& Catalytic Water Conditioners
What is a magnetic or catalytic water conditioner anyway?
A. Magnetic water conditioners pass water through a magnetic
field, and catalytic water condtioners employ a slight pressure
drop and a catalytic metal alloy to treat water. There are three
main types: non-electric magnets, electrically powered magnets,
and catalytic conditioners. Some conditioners use both a magnetic
field and a catalytic alloy. Both systems attempt to treat water
hardness and prevent
scale build up in piping without the use of salt or filter media.
The type of system we sell, the Enviro
Scale conditioner, uses both a a catalytic alloy and a non-electric
magnet to treat the water.
Q. Can I use these in place of a water
A. Generally, no, but it depends on what you are trying
to achieve. If you don't care about water hardness spots and just
want to protect piping systems from scale build up, then they
can be used in place of a water softener. If your water hardness
is in the range of 5 to 15 grains per gallon, and you know you
don't want a water softener, then these systems are your next
Q. Is all water hard?
A. No. Waters above 6 to 8 grains of calcium carbonate per gallon
are considered "hard". If you are on a private well or spring, you
test your water. Not all city waters are hard. If you see white
spots and scale on fixtures and appliances though, chances are the
water is "hard".
Q. How can I tell if the catalytic conditioner is working?
A. This is difficult, since there is currently no way to analyze
the water to see if the water has been treated. Since no minerals
are actually removed, the water chemistry appears the same before
and after the system. The only approach that works is to inspect
the piping itself after a few years to see if scale is building
Q. I don't want to use a water softener because I don't
want to put salt in my water; isn't salt a health problem?
A. No. The sodium level in softened water is very small,
and depends on the hardness of the water and the amount of water
one would consume. For instance, very hard water containing 20
grains/gallon (also expressed as 340 mg/liter) would add 340 mg
of sodium for every liter (about a half a gallon) of water drank.
One would have to drink over four gallons of water to exceed recommended
daily sodium levels, and in many cases much more than that. Still,
catalytic conditioners are easier to install and maintain then
Q. Is there any maintenance involved with catalytic water
A. Yes. The unit should be installed with unions, so it
can be removed on a yearly basis and cleaned with white vinegar.
Mineral deposits can build up on the catalytic core rendering
Q. Are there any water conditions in which I should NOT
use a catalytic conditioner?
A. Yes. Don't use a catalytic conditioner if there is any
iron, oil, phosphates or tannins in the water to be treated, as
these can build up on the core within a very short period of time,
making it inoperative, or requiring frequent cleaning.
Q. Is the water good for drinking after being treated with
the catalytic conditioner?
A. These units do not affect the water either way for drinking.
In some cases though, based on the release of dissolved carbon
dioxide, the taste of the water is improved slightly for drinking,
but no actual purification takes place.
Will I save on soap or laundry products by using conditioned water?
A. Yes, very slightly. The surface tension of the water
is improved, so soap will dissolve more easily, but one does not
save the same as in water softening.
Q. How does the Advanced Water Systems know so much about these
A. We have installed several hundred catalytic conditioners
over the years, and all data is from anecdotal references from
our customers. Most people seem to see no difference, but some
clients swear by them and reorder them when they move etc. Generally
there is scant scientific evidence to support the claims by the
catalytic conditioner manufacturers, but there is demand for them,
and they do seem to have some effect, particularly on scale build-up,
so we offer them conditionally to our customers. Caveat emptor.
Q. Are there any scientific tests that have been done on these
A. Yes, and the water treatment industry, the Water
Quality Assocation and the standards testing organization, NSF
International are in the process of setting up testing and standards
for these systems, so we may have more information in the years