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Salt-free water treatment


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For the past several years we've had a 10,000 grain Watts water softener that we've used to deal with hard TX water at our winter location (and elsewhere). However, with the use of a washing machine a softener of that size requires fairly frequent recharging. I know I could have purchased a larger softener but I wanted to share an alternative that we've now installed.

For years there have been a variety of devices that have claimed to combat hard water though the use of electricity and magnetism but I've not been convinced that these had any scientific evidence of actually working. But while investigating these, I did come across what's called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) which is sort of a catalytic process in which a "filter" material is used to cause dissolved calcium and magnesium ions to form "soft" crystals which don't cause scale. The minerals are still present in the water but they don't result in the formation of scale. In fact, they are "active" enough to actually remove some of the scale that's previously been formed. In addition TAC eliminates the need to get rid of brine every time you recharge the softener system and reduces the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in the wastewater.

If you're interested here's a presentation by scientists at Arizona State University which compares the efficacy of TAC compared to several "electromagnetic" anti-scale systems. The TAC comes out far superior: http://www.714water.com/docs/Peter-F...p-TurboTAC.pdf

I'll be honest and admit that TAC isn't a miracle solution. It has pluses and minuses. Since it doesn't remove the dissolved minerals the actual hardness of the water doesn't change so that you don't get to use less soap. OTOH there are medical studies which show the benefits of drinking water with minerals as opposed to water that has been softened and largely had its minerals removed. Lastly, TAC systems contain a fairly expensive "filter" which has to be replaced every couple of years but over that interval you won't have to have purchased salt and you'll avoid the time spent in periodic recharging.

It appears that the research on TAC was mostly done ~10 years ago and several companies now have marketed systems based on the concept. One of those is sold by Watts, a well-respected name in the water treatment business and that's the one I have now purchased and installed. The tank is slightly shorter than the one for my 10,000 grain softener and I don't have to provide for getting rid of the brine during recharging. I only need to be able to access the filter every 2-3 years (according to the manufacturer). The directions say to make it the last water treatment element in your system so ahead of it I have plumbed my existing whole house filter in which I use 1 micron filter material.

So now I wait to see if I can detect any differences. The instructions say that for the first 30-90 days there may actually be an increase in the quantity of scale buildup in faucet aerators, etc., because the treated water will break down some of the already existing scale that has accumulated in the plumbing. Beyond that I'll have to see if there seems to be less scale in the plumbing, but exactly how I will measure that I don't know. It's difficult to measure the efficacy of a system whose efficacy you have no direct way of measuring! coolsmiley.gif

My intent in posting this is to acquaint people with the concept of TAC so that they can evaluate if it might appeal to them. I have no business interest in Watts or any other water treatment company.

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2 hours ago, Chalkie said:

Very interesting Joel. What brand and model did you get if you don't mind me asking. After reading the article I looked at a couple of systems and they seem too tall to install in the basement of the RV. 

I bought this one:  Watts OneFlow.  The height is deceptive because you don't drop the bottom out like you do with a whole house filter.  You simply unscrew the top and remove the filters.  I had more than enough height to install mine in the basement.

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