Salt regenerated, ion-exchange water softeners
Water softeners are a proven solution to hard water. They have been in use in Buckingham Palace – which has a Kinetico softener – for over 100 years. But until recently they were just too big and too expensive for most homes. Which is why there are so many alternative products (such as Calgon) for tackling the many symptoms of limescale.
Only a water softener will prevent all of these hard water problems at source. And only a water softener will give you luxuriously soft water to bathe in. Because only a water softener actually removes the hardness from your water. Using proven technology, based on well understood science – that will even save you money.
Alternatives to water softeners
Physical Water Conditioners
Costing anywhere from £20 to £1000 and also called ‘magnetic water conditioners’ or ‘salt-free softeners’.
These devices pass the water through either a magnetic field or a tank of catalyst. This supposedly causes the hardness ions to form clusters that don’t stick to surfaces as scale. However there is no scientific basis to this approach and research shows that they have no effect in 70% of homes.
Cons: The water is not softened; any scale prevention only lasts for 24 hours; and often there is often no effect at all.
Pros: This provides hit-and-miss boiler protection at best – polyphosphate dosing is a safer bet for boiler protection.
Polyphosphate Dosing Devices
Costing anywhere from £30 to £150, these are typically a 10″ long container plumbed in just before a boiler.
These devices leak polyphosphate (a food-grade chemical) into the water. Any metallic heating element immediately after the device becomes coated in a protective layer of polyphosphate. This prevents limescale from sticking to it when the water is heated.
Cons: The water is not softened and you must remember to refill with polyphosphate every 6-12 months.
Pros: This is proven technology that will protect your boiler, if properly installed and refilled when needed.
Live With Hard Water
Hard water won’t kill you, but it is really expensive – creating £200 to £600 per home of extra costs:
- In hard water areas, most washing machine breakdowns are caused by limescale. As are dripping taps, blocked showerheads, scaled up boilers – and so on.
- Hard water more than doubles the volume of cleaning chemicals needed. From limescale busting bleaches, to laundry detergents, shampoos and conditioners.
- Not to mention the wasted time scrubbing ugly limescale deposits from bathrooms and kitchens. Only to leave the surfaces looking prematurely worn.