Archive for the ‘Types of Water Softener’ Category

Saltless Water Softener

There are many reasons why you might want a saltless water softener. This page has information on other alternatives and some of the possible downsides that people attribute to using a water softener system that uses salt to soften your hard water problem.

One of the first problem and sometimes major problem with a water softener system that uses salt is that of course your water will have a very high amount of sodium which for some people can be hazardous, highly dependent if you have a particular medical situation or if you have a particularly strong hard water system which of course means more sodium overall in your water. Another drawback is that certain regions ban softener systems that use salt due to possible environmental damage.
So what are the alternatives?

waterThe first one is a water softener potassium chloride system which does practically everything the same without requiring salt. Most modern water softener systems that are meant to be used with salt can also be used with potassium chlorine but make sure to read your manual first of course to confirm that it can indeed be used as a salt free water softener. Potassium chlorine basically simply replaces salt when recharging the resin beads while being healthier for you and the environment. Some nutritionists say we can use more potassium in our diets in general so unlike salt, which is usually something we should reduce, there’s actually a health benefit in making the change. Of course, this switch comes at a cost because a “saltless water softener” will cost much more than a traditional system that uses salt since potassium is more expensive

There are many alternatives that are often proposed when you want a saltless water softener but keep in mind to always double check if the system seems that it can work and if they have a warranty or other such promotions. There are many systems out there that many vendors claim are a “salt free water softener” but simply do not remove the hard water minerals as effectively! So after installing one of these systems make sure to double check if the hardness of your water is actually decreased.

Finally another alternative are systems that are based around a reverse osmosis system (sometimes called an electronic water softener) that basically uses magnets to remove minerals such as those that create your hard water problem. A problem that has been put forward at times with this salt free water softener system is that if you drink the resulting water it’s lacking in essential minerals you should be getting from water. Ideally, you probably want to turn your water softening system into a potassium chloride water softener so that the water is drinkable and not harmful to the environment! Their are other proposed solutions by different companies but while some of them might work, if you decide to go this route make sure to double check after installation how well the hard water problem Is actually being filtered.

Water Softener Resin

water softener resin guide

To the left is how the sodium ions will prevent the calcium and magnesium from leaving the tank while to the right it's the way the tank will clean itself of the hard metals it previously collected. The cleaning is an important step to preserve your softener system's effectiveness

The water softener resin is very important for the overall functioning of your water softener. The resin is responsible for replacing the magnesium and calcium ions with sodium ions from the salt. When you setup your water softener salt after choosing the salt you want to use in your system the resin should be full of sodium ions if you recharged the water softener resin beads properly by following the instruction manual. As water is diverted and passes in the mineral tank the sodium ions are slowly removed and over time the resin beads will lose its effectiveness.

This is when you want to use water softener salt which will basically recharge the resin by replenishing it with sodium irons that can attract and “soften” magnesium/calcium. You will have to divert the water to a “brine tank” that will contain the previously trapped magnesium and calcium ions. If you’re not clear on the many different water softener parts make sure to read on them!
The water softener resin should last 15+ years so when the water softener is starting to not properly do its job it’s most likely because the resin needs to be recharged with salt. If you notice the resin is starting to last less and less long before it needs to be recharged it’s a good sign that it might be time to change it.

There are different types of resin that are used in water softener systems currently. Some of the more popular ones are: standard cation and fine mesh resin.

  • The standard cation, sometimes called hi-cap resin, is best used with water that has less than 3-5 parts per molecule ( p.p.m.) It has a 8% cross link which is basically a number that explains how “tight” it is in allowing magnesium or sodium to pass. Higher is technically better but 8% should be fine for most users.
  • Fine Mesh Resin is even more concentrated and will work better with hard water that has a higher p.p.m. If you live in a rural area and your water does not come from a municipal water system you might be a likely candidate in using a fine mesh resin.

If your looking to change your softener resin than make sure to consult the manual that should come with your system in case it differs from the following general steps. Turn the water off before and unplug the power. You then disconnect the plumbing and remove the resin filter to replenish it with new “resin”/sodium. After you simply put back the control head on top and reconnect everything.

Water Softener Systems

As mentioned on other pages, water softener systems are used as hard water solutions because hard water can damage your plumbing due to the high mineral density in addition to making it harder to actually do simple tasks that require water such as cleaning dishes.
water softners
Their are multiple types of water softening systems to deal with this problem and most of these have their own ups and downs. The most used method which is the focus of this website is by using a water softener machine that uses salt. This is widely used because it is by far the cheapest solution. Another often used solution is by using a reverse osmosis water softener which will extract the minerals that cause hard water by basically using magnets. Keep in mind that none of these methods are perfect. While reverse osmosis, sometimes called an electronic water softener, produces drinkable water it is often critiqued that it has a low mineral count.  It is also usually the most expensive method and wastes a lot of water while producing drinkable water. On the other hand, a water softener salt system is less expensive but keep in mind you might need a separate cold water line for drinking or cooking water since if you have to use a very hard water softener it might be hazardous to consume water with such high sodium proportions. Another alternative for your drinking water is to simply buy bottled water . Some states in the US also ban certain types of water softeners based around salt so you would have to look into getting a saltless water softener system.

The water softener system should be installed where the water line enters the home.

A water softening system that uses salt will add sodium to the water, specifically by recharging the water softener resin, and reduce/eliminate the concentration of calcium and magnesium that creates the hard water problem.

A more scientific explanation on how do water softeners work is that the calcium and magnesium ions are replaced by sodium ions.  As the water passes through a bed of small plastic beads, also called the resin, the magnesium and calcium ions are attracted to these beads and “stick” to it. The sodium ions are then released by these beans and replace the calcium and magnesium as the water passes. Over time the beads will need to be replaced or regenerated by having more salt added to them and cleaning the water softener machine to get rid of all the calcium and magnesium.

Water softener systems work but keep in mind the advantages/disadvantage behind all of them, whether you choose a salt based system or one of the other salt free water softener systems. If your willing to go on the more expensive side of choices you might want to consider a system such as the kinetico water softeners which seem much more environmentally friendly and do not even require any outside electricity to run! Kinetico water softener systems can also be used with potassium chloride so you can then have a saltless water softener system. Another system for those who do not have “very hard” water is using the previously mentionned osmosis/electronic water softener that uses magnets to remove the hard water minerals.

If you think shopping for one of the many options of water softener systems is overkill than you might want to try out a calgon water softener which are not actually a “system” and more of a inexpensive product that you mix with your dishes and detergents so you can actually wash your dishes despite having hard water. The calgon water softener products are most useful if you don’t really worry about your plumbing and simply want to be able to effectively wash your dishes.

Other water softener systems on this website are an explanation on fleck water softener and morton water softener !

Water Softener Salt: Different salt’s and maintenance

Water softener salt is one way to deal with hard water. It’s used to remove the calcium and magnesium that makes “hard water”.

Their are thee water softener salts available.

-Rock Salt, obtained from deposits on the ground
-Solar Salt, obtained from harvested evaporation of sea water
-Evaporated Salt, obtained by mining underground dissolving salt deposits and isolating the salt.

These three types of salt have a point in common, they all use sodium chloride to deal with hard water.

Which water softener salt should I use?

first off, you must consider the hardness of your water. These 3 options have different levels of water solubility.
Rock salt is the cheapest alternative but for a good reason, it is less refined and contains matter that is not water-soluble which will force you to clean your water softening reservoirs more frequently.
Evaporated salt is the “cleanest” of the 3 options while Solar salt is in-between.

You do not necessariwater softener salt examplely need to choose evaporated salt even if it’s the best option, at a higher price. If you want to use rock salt or solar salt you must consider how much you need to use a water softener salt.
If you use it frequently then rock salt might become a major hassle since you will often have to clean up your water softener system. You must also consider the quality of your water softener system, it might not be able to handle certain types of salt like rock salt.
It might also simply be recommended to be used with a specific type of water softener salt. It might be harmful to try different water softener salts if you so choose but make sure to read the instructions of your model. To avoid any risk simply wait until your unit is empty before trying a new type of salt.

Your water softener should be checked every month and be kept to at least half-full. In the case of rock salt you might have to clean it up to 3 times a year which will be more often than other types of salt.

So in conclusion when choosing your water softener salt you must consider

  1. What salt is recommended to be used with the water softener system your purchase
  2. How often you are willing to clean your system ( you will have to clean it more often if you use rock salt)
  3. How hard your water is (the harder the water the more you should consider solar or evaporated salt over rock salt)

If you have very hard water also consider having another extra cold water line that will not be in the water softener salt system. This is because very hard water will have much more sodium and it can become hazardous over long periods of time. Other options can be to investigate into water softener salt potassium which does practically the same thing but should be better for your health. However it is more expensive than the previously mentioned salt options. Here are additional pages of information if your looking into buying a saltless water softener or other systems that use kinetic energy to power themselves such as the kinetico water softeners.

Theirs some more great information on water softener salt systems here