Are salt based water softeners truly necessary?
Because of water use costs and the growing public awareness of pollution, it may be wise to think deeply before specifying, purchasing, or even repairing water softeners that rely on salt and wasted water to soften water.
The first thing is to consider why certain waters need softening. The common rationale is because the water measures hard. The real culprit in the water is the bicarbonates and sulfates of calcium with the bicarbonate form being by far the most prevalent. When water containing calcium bicarbonate is heated even a little bit, counter intuitively the hardness becomes less soluble and drops out of the water as calcium carbonate which is limestone. This stone-like material coats the inside of pipes restricting the flow lines water heaters and boilers shortening their life and creates the ugly scale on fixtures that needs to be chipped off or dissolved with acid. Additionally, prior to becoming limestone, the calcium interferes with soaps and detergents causing soap scum and poor rinsing of laundry.
Once total hardness is identified, a professional should measure both the calcium and the harmless magnesium hardness which does not cause scale nor does it have a negative effect on laundry or bathing. The calcium portion of the hardness may be low enough to eliminate the need for softening altogether. To determine this, a properly trained technician will test the water for bicarbonate alkalinity and pH. These values along with water temperature are then used to create number without units called the Langeliers Saturation Index (LSI). A positive LSI number indicates the presence of scaling potential and necessary treatment and a 0 or negative number will indicate no treatment necessary. By generating two LSI numbers with one for room temperature water and one for heated water, it’s often possible to provide treatment to the line feeding the water heater with no treatment for the balance of the facility. This ultimately saves hundreds of dollars for a residential application and thousands of dollars for large water users such as hotels, motels, schools, hospitals, dormitories, etc.
Because of the aforementioned water costs and municipal concerns about salt discharge into sewers, Vibrant Water offers residential, commercial and industrial products designed to address the calcium hardness without the use of salt or chemicals, zero waste to drain, no electricity and a historically validated no service or repairs life in excess of 15 years. These include our Enviro Scale Free ESF and Aquafer AWS systems.