Monday, February 27, 2012

Water De-scalers don't work!

"Huh? Has Jim lost his marbles? What's a water de-scaler?" Ya, it's nothing to do with photography, but this will be of interest to anyone who lives on well & septic, like me. For us people that live outside the city, that view out your living room window may stir the soul, but there's always gremlins here and there that will keep the country home owner humble. Plumbing is one of them. Hard water specifically.

Water Water Everywhere
Seems that no matter where you dig a well, you'll find water. The water will be hard, meaning, it will have a lot of dissolved minerals such as calcium and iron, but how hard your water is will vary. And after a dry summer, the dissolved calcium was quite bad for us, to the point that we even bought a new dishwasher thinking the old one was defective.  Nope - it was the water.  The coating of white on all our dishes was amazing... it was so bad, clear glasses were opaque. I started running vinegar with the last rinse cycle, and that helped immensely, though there was still spotting. So, off to Goggle I ran for help.

Back in Calgary, I had heard of these electrical water softeners that didn't use salt, so I did my research. I didn't want to dump salt into my septic tank, or in the ground at all... After days of reading contradictory evidence ("they work great!", "it's all junk science."), I decided to give it a go, and ordered one on-line.  With a 90-day money-back guarantee I figured I was safe.

Junk Science
Well, after almost 3 months, I have to say that the technology is pretty well useless. They're supposed to crystallize the calcium carbonate, effectively changing it from a dissolved state. I saw no difference whatsoever in the water softness.  The unit I bought was supposedly good up to 50 grains of hardness (almost 1,000 ppm). Our water is 14 grains of hardness, well within the range of the unit's capabilities.

So much for trying to save a few bucks, and trying to be easy on the environment.  I was told by that famous water softener company to dig a dry well and dump the salt water there. That doesn't change the fact that more sodium is leaching into the soil...

So, if you come over for a glass of beer, don't be surprised if you see me rinsing one off the glass in the sink and polishing it up... it's the only way to get rid of those hard water stains!

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