The best advice on softeners

Water passes through limestone and chalk picking up calcium and magnesium deposits along the way. The supplier can not remove these deposits safely at a sensible cost while treating it so hard water is sent to your taps. (if you don't know why hard water is bad click here). The practical difference between a water softener and conditioner is small. We talk about both on this page.

Products types, Not recommended

Sodium
For the last 30 years the most common way to soften water has been to add sodium (salt). Although deemed safe for the home the UK water regulations advise against drinking it, and state that a separate tap should be installed for drinking water, as high levels of sodium are bad for health. Some people also recommend to have a non-softened tap in the garden and not to use softened water for house plants as the sodium (salt) is bad for the soil and can kill your houseplants. Also in the softening process high levels of chlorine are sent back to the water treatment plants which in the long run damages the water supply sent back to your taps.

Magnetic, and Sonic frequencies
Magnetic, and Sonic frequency technologies have not yet been proven to be that effective.

Reverse Osmosis
Filtering all the water using reverse osmosis in your home is an incredibly expensive way to soften water. You can do it if you like but we really don’t recommend it.
You may want a whole house filtration system for your home but the driving reason for this should not be to soften your water and the system would not be based reverse osmosis in any case.

Whole house filtration
Although whole house filtration is great for your water and your children's bath time it will only remove 50% of the limescale so if you are in a hard water area we would still recommend installing a softener in addition to whole house filtration.

Powder and Granule Polyphosphates
These are available but most models are not recommended as their release mechanisms are unreliable wasting large quantaties of polyphophastes or releasing too little to soften the water.
 
Recommended domestic products types

Liquid Polyphosphates
Liquid water softeners use polyphosphates, a safe additive for use in drinking water and food. Polyphosphates becomes less stable after 60ºC. The polyphosphate system is workable in a hot water system but the temperature needs to be considered. Stored hot water should be heated to 60ºC periodically to combat legionnaires disease, in this case controls may need to be upgraded on your heating system if your thermostats are old and unreliable. For modern combi boilers and most modern systems there is no problem as the water is only heated above 60ºC for a short period of time. See from the table below for how temperature effects parts per million (ppm) of polyphosphates. To be effective the polyphosphates needs to be at a minimum of 1.9 ppm.

Polyphosphate degradation table
Taking the above into account if you kept boiling your kettle without emptying all of the water out then you would start to see signs of lime scale due to a reduction in the polyphosphates. To avoid this simply make sure you empty your kettle at least once a day.
There are some claims that polyphosphates has lead to corrosion but scientific evidence to back this up is small, not official, not alarming and far less severe than the problems and financial costs of hard water. The polyphosphates water softener we install is approved by the Water Regulation Advisory Scheme (WRAS).
Polyphosphates is a food grade non-organic compound and deemed 100% safe for human consumption by the E.U. Our best guess is that non-organic lettuce treated with pesticides would be more harmful to you and your family than polyphosphates. If you do want to be extra safe, have us install a water purifier at the same time and we’ll give you 20% off the softener.
A minimum flow rate is needed for this product, which most U.K homes will meet using the smallest 15mm model.

A refill costs £30 and using the average of 150 litres a day for one person, it will last 290 days. If you live in a newer property (which are designed to be more water efficient) or are conscious of your water use and take showers instead of baths we estimate one pouch could last over a year. You can visually see when the refill is needed. The manufacture seems to be going from strength to strength so we see no reason why finding refills for years to come would be a problem.

If you have fairly modern way of controlling the hot water storage temperature or if you have a combi boiler then this system works fine. You need to be aware not to over heat the water for prolonged periods. For larger households the Zinc sacrificial anode is financially beneficial.
Click here to view specific product details and to book install.

Zinc Sacrificial Anodes (ZSA)
Zinc sacrificial anodes, release zinc ions which reacts with elements in the hard water to create aragonite. Aragonite is a natural occuring mineral and in larger quantities it helps neutralise the pH level of water so it is totally safe for consumption. As the anode is made from Zinc you might find extra traces of this in your water, most people would agree that this a good thing, unless you are a Koi Carp who are incredibly sensitive to zinc. Like TAC (see below) the beneficial minerals are left in the water and do not have a negative effect on your home or body. If you do want to be extra safe and have us install a water purifier at the same time we’ll give you 20% off the purifier.
You might get a very reduced soft scale residue around bath taps and inside your kettle. This simply needs one quick rinse or wipe. It will not damage, stain or stick to your appliances, skin or hair as hard water does. The Zinc sacrificial anode is effective up to 99ºC.
The zinc sacrificial anode that we install lasts for seven years and does not need any maintenance or filling. It also comes with a five guarantee.
Retail starts around £390 incl VAT. for the smallest model.
It is our preferred choice for non-fill systems. Although TAC is a great technology the zinc sacrificial anode simply outweighs it in price on a domestic system.
Click here to view specific product details and to book install.

Recommended commercial products types

Liquid Polyphosphates
Click here to go view specific product details and to book install.

Zinc Sacrificial Anodes (ZSA)
Click here to go view specific product details and to book install.

Calcium Treatment Units (CTUs)
For commercial purposes these systems remove more than just limescale but not enough to be a quality water purifier. They also allow set amounts of untreated water through to suit specific equipment. If used for drinking water you may want to add an alkaline remineraliser. You should also install a water meter to monitor usage.
Contact us for further details and we will size your units and make recomendations.  

Template Assisted Crystallisation (TAC)
Template Assisted Crystallisation was originally developed for commercial use and is now available domestically.  TAC is a physical process that works on the molecular level. It consists of water flowing through a fluid bed of millions of tiny beads and is based on a patented technology. The hard minerals in the water turn into ‘soft scale micro crystals’ and become harmless and are unable to create limescale for a number of hours. In some cases they have been proven to break down existing scale in pipes.
TAC continues to work at a higher temperature level than polyphosphates. It uses no chemicals or electricity, the units are slightly larger than Polyphostate and Zinc sacrificial anodes but still smaller than a salt based water softener. You will need to replace the tank every three years. The smallest tank Retails at £795 incl VAT
Contact us for further details and we will size your units and make recomendations.

Notes on installation


Both of the polyphosphates and the zinc sacrificial anode systems are small and we should be able to install them close to the service valve to treat your whole house without altering your property or running new pipe.

If for any reason you would like us to add a bypass we can do this for a small additional charge. Along with servicing your stopcock (stop valve), adding a pressure reducing valve which allows you to monitor and set your water pressure or a water meter so that you can monitor your water usage
Click here for additional services

For most households the install of water softener will be complete within three hours. We will also record your standing pressure, take your flow rates, conduct a hardness test and leave you a free hardness test kit so you can check it's working. See 'Booking & Install' for more details.

A water softener from Vibrant Water will look after your hair and skin while making your appliances and pipework last longer, work better and cost less to run. You will also see a reduction in cleaning time and products.

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We aim to answer all enquiries within 24 hours.

Vibrant Water
Cornelius House, 178-180 Church Road
Hove, BN3 2DJ

T: 01273 569059