Hard water can be a persistent issue in many homes, causing a range of problems from scaling on fixtures to poor soap lathering and even damage to appliances. While traditional water softeners have been the go-to solution, there are alternatives available that offer effective ways to deal with hard water. In this article, we'll explore these water softener alternatives and why you might need one for your home.
Understanding Hard Water: Before diving into the alternatives, let’s understand what hard water is. Hard water contains high levels of minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium ions. These minerals can leave deposits on surfaces, pipes, and appliances, leading to various inconveniences and expenses.
First, do you even have hard water?
Before saying you need a water softener alternative, let’s find out if you have hard enough water that it should be treated. If you’re familiar with the hard white buildup that is typically found on glass shower doors, faucets, and shower heads, then you have hard water. If you’ve noticed that soap doesn’t lather and form suds as well as it should or does in other places, you have hard water. Most of the USA has hard water, but to varying degrees depending on the source of water.
Hard water is often overlooked by homeowners, and in the water treatment industry, but why? Hard water is the result of high mineral content like calcium and magnesium. You’re likely familiar with those being in the multi-vitamin you take, so why is it bad? Well, it’s not, at least not directly. Those are minerals that are good for us to take and have in our diet, but in the water from your well or the city causes havoc.
Scale is difficult to clean and takes the use of harsh chemicals and acid. Yes, scale causes soap suds to break down as quickly as they’re made which is unpleasant to wash dishes and shower with or causing an increase in the amount of soap and detergent needed. The white buildup you see is like an iceberg, only showing a small amount of the problem. Problems occur inside your pipes and water heater, places you never see and where the damage is expensive to fix. When you have scale buildup inside your pipes, you can’t get in there and brush it clean like you can your faucet.
Water softeners are 200-year-old technology!
Water softeners certainly soften the water and while commonly used to address hard water issues, softeners come with their fair share of downsides. One major drawback is the high upfront cost of installation, making it a significant investment for homeowners. Additionally, the ongoing maintenance and regular purchase of salt bags add to the expenses as well as the physical labor of transporting the heavy bags of salt.
Water softeners require a dedicated space, which may not be feasible for homes with limited areas. Moreover, the process of ion exchange in water softeners replaces calcium and magnesium with sodium, potentially increasing sodium levels in drinking water, which might not be suitable for individuals on low-sodium diets.
Furthermore, softened water may have a slick or slippery feel, which some users find undesirable. Most people don’t care for that as it feels like you can’t rinse off. Considering these downsides, many homeowners are seeking practical and cost-effective water softener alternatives to tackle hard water problems and scale issues.
Water Softener Alternatives and How They Work
Filters are essential for homes with suspended solids in their water. If you have sediment in the water from your well, or want to remove the chlorine from the city water a filter is needed. They can improve water quality, but no filter can effectively remove calcium from the water. Hence, they do not provide a complete solution for whole home water. Filters can pair well with other methods for descaling.
Scale Prevention Cartridges:
Scale prevention cartridges, or filters, commonly applied before tankless heaters are not very effective long term. Many of these filters use media that lowers the pH of the water. There are salt free cartridges that can help with scale somewhat. The media agitates the minerals in the water in an attempt to reduce the scaling seen. They’re also quite costly, even more so than water softeners in the initial cost.
Reverse osmosis systems are known for their ability to remove minerals, including calcium and magnesium, from water. While they are highly efficient, they have limitations when it comes to home water use. These systems produce only several gallons of treated water per day, making them impractical for whole-house use but are great options for ice machines and fridge water.
Some homeowners choose to do nothing about hard water and manually descale faucets and fixtures when necessary. While this approach may work for surface cleaning, it doesn’t address the scale accumulation inside pipes and appliances. Over time, this can lead to reduced water flow, clogged pipes, and increased energy consumption. You will also need more soap and detergent need to wash effectively.
Descalers, radio frequency and Electronic:
Easily installed by most homeowners as there is no plumbing required, descalers prevent and remove the mineral buildup you can’t see. They also help with the hard water problems you see on shower doors and with soap lathering. How well they work depends on what specific technology is used.
There are two main types of descalers. Clearwater Enviro previously developed a method to condition the water with radio frequency coils. These are easy to tell apart from electronic descalers as only one end of the wire or coil is attached to the unit. While the radio frequency units are cheaper to produce, the results are nowhere near the electronic descaler type, and for that reason were discontinued in the late 1990’s.
Electronic descalers use a coil wrapped around the pipe, with both ends connected to the unit. The power applied through this coil is extremely effective at conditioning the hard water minerals. The first benefits you’ll see are noticeable within just a couple of days of installing as the soap will lather and form suds once all the water in the pipes and heater are replaced.
ScaleBlaster: An Effective Scale Solution!
The Advantages of ScaleBlaster:
- Environmentally Friendly: Unlike traditional water softeners that rely on chemicals and salt, ScaleBlaster is environmentally friendly, eliminating the need for harmful additives.
- No Maintenance: ScaleBlaster doesn’t require frequent maintenance or costly bag refills, making it a cost-effective and convenient choice.
- Long-Lasting Solution: Unlike scale prevention filters, ScaleBlaster provides a long-lasting solution without the need for constant media replacement.
- Energy Efficiency: By preventing scale buildup in pipes and appliances, ScaleBlaster improves energy efficiency and extends the lifespan of equipment.
- Versatility: ScaleBlaster is suitable for various applications, from residential homes to commercial and industrial settings where scale is a persistent problem. Contact us for more information on your commercial application.
Dealing with hard water doesn’t have to involve traditional water softeners. Water softener alternatives offer effective solutions to the common problems associated with hard water, providing environmental benefits, health advantages, and cost savings. Consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing the right solution for your home, and say goodbye to the hassles of hard water.