Seeking water treatment suggestions and recommendations

Water analysis, treatment, and mineral recipes for optimum taste and equipment health.
caeffe

#1: Post by caeffe »

I'm trying to understand and learn how best to treat my tap water without having to resort to a remineralized RO system. I'm not plumbed in and somewhat prefer not plumbing for portability but will consider plumbing.

Water report summary and quality are as follows which compared to the SCAA readings are some ways off from the "target". Full report - https://irwd.com/index.php/services/wat ... ity-report My guess is my actual Calcium Hardness leans higher than the 135 and closer to the 439 number. I tried to test using an API GH/KH tester - stopped after putting in more than 14 drops in the 5ml tube and the color still did not change to green.
Name range (avg treated ground water)
TDS 116-606 (261)
Calcium Hardness 7.6-439 (135)
Total Alkalinkity 60-228 (156)
Sodium 23-121 (61)
pH 7.2-8.7 (8.1)
hardness, grains/gal 0.4-26 7.9
chloride, ppm 13-101 26

I'm looking for suggestions on getting water that will eliminate or minimize having to descale and get to the SCAA "target". At one time I partially disassembled my NS Oscar (the Grouch) after discovering that the inlet to the boiler from the pump was almost completely scaled over (long story of discovery).

I have a standard line/valve which feeds my refrigerator/ice maker. Its on a wall which separates the refrigerator and the area where my espresso machine is situated. Is there any reason that I can't add a Softener and Filter system similar to https://clivecoffee.com/products/water- ... ion-system and https://www.chriscoffee.com/collections ... n-systemto and split the filtered outlet to my coffee station (most likely with a faucet used to fill the tank, maybe plumbed in later) and to the refrigerator? Or even just fill a jug with water from refrigerator filtered water (uses an LG LT700P filter) for my coffee and beverage station?
I'm thinking possibly using a higher capacity system as a whole house filtration system - reducing scale / softening water would be nice since the scale that I see in my bathroom fittings and in my gooseneck kettle seems to be plenty. .
Perhaps something similar to what apple2k posted /water/nuvo ... ml#p797857: a whole house filter/softener with a more localized filter system (like the Clive or Chris Coffee systems) to get to lower/minimal hardness and chlorides? I saw this and others like it https://www.homedepot.com/p/Rheem-Prefe ... /314448288 - what's the difference between the Nuvo H20 and the Rheem system?
Or will a Nuvo H20 system (or something similar) with filtered water from a Brita filter get me to the SCAA "acceptable" range?

Thanks in advance for the suggestions and lessons.
LMWDP #162

User avatar
homeburrero
Team HB

#2: Post by homeburrero »

That's an excellent water report, and it does indicate a wide range of values. The conductivity numbers (379 - 968 umho/cm) indicate that you might see somewhere between 190 ppm and 490 ppm on a typical inexpensive TDS conductivity meter. That might be one way of guessing whether yout water is harder or softer than the reported average. It may change over time as the utility shifts between the three different sources or may be different depending on your location. A call to the water utility might help with that.

But irrespective, your water does have borderline high chloride, and would be very scale prone if not softened. The very cautious approach might be to use RO and remineralization, but I think you would be fine with conventional softening*.

caeffe wrote:Is there any reason that I can't add a Softener and Filter system similar to https://clivecoffee.com/products/water- ... ion-system and https://www.chriscoffee.com/collections ... ion-system and split the filtered outlet to my coffee station (most likely with a faucet used to fill the tank, maybe plumbed in later) and to the refrigerator? Or even just fill a jug with water from refrigerator filtered water (uses an LG LT700P filter) for my coffee and beverage station?
The two softeners you linked are conventional softeners and I think would be a good choice in this situation.

caeffe wrote:Perhaps something similar to what apple2k posted /water/nuvo ... ml#p797857: a whole house filter/softener with a more localized filter system (like the Clive or Chris Coffee systems) to get to lower/minimal hardness and chlorides? I saw this and others like it https://www.homedepot.com/p/Rheem-Prefe ... /314448288 - what's the difference between the Nuvo H20 and the Rheem system?
That Nuvo device is an 'saltless' approach to softening that uses citric acid. I'd want to see performance specs before recommending something like that and I don't find that on their site. The Rheem is a nice conventional rechargeable softener that recharges with either sodium or potassium salts.**




* Conventional softening here refers to the familiar strong acid cation softener, where hardness ions (calcium and/or magnesium) are replaced by sodium ions (or in some cases by potassium ions. These have been in use for decades as whole house softeners as well as point-of-use softeners for espresso equipment. The main alternative is a weak acid cation (WAC) softener, or decarbonizing softener that exchanges hydrogen ions for the calcium and magnesium. These softeners reduce alkalinity as well as hardness, may acidify the water, and may not be ideal when the alkalinity is low and/or you have significant chloride ion in the water. These typically have adjustable heads to allow some water to bypass the decarbonizing resin. The BWT Bestmax and the Everpure Claris are examples. See /downloads/ ... pdated.pdf for more about that.


**[Edited addition] That Rheem, like any rechargeable softener will release sodium chloride or potassium chloride salts to the sewer system when it recharges. Your water utility advises against these because it treats and recycles that sewer water for non-drinking water use. Their advice:
"If you desire soft water in your home, we encourage you to subscribe to a water softener service that picks up and exchanges the cylinder so the salt does not go down the drain. You'll find several water softening services listed in the Yellow Pages. We do not make recommendations on softening services. Additionally, hooking up a water softener only to the hot water lines will save the customer money."
Of course the cartridge softeners you are looking at are replaced rather than recharged, so no issue with salts going into the sewer system if you use either of these.
Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

Urnex: 100% dedicated focus on coffee and tea cleaning
Sponsored by Urnex
DblEspresso

#3: Post by DblEspresso »

I just bought my first espresso machine, and I am having trouble understanding about what exactly makes water less susceptible to creating scale. Can you guys help me out?

On our monthly water report, here are some of the key values:

pH 8.5 to 8.7
Alkalinity 26 to 28 mg/L
Chloride 15 to 17 mg/L
Total Hardness 49 to 56 mg/L
Ca Hardness 40 to 47 mg/L
Magnesium 2 mg/L
Calcium 16 to mg/L

Are there other key variables I should be looking at? Is this safe water to use in my machine? I would post the water report, but I can't figure out how to add this screenshot to this post.

User avatar
homeburrero
Team HB

#4: Post by homeburrero »

DblEspresso wrote:I just bought my first espresso machine, and I am having trouble understanding about what exactly makes water less susceptible to creating scale.
Limescale is calcium carbonate, and it will accumulate in proportion to the concentration of calcium (per calcium hardness measure) and bicarbonate (per alkalinity measure) in the water. Your water has low bicarbonate (less than 28 mg/L CaCO3 equivalent) and low calcium (less than 47 mg/L) and is not scale-prone - probably never will require descaling)

The best reference for understanding all this was written many years ago -- Jim Schulman's Insanely Long Water FAQ

P.S.
Note that your report says 16 mg/L calcium and 40 mg/L calcium hardness. The first one is quantified as the mass of the calcium ion, and the second as mg/L CaCO3 equivalents, so they are consistent.

You generally want chloride to be as low as possible, so your chloride ion numbers are not ideal. And chloride (which is different than chlorine) is not removed by simple charcoal filters. But I think you can live with that. La Marzocco often recommends that it be kept below 30 mg/L. Synesso is very conservative about chloride, recommending it be below 15 mg/L. Chloride can be a corrosion concern, but given your pH and alklalinity numbers you should be OK.

You can use a sediment filter and plain charcoal or carbon block filter with this water to take care of chlorine, off-tastes, and odors. Your refrigerator filter would probably work, and if you use a pitcher filter you'd be best off with the newish Brita Longlast (it has no resins that might reduce your alkalinity, which you want to keep with this water.)
Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

DblEspresso

#5: Post by DblEspresso »

Thank you that is SUPER helpful. I really appreciate you taking the time to explain. I'll definitely pick up a Brita longlast, sounds like the way to go.

caeffe (original poster)

#6: Post by caeffe (original poster) »

homeburrero wrote:....

* Conventional softening here refers to the familiar strong acid cation softener, where hardness ions (calcium and/or magnesium) are replaced by sodium ions (or in some cases by potassium ions. These have been in use for decades as whole house softeners as well as point-of-use softeners for espresso equipment. The main alternative is a weak acid cation (WAC) softener, or decarbonizing softener that exchanges hydrogen ions for the calcium and magnesium. These softeners reduce alkalinity as well as hardness, may acidify the water, and may not be ideal when the alkalinity is low and/or you have significant chloride ion in the water. These typically have adjustable heads to allow some water to bypass the decarbonizing resin. The BWT Bestmax and the Everpure Claris are examples. See /downloads/ ... pdated.pdf for more about that.


**[Edited addition] That Rheem, like any rechargeable softener will release sodium chloride or potassium chloride salts to the sewer system when it recharges. Your water utility advises against these because it treats and recycles that sewer water for non-drinking water use. Their advice: Of course the cartridge softeners you are looking at are replaced rather than recharged, so no issue with salts going into the sewer system if you use either of these.
Pat, Thanks for the feedback. Your sharing of knowledge is appreciated!
I did note that they frown on us to use a non-salt type softener, hence my interest in the citric acid type softener. Without looking at the Rheem type softener installation details i'm guessing it needs to be connected to a drain somewhere in order to "recharge" the system? If I use the citric acid type does it then make my water more corrosive due to the drop in PH or is the corrosion risk mostly due to the Chlorides and reducing the chloride is better bang for buck?

Is the Bestmax or the Everpure Claris system then a "replacement" cartridge type that doesn't discharge or drain water to recharge? It seems similar to the ones that Chris Coffee (which now seems to have a "404 error") or Clive Coffee offers. My recollection is that the Chris Coffee one had a standard housing so that I can use any std cartridge in it, softener or charcoal type. Can they be used to soften water for the whole house with more frequent changes? Can I possibly use a higher capacity one for the whole house to reduce (but not eliminate scale) then use another one in series at point of use to further reduce my scaling and optimize water for coffee or drinking?

Apologies for the follow-up questions but my Chemistry knowledge is weak.
LMWDP #162

User avatar
homeburrero
Team HB

#7: Post by homeburrero »

caeffe wrote:Without looking at the Rheem type softener installation details i'm guessing it needs to be connected to a drain somewhere in order to "recharge" the system?
Yes - it requires a drain line. You program it to automatically recharge at a given time. like 2 AM, then every few days (depending on flow and hardness) it does a recharge at that time, during which the house gets unsoftened tap water while very salty water is run through the resin bed and released down the drain.


caeffe wrote:If I use the citric acid type does it then make my water more corrosive due to the drop in PH or is the corrosion risk mostly due to the Chlorides and reducing the chloride is better bang for buck?
It's not very well defined in the product literature, but any method based on citric acid chelation is going to reduce hardness, reduce alkalinity and raise acidity. It will increase corrosion risk. As far as reducing chloride, the only practical way is RO, with a blending valve or a remin cartridge, and if you do that you have solved any hardness issues. If you really want to try whole house a salt free softening situation I think you may be better off with a template assisted crystallization approach, but even that might be iffy as to how well it prevents scale in the espresso machine.

caeffe wrote:Is the Bestmax or the Everpure Claris system then a "replacement" cartridge type that doesn't discharge or drain water to recharge? It seems similar to the ones that Chris Coffee (which now seems to have a "404 error") or Clive Coffee offers. My recollection is that the Chris Coffee one had a standard housing so that I can use any std cartridge in it, softener or charcoal type. Can they be used to soften water for the whole house with more frequent changes? Can I possibly use a higher capacity one for the whole house to reduce (but not eliminate scale) then use another one in series at point of use to further reduce my scaling and optimize water for coffee or drinking?
All of these undersink cartridge systems are non-rechargeable and don't have a drain line, so would be fine by your water utility recommendation. The CCS one (link here: https://www.chriscoffee.com/products/wa ... ion-system ) does use generic 10" filter housings, so you can shop around for filters.

The Bestmax and the Claris are WAC filters that reduce alkalinity and can acidify your water, but the Homeland and CCS softeners are conventional softeners that keep the alkalinity and don't acidify, which would make them a better choice in many situations where corrosivity is a concern.

These cartridges are relatively low capacity and would not be economical for whole house use. At your ~8 gpg hardness, that 850 grain 10" softener from CCS would exhaust in a little over 100 gallons. For whole house replaceable (not recharged at home) softeners you might try the advice from your water utility and shop around for local providers. Others on this forum may have some advice about that (I'm not at all familiar with whole house water treatment options.)



* There is one underisink rechargeable softener that is popular with coffee people, the Ascaso DVA manual rechargeable softener. It has a valve and line that needs to flow out to a drain during the manual recharging process.
Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

Weber Workshops: tools for building better coffee
Sponsored by Weber Workshops
mythwyth

#8: Post by mythwyth »

Can I jump in on the water quality analysis? I've got a new machine coming that I want to do everything I can to treat properly for long use. I haven't been too worried about my water before because it's more soft than hard and not prone to scale on any of our faucets. But diving down the water chemistry rabbit hole, I'm a little concerned about my chloride levels.

From our 2020 municipal water report (link: https://www.townofpaxton.net/sites/g/fi ... paxton.pdf)

Alkalinity (ppm): 8.5 - 34.6
Calcium (ppm): 1.1 - 17.9
Chloride (ppm): 29-49
Hardness (ppm): 21-34
pH: 7.00-8.40
Sodium (ppm): 15.0 (maximum level detected)
*edit to add:
Conductivity (umhos/cm): 134-270



Is there anything I should consider doing to protect my machine from corrosion or scale? I do have a couple test kits coming so I can hopefully narrow down where on those ranges my actual tap water sits, but I didn't splurge on the expensive ones, so mostly dip sticks which may not give super granular data.

Any input/suggestions and education very much appreciated!!

User avatar
CoffeeMac

#9: Post by CoffeeMac »

I've got a very similar water report (https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/files/as ... 016-r7.pdf) except for the chloride. For my soon-to-arrive new machine I got an Everpure MH2 filter primarily for sediment that might be in my local plumbing (https://assets.freshwatersystems.com/im ... ng2zuf.pdf).

Based on what I've read, RO (or bottled water) may be the best/only solution for removing chloride. Ion exchange filters (like Everpure Claris) can remove it, but may result in making the water too acidic and cause corrosion in the machine.

That said, what recommendation does the manufacturer of your new machine make?

mythwyth

#10: Post by mythwyth »

Yeah, if I had your chloride levels I wouldn't be concerned at all! Filter out the small particles and call it a day :lol:

I'm getting a Lelit Bianca. I couldn't find specific water parameter recommendations from the manufacturer other than "avoid hard water". They do include an in-tank water softener, but my water seems to already be plenty soft.

I know Pat (homeburrero) has chimed in on other situations of high chloride and between readings around 30-40 has said you might be ok depending on the alkalinity to not go full RO. I don't know what the trigger level is where universally it's agreed that the treatment of choice is RO. La marzocco says stay below 30, Synesso says below 15.

I'm not plumbing in, so If I decide to go the RO route I was looking at the ZeroWater pitchers (although I'm unclear on if they reliably filler out chloride, so don't know if this is a viable option for me - It was late last night when I got this far into the water rabbit hole so I need to go back and read a few more threads) or an osmio counter top RO unit that DaveC likes. And then either tww or rpavlis remineralization. Or potentially just adding back some of my tap water; diluted it might be a decent option.

I feel like I understand just enough to recognize the potential problem, but not enough to confidently decide on a course of action.