Water Softener, I'm learning but still a bit confused....

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by Tlhfirelion, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. Tlhfirelion

    Tlhfirelion New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Missouri
    I had no idea softening water was so complex. I'm here because I'm trying to figure out if a non box store water softener uses less water when regenerating among other things. I won't go into the whole story as to why, but my small community is on one water treatment plant. The less water we send down the drain the better and we also want to reduce our water usage in general. As we've been replacing toilets, fixtures etc as we fix up our house, we go for the more efficient options always. I've heard that the box store water softener can use up to 50 gallons to regenerate and that could happen a couple times a week for our family of 4. That seems like quite a lot of water. Do the various softeners discussed on here use less? Is there an average number of gallons per regen? I read over sizing is an option but then does it become cost prohibitive?

    My last question is about sizing. I've seen it mentioned on here about sizing then system, but I must have missed the formula so if anyone has a link. For info, we are a family of 4, 1500 sq ft house, 1 shower. 1 shower/bath combo, 2 toilets, sinks in kitchen and both baths and we are on a small community well. I used a hard water test strip from lowes and said we are a 15.

    Sorry for the long post as my first, but wanted to paint a picture of our situation. Thank you in advance for any help you are able to provide.
  2. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    742
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    The bigger the unit, the more water will be used the regenerate it, but it will have to regen less often than a smaller unit. You will use less water by getting an electronic unit vs a mechanical one. Clack and Fleck make very good electronic unit that you can program for a specific amount of discharge water. The average discharge per cubic foot of resin may be backwash 10 min @2.4 GPM, brine 60 min @ .33 GPM and final rinse 10 min @ 2.4 GPM. I did not mention refill because you will reuse that water.
  3. Tlhfirelion

    Tlhfirelion New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Missouri
    What model is it? Do you know how I calculate what size I need? Thank you for the reply.
  4. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    2,734
    Location:
    Central Florida
    If money were no object, would an RO system do the job and "waste" less water?
  5. Tlhfirelion

    Tlhfirelion New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Missouri
    RO system?

    Thank you for the reply.
  6. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    3,271
    Location:
    Maine
    Ro's waste more water than anything
  7. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    Location:
    Central Florida
    Reverse Osmosis - water to be treated is forced through a membrane to remove just about any impurities. In theory you would end up with pure water on one side of the membrane, and the impurities would go down the drain, much like when you sift sand through a screen, but apparently in practice you have to waste a lot of water to make that happen.

    Tom, any quantitative data on just how much water it takes to end up with one good gallon?
  8. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    742
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    I would need to know the water quality to answer. The water treatment plant should have or post the water test results. I need to know the hardness, iron amount and pH.
  9. Bob999

    Bob999 In the Trades

    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Typical household RO systems put 4 gallons down the drain for each gallon produced with 90-95% removal of dissolved solids.
  10. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    Location:
    Maine
    Thank you Bob, I've been really busy lately.
  11. silversaver

    silversaver New Member

    Messages:
    42
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    1 out of 5 gallons of water.

    The question I have is... I thought a RO system is a must if you are running a salt base softener. Water softeners do add sodium to tap water.. especially for those with high bloos pressure. Am I getting the wrong info?
  12. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    Location:
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    True, they do add salt, but I don't know how much (Bob? Tom?). The current NIH recommendation for those of us over 51 is no more than 1500mg per day. But recent research suggests a "disappointly weak" link between salt and high blood pressure, and there are even some who say salt is good for you. See http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/food_myths/Salt_Causes_High_Blood_Pressure.php for a biased summary of the current state of salt thought, or read the INTERSALT study. Nevertheless, if I were building a new home today I would run a separate water line from the carbon filter direct to the kitchen sink, bypassing the softener. Then I could have it either way until the health community makes up its mind. Or eat more bananas. Or both.
  13. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,271
    Location:
    Maine
    About a single slice of white bread. Thats how much sodium you get in your softened water. Not much, but if you have medical problems maybe too much in which case you have a couple options. number one, drink bottled water. Number two, put a point of use
    RO filter at a faucet and number three, PUR and a couple others make RO caraffes
  14. Bob999

    Bob999 In the Trades

    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Mikey's suggestion for a separate tap is my preferred solution if the water quality prior to the softener is adequate and the cost is typically no more than installing an RO unit at the point of use.

    But as Tom points out the amount of sodium added by a softener in most applications is relatively small compared to the sodium content of typical processed foods and, I would add, for the individual who needs to restrict sodium intake there are far more productive areas of the typical diet to focus on--processed foods and typical restuarant meals along with use of salt in cooking and at the table to name the primary sources--before any need to worry about the sodium content of the water.

    But you should also be aware that the amount of sodium added by a softener is proportional to the hardness of the water being treated--the higher the hardness the more sodium will be added. So if you have very high hardness water seeking an alternate water source assumes more importance.
  15. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    The formula is 7.85 mg/l of added sodium per grain per gallon of ion exchange (compensated hardness).
  16. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    2,734
    Location:
    Central Florida
    I remember bags of non-sodium "salt" next to the stuff use in the big-box store. Does using that a) truly decrease the sodium in the softened water, b) affect the efficiency of the softener, and c) help those concerned about high blood pressure?
  17. Bob999

    Bob999 In the Trades

    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    You are referring to calcium chloride which can be used to regenerate a softener. When KCL is used as a regenerant the hardness ions are replaced with calcium rather than sodium.

    KCL is much more expensive than NaCL--common salt--and up to 30% more by weight is required as compared to NaCL. For individuals who need to reduce sodium intake and want to drink softened water is an alternative.
  18. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,734
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Pretty sure you mean potassium (K) chloride, not Calcium (Ca). Getting rid of the sodium will lower blood pressure, but elevated potassium levels are dangerous for people with impaired kidney function; it can lead to complications such as cardiac arrhythmia. Bottom line appears to be: soften your water with a high-efficiency, salt-regenerated softener for general use, but add an RO filter to remove the sodium if you're concerned about its health effects, and can't get suitable un-softened water from your system.
  19. Bob999

    Bob999 In the Trades

    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Correct--thanks for posting the correct information.
  20. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,734
    Location:
    Central Florida
    In the OP's case, then, if his Lowe's test strip reading of 15 is accurate, he'd be adding about 118 mg/L, or 446 mg/gallon. Under ideal conditions, the minimum sodium requirement is about 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day -- less than 1 teaspoon of table salt. The maximum recommended level of sodium intake is 2,300 mg per day (1500 per day for us geezers, according to NIH). On average, American men consume between 3,100 and 4,700 mg of sodium per day, while women consume between 2,300 and 3,100 mg (due to their lower calorie intake, not because of restricting sodium). (from http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09354.html).

    Everyone has heard the advice, "Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day." That's about 1.9 liters, which isn't that different from the Institute of Medicine recommendations. Although the "8 by 8" rule isn't supported by hard evidence, it remains popular because it's easy to remember. Just keep in mind that the rule should be reframed as: "Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day," because all fluids count toward the daily total. (from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/water/NU00283)

    So if you add a couple liters of softened 15gpg water per day, you're adding 224mg of sodium, which you'd have to cut somewhere else as you try to stay under 1500mg total. One possible alternative: if you drink a couple liters of beer instead, you'll only add about 75mg of salt :). (from http://nutrition.about.com/od/hydrationwater/p/regbeer.htm)
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