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Old 05-14-2008, 01:41 AM   #1
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Default Water Softener question

I have had mine for about 2 years and I have a question? I bought it because the water around here is hard. I noticed when the water dries it can leave a white residue? What is this and how do I prevent it? Btw my house has a whole house filter installed.

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Chris
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Old 05-14-2008, 02:46 AM   #2
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A water softener uses a salt (typically sodium citrate, but could be a sodium phosphate or polyphosphate) to chelate, or chemically "bind" cations (typically divalent, like calcium or magnesium; but also trivalents like iron) in your water supply.

The chelate is essentially an insoluble divalent cation salt; this is the white residue. If it is a large amount, it just means your water must be particularly hard. It'* the same stuff you see in a cloudy pool when the chemical balance is "off."

There is no practical way to avoid this residue with the quantities of softened water needed for household use like washing; the particles are so small no household-practical filter will strain them, and the kinds of ion-exchange membranes (or other ion-exchange scheme) needed would be industrial in size. I suppose you could build a still and evaporate a few hundred gallons of water a day

This residue is the tradeoff in needing softened water, as hard water doesn't lather soap well (due to divalent cation-lipid interactions), and certain trivalent metals (e.g., iron) can stain clothes.

(Side note: divalent cation-lipid interactions are why Milk of Magnesia makes a good laxative :P )
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Old 05-14-2008, 04:45 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agrazela
A water softener uses a salt (typically sodium citrate, but could be a sodium phosphate or polyphosphate) to chelate, or chemically "bind" cations (typically divalent, like calcium or magnesium; but also trivalents like iron) in your water supply.

The chelate is essentially an insoluble divalent cation salt; this is the white residue. If it is a large amount, it just means your water must be particularly hard. It'* the same stuff you see in a cloudy pool when the chemical balance is "off."

There is no practical way to avoid this residue with the quantities of softened water needed for household use like washing; the particles are so small no household-practical filter will strain them, and the kinds of ion-exchange membranes (or other ion-exchange scheme) needed would be industrial in size. I suppose you could build a still and evaporate a few hundred gallons of water a day

This residue is the tradeoff in needing softened water, as hard water doesn't lather soap well (due to divalent cation-lipid interactions), and certain trivalent metals (e.g., iron) can stain clothes.

(Side note: divalent cation-lipid interactions are why Milk of Magnesia makes a good laxative :P )
Thanks very informative stuff. I did notice there was alot more residue before I had the water softener installed also I used one of those hard water test strips and it says my water is not hard anymore? Thanks for the reply.

Chris
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