Does softener remove smell?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by scubatke, Oct 1, 2004.

  1. scubatke

    scubatke New Member

    Oct 1, 2004
    Hopefully someone can settle a household disagreement.

    My understanding of how a water softening system works, makes me believe that the softener removes calcium and magnesium but does nothing for rust or smell (I have an in-line carbon filter for this).

    My wife is sure that the softener removes rust and smell and occasionally when there is a little smell to the water she always asks if there is enough potassium in the softener reservoir.

    :confused: So my question is, does a softener system do anything for rust and smell?

  2. Deb

    Deb Plumber

    Sep 5, 2004

    Hubby wins!
    I don't really do much with softeners and water treatment systems, so I can't tell you exactly what it does do, but I can tell you what it doesn't do. It doesn't treat iron (what I believe you are refering to as rust) and whether or it will take care of an odor, I would imagine would depend on the source of the odor, but usually not. Water treatment is a specialized thing, your system should be tailored to your specific water conditions after a water analysis is done, usually at the source. However, all water here is well water and I see alot of systems.
    Rust......? When you say rust, do you mean you have iron in your water? Rust is basically a byproduct of corrosion when iron or steel comes in contact with air and moisture and results when you have galvanized in your system. Iron however, is something else entirely. The iron is IN your water, it cannot be filtered out, a softener does not remove it, you need a treatment system designed to treat iron (and any other things in your water that need treated). To properly treat well water, many people need both a softener and an iron treatment system and an expert to tell them what they need.
    The Pipewench
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  4. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Aug 31, 2004
    Wherever I park the motorhome.
    Yes hubby wins. A little help in understanding softeners... rust is Ferric iron commonally called house hold rust and softeners don't like it. But Ferrous iron is removed by ion exchange (water softeners) because it is clear water soluable iron. You can't see it in water until it converts to Ferric iron. Ferric iron, or red water insoluable iron, is visible and occurs when Ferrous iron is oxidized. That happens when water with Ferrous iron is depressurized and aerated. Air/oxygen is an oxidizer and it turns steel or cast iron into Ferric iron (dusty rust) over time if it is in contact with air. Some (few) people can taste Ferrous iron in water. Fewer IMO can smell it but... there is at least one other form of "iron". It is IRB (iron reducing or related bacteria) and it stinks up the place fairly soon and mostly because sulfate reducing/related bacteria usually tag along with IRB. SRB is responsible of H2S gas but you don't have to have SRB in the water to have H2S in the water. All types of reducing/related bacteria are harmless. Softeners do nothing to prevent bacteria (or odor) but some (very few) softeners may have a means to combat bacteria from colonizing the resin bed and/or have carbon (some is silver impregnated) or KDF in the tank with the resin. Which IMO is a bad idea but that's another post but they do remove odor and some of the causes for odor. You can do that with a 1/4 cup of bleach added to the brine water and doing a manual regneration.

    Of course there is a limit to the amount of Ferrous iron that a softener can remove. IMO that is about 4-5 ppm although some claim up to 10-15 ppm but they use different resins than the normal softener and maybe a different distributor tube.

    Quality Water Associates
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