Do inline water softeners work?
February 25, 2006 7:35 PM   Subscribe

Do compact inline water softeners like this work?

In Washington, DC the water is really hard. Leaves stains on tile. Dries out your skin. Tastes terrible.

I live in a small place that can't really affrord the space a tank water softener that requires salt would take up. Somebody mentioned the inline, magnetic water softeners, which I bought one of.

It wound up being a pretty shoddy piece of equipment. Essentially just a box that runs a small eletric current through some small wires that you wrap around your water pipe. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, or it's a piece of crap, or the whole theory is bunk, but it doesn't work.

Has anybody had any luck getting these to work? Or, does anybody know if the theory makes sense? That magnetism pulls the hard water particles together and they settle out of solution.
posted by destro to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
Best answer: I dunno. Sure smells like a scam to me. Two big magnets around a water pipe makes the water "behave like soft water"? Nope. Ain't possible. Sorry.

The only "particles" that a magnet could possible pull from water is iron. And I don't think iron in solution behaves that way. And ask yourself...where do these particles settle out of solution? I don't see any sort of tank or collection apparatus. Unless they mean the particles would settle in the pipe at the point where the magnets are connected. So, if the thing actually did work, you would soon have a major blockage in the pipe.
Anyway, iron is actually a minor culprit in hard water. Calcium and lime have a larger role in making water "hard". Those two aren't even remotely affected by magnets.
AFAIK, the only sure way to get whole-house softened water is to go the tank route.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:55 PM on February 25, 2006

Total scam. Won't work. Repeat after me: magnets are not magical. :)

You can get inline filters for your shower that work pretty well, and of course you can get sink filters for your kitchen and drinking water. I'd definitely go that way. Magnets aren't going to do a damn thing.
posted by Malor at 8:00 PM on February 25, 2006

about as well as copper bracelets work for curing arthritis
posted by caddis at 8:52 PM on February 25, 2006

not a total scam. sometimes they work.
posted by hortense at 9:07 PM on February 25, 2006

I recall talking to a chemical engineer friend about this very thing, and his response was "absolute, 100 percent scam."
posted by frogan at 9:10 PM on February 25, 2006

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