dry as a matter of habit.

Timing it out, it probably gives a net saving of time over the years. Sheeesh I'm rambling tonight. Met a lovely neighbor in a store a while back, she's really nice. When I saw her backing away with eyes staring, I realized that I'd been talking about plumbing practically the whole conversation. That's really sad how age creeps up on one.

16th Sep 2008, 07:01
Has no one tried rain water harvesting?

That should do wonders for your machines and toilets.

Windy Militant
16th Sep 2008, 08:34
As for toilets in lieu of fitting a water softener I recycle the Siliphos crystals. After they've done a stint in the Combimate they go into a plastic milk bottle with holes punched in it positioned under the ballvalve silencer pipe. It's taken a while but I no longer have scale under my rim any more.
For drinking I've fitted an industrial Liff filter unit which takes a dual cartrige activated carbon and wound polymer partical filter. It's not as good as Teifi pools water but a damn sight better than it arrives from Thames Water.
Eventually I'll replumb and fit a softener but till then. ;)

B Fraser
16th Sep 2008, 10:16
Slightly off topic but there is a full-page advert in the local paper for a drinking water machine that provides "100% pure drinking water" out of the air!

Claimed to provide around 7ltrs a day (IIRC) with "no connections to pipework".

I have a bucket in the garden that does just that. I don't fancy a condenser in the house that liquifies stale breath, sweat and farts :yuk:

16th Sep 2008, 10:17
And don't think you can get away with it drinking bottled water. Apart from being outrageously extravagant, it is not healthy. Too much calcium (kidney stones apparently), and banned for babies bottles.

I have found tap water smells and tastes foul. the answer is to use a fridge water filter- those Brita things do the job well and cheaply, removing all smell and taste, and out of the fridge- lovely! You will enjoy water all over again- it is the best drink!

16th Sep 2008, 12:14
If you want smelly water, just boil the same water in your kettle more than once - gets really sulphurous!

Loose rivets
17th Sep 2008, 04:15
Typically here in Texas, the A/C will pull 12-20 gallons of water out of a house A DAY.

I've diverted an measured it, but never done tests to check on the bacteriological levels.

The water is condenced on the A frame. A radiator inside the box in the house. The trouble is, that the house air circulates and re-circulates through it, and it really does get covered in gunge.

The water works after a simple filter for windshield washers and car radiators, but I've never had the bottle (ho ho) to drink it...even boiled. Walmart sell distilled quality at 67c per US gal.

I did in fact ask about hard water / kidneys on the medical forum. I would be pleased to get links to any serious science on that subject. I've had a gall-bladder stone size of a small chicken's egg, and the pain was...well, six pethidine at a time jobber, and a blue light to Colchester hospital. So, I don't relish the idea of kidney stones and would drink nothing but distilled water for the rest of my life if I felt it would help. It cleaned out my house, so why not my pipes? :ooh: