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Help! I need somebody ... 
4th-Apr-2008 12:17 pm
With a little information

Husband has heard tell of a new (just released in the last year or so) water softening technique that does not require any kind of salt (nor potassium or other salt product) to do its thing.  It sounds a bit on the edge, but as far as he can tell, it is chemically sound (he is a chemist by training.)  However, it's enough on the edge that he'd like some info from someone other than a salesperson.

Do any of my home construction fans here know anything about this?

Thanks in advance!
4th-Apr-2008 04:52 pm (UTC)
Nope, it's bogus. Really.

Let me guess - catalytic precipitation of Ca and Mg ions, and then the non-reactive nanosized particles are flushed away?
5th-Apr-2008 12:12 am (UTC)
No, not quite.

Catalytic crystallization - I'm not the chemist of the family. This technology, unlike many of its look-a-likes does not claim to be a softener -- rather that it minimizes the undesirable effects (scaling, soap scum) of hard water, but leaves the Ca and Mg in the water. The technology is termed "template assisted crystallization" or TAC.

US version appears to be best exemplified by Pelican. Find out more about it here:


Found a scathing debunking of catalytic "softening" in general, but most of the complaints were geared to claims not made by this technology (no magnets, no precious metals ...)

Do you know anything specifically about this?
5th-Apr-2008 03:36 pm (UTC)
No, I've never had experience with such a product.

It's a masterfully written document. No unusual hype. It does claim they by using TAC it produces "seed crystals for further crystal formation downstream in the plumbing system. The NaturSoft™ media works as catalyst only, not as a filtration media."


it will descale existing surfaces - "in a few days you can observe that the white scale starts to disappear "

I have my doubts, but it should be easy to test if you go this way. Use it for a few months. Then, put it in bypass and see if you notice a difference. Bonus points if your SO does it without telling you :-)

Let me know. It's possible it works within the more moderate claims being made.
5th-Apr-2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
The descaling of prior buildup has to do with the crystallization process, which releases CO2; carbolic acid over time cleans the lime deposits. That's also why someone coming from a ion-exchange softener to this technology will initially experience increased lime output. Presumably, these lime deposits join the crystals and therefore do not go into solution. All of this has to do with surface chemistry, and I can grasp the basic concepts, but not the nitty-gritty chemistry. Husband knows some surface chemistry, but nothing younger than 20 years or so.

The lack of filtration obviates the backwash and regeneration cycles.

There's an international standards organization out of Germany, which was where this research started. Germany decided to qualify the result of water treatment. This is the test:

Two small water heaters of approx 3 gals. One is plumbed directly to the hard water supply, the other to the device being tested, which is plumbed to the same hard water supply. Water in each is heated to 175 F for 30 mins. A measure of hot water is drained from each tank, replaced with equal amount cold (from the water source.) This cycle goes for 16 hours, then rests for 8 (average household use) for 21 days. Both tanks are then drained and filled with dilute acid to dissolve any scale on the heater coils. To pass the test, the treated water coil must not accumulate more than 20% as much as accumulated by the raw water coil. IE, a passing grade is 80. Few of the known physical water treatment methodologies out there get close. The test is the "DVGW test."

The TAC technology acheived a score of 99.6 percent.

The other benefits of this technology are energy efficiency and low maintenance.

Why do I sound so smart all of a sudden? Husband found an article which was published in the Febraury 2007 issue of "Water Conditioning and Purification" journal by Karen R. Smith, the executive editor. She concludes the article thusly:

"While there was a time when snake oil and mirrors were being foisted on unsuspecting customers as water treatment devices, today's alternataive physical water treatment technologies are legitimately making use of science's latest discoveries. the result is u ndtraditional means to accomplishing water treatment goals. It is time to allow scientific proof to be the final judge."

Evidently IAMP and WQA are in the process of establishing protocols. My next research will be to see if there's been any progress since 2/07.

Article is here: http://www.wcponline.com/pdf/0702Tech%20Talk.pdf

See what you think? We want to be as "green" as possible with our new home, and this is exciting, if not bogus.

Edited at 2008-04-05 06:09 pm (UTC)
4th-Apr-2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
Well, you can treat hard water using reverse osmosis, which requires no salt. The price of home sized units has come down in recent years and if I had to remove lots of iron or calcium from well water, it'd be the way I'd go. (I personally loathe slimy, over-softened water with a passion.)
5th-Apr-2008 12:12 am (UTC)
Yeah, this was our first thought. But, there still aren't any true whole-house RO units. They still are oriented just for the kitchen. (sigh)
7th-Apr-2008 02:02 am (UTC) - your blog/journal
Carol, I hope my suggestion about a intro. didn't sound like a criticism. It was another blog that prompted the suggestion. Your tags are very useful for "catching up" on your journal. Your entries are so engaging as you are so good at sharing your internal process. :))
7th-Apr-2008 03:40 pm (UTC) - Re: your blog/journal
Thanks for the compliments. Keep 'em coming. :-)

No, no offense taken, nor did I think it a criticism. It was a valid critique, actually, and something I see in a lot of blogs. So I gave it the serious consideration it deserved.

I'm glad to know that I'm already covered. I'm so new to this side of computing that it will be a while before I am able to do some basic things.

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