Conditioners replace water softeners

Physical water conditioners are devices that prevent the build-up of hard limescale in a non-chemical manner. They achieve this by influencing the dissolved minerals, calcium and magnesium in a way that prevents them from forming scale (calcium carbonate) in your water pipes, heaters, and appliances. Physical water conditioners work in your water with varying degrees of success, based on many factors including water flow, hardness, operating temperatures, and water chemistry. The following information presents a sense of available water-treatment technologies and their advantages, as well as their shortcomings.

Magnets and Electromagnets — These were the first physical water conditioners that appeared after the discovery that water flowing over magnetic rock did not build up scale. These can appear in the form of permanent magnets or electromagnets. The drawback here is that water must be moving for the magnets to be effective — essentially requiring that your water is flowing constantly. This is never the case in residential use. More importantly, there is no reliable scientific evidence to prove that the claimed benefits are actually produced.

Wire-Wrapped Coils — There are numerous manufacturers of the wire-wrapped electromagnetic technology, which is based on wrapping one or two coils around your water pipe. These coils produce a low-frequency magnetic field. In general, coils are only effective on water as it moves through the coils; as a result, when water is not flowing, Mother Nature returns it to its resting state — a condition that allows limescale to build up in your water system.

Media-Based Systems — These prevent scale by converting dissolved minerals into microscopic crystal particles. In this stable form, calcium and magnesium do not attach to pipes and appliances. This technology requires significant altering of your plumbing and ongoing media replacement. Media-based systems are very limited in their ability to deal with very hard water, such as we have here in the Santa Fe area.

High-Frequency Induced-Signal Technology — This works by inducing a high-frequency wave signal into the water column of the plumbing system. The resulting signal causes the positive and negative mineral ions to cluster and form microscopic suspended crystals when they sense a temperature or pressure change, rather than forming scale. This signal (unlike magnetic technologies) prevents scale whether the water is moving or not. This patented technology produces a signal 25,000 times stronger than wire-wrap technologies and also effectively kills bacteria, making it ideal for use on private wells.

Given the need for us to live in ways that protect and honor our endangered environment, physical water conditioning has a definite place in our buildings. Unfortunately, inconsistent technologies have discouraged people. Doing your homework can lead you to a positive and environmentally responsible experience. When you go to various websites to do your research, make sure you look beyond the hype for evidence of documented technology and longstanding success in residential and commercial markets.

Audrey Jenkins has 20-plus years of experience in the water treatment field, focusing on leading-edge technologies that support health and the environment. Her company, New Water Innovations (1512 Pacheco Street, Santa Fe), is the exclusive New Mexico distributor for HydroFLOW, a patented high-frequency, induced-signal, scale-prevention technology. Contact her at or call (505)216-0880.

Published on Sunday, September 6, 2015 in the Santa Fe New Mexican

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