Do electronic water descalers work? In the world of home water purification and softening hard water, you will find many people purporting to have super solutions to all the problems in the world with their new shiny product.
For this reason, it’s not surprising that many of these products are often touted as shams and the science behind them pseudoscience, at best. Or at least it seems that way when you read it!
Do electronic water descalers even work?
The ClearWave, for example, is a very popular electronic water descaler. In their product description, they state that the product uses electromagnetic waves to change the chemicals(specifically, calcium, magnesium, and manganese) that are responsible for hard water in a way that they no longer stick to your pipes and appliances.
Industrial solutions are strong enough to actually knock the calcium loose from inside your pipes but the models usually made for home use are nowhere near that strong.
ClearWave even presents a detailed study in which they asked an independent lab to test their product. The lab findings were optimistic about the product’s effectiveness.
How to tell if the electronic water descaler is working
Here’s the tough part – let’s say you’ve installed an electronic water descaler – how are you going to know if your ~$200 investment is working?
First off, before installing the descaler, it’s important that you remove any existing scale from your pipes and fixtures and make a note of how often you usually need to clean your pipes
Once the scale – or most of it – has been removed, install the descaler and let it run. Ideally, you should see scale build up much slower than usual, and even when it does build up, it should be a lot easier to remove.
Another good indicator of how effective the descaler is to check your dishes after they’ve been washed in the dishwasher – how many white spots are left on them?
If you live in an area with very hard water, chances are there will be a lot of white spots. If the white spots become less or smaller, your electronic descaler is working.
Note: Pelican Water Softeners
Pelican is one of the leading water softener and descaler manufacturers in the United States.
It’s important to note that the electronic descaler will not clean up your existing fixtures and pipes from hard water damage, and it will only limit the amount of new scale that gets deposited.
If you live in an area with extremely hard water, even a descaler will not do the trick because household descalers are simply not strong enough to handle so many dissolved metals.
Additionally, the descaler will not completely eliminate scale. At best, it will?slow down the rate at which scale?is deposited.
So let’s say you originally cleaned up all your fixtures once every 2 months. After installing the electronic descaler, you may need to only clean up your fixtures every 6 months.
What electronic water descalers will NOT do
During the course of my research I found that many people were not happy with their electronic water descalers because:
- Their electronic water descaler did not remove iron from the water
- Additionally, if there is a lot of iron in your water, it will interfere with the action of the electromagnetic field and the descaler won’t be as effective
- Even after running the water descaler for a while, the ppm of dissolved substances of the hard water remained the same
- Fixtures that already had scale did not lose the scale
First off, water descalers will NOT remove iron, period.
If you need to remove heavy metals such as iron from your drinking water and household water, I’d suggest just sticking to a good ol’ reverse osmosis system or get a specialized iron filter.
RO filters have very, very tiny filters that are great at keeping almost everything besides the water molecule itself out of the final product. The disadvantages, of course, are that a lot of water is wasted and the water then becomes kind of tasteless and dull, as it has lost some of the taste-producing minerals too.
There are even certain all-in-one filters that have a reverse osmosis stage and a water softener stage.
Also, you need to keep in mind that the PPM will remain the same even after turning the unit on. This is because the electronic water descaler will only prevent the ions from sticking and building up.
How to get truly soft water
Finally, if these solutions don’t seem enough for you, then the only thing I can suggest is getting a proper salt based water softener. Salt-free water softeners and electric water descalers are just not as effective as the original salt water softener, simply because of the underlying chemistry.
The only way to truly remove the scale-causing chemicals from hard water is using a water softener. There are many kinds of salt-free water softeners but they don’t remove the chemicals – they only make them not stick to your pipes, and that too only to a certain extent.
Water softeners are not that expensive and in fact are quite common now, so it’s definitely worth checking out some systems. It’s worth noting that you need to install a larger system that will soften the water in your entire home rather than just one or two taps.
Unfortunately the science behind electronic water softeners is not quite as ironclad as it should be and there are only a few varied studies across the board, with little peer review and confirmation of findings.
There are so many variables in play (iron, overall hardness, existing scale on your appliances) that it becomes difficult to control variables and see which situation really gets solved by these products.
You’ll see people happy with the product, and a nearly similar number of people unhappy with the product if you search around. However, after reading through what some people had to say I’ve realized that folks who were unhappy were usually so because they expected the product to do something it was not designed to do.
The manufacturer of the Eddy Electronic water descaler, one of the most popular models on the market, actually have a very nice 12 month guarantee so it may be worth checking the product out and giving it a shot.