Removing Chlorine With a Water Softener
Can I Remove Chlorine With a Water Softener?
Yes! But like many things, there is a right way and a wrong way to accomplish this. All over the internet and in many local stores you will find water softener vendors offering softeners that will remove chlorine. More often than not, these systems have been built as a regular softener with some quantity of granular activated carbon (GAC) added to the softener resin bed. The GAC mixes with the resin and will remove chlorine from the water that passes through for some period of time. The difficulty with these systems is that the GAC usually stops removing chlorine after 2 or 3 years but the water softener resin is good for 8 - 10 years and it is impossible to remove only the GAC from the softener because it has mixed with the resin. So, if you want to refresh the GAC you end up removing both the GAC and the resin and replacing both - this is very costly and very inefficient.
There is another much more effective and efficient way to use a softener as a whole home chlorine removal system. This system uses a very powerful chlorine removing media called KDF-55. KDF-55 is a granular media that will remove much more chlorine than the same amount of granular activated carbon (GAC). When used in a softener, the KDF-55 media is first placed in a media guard. The media guard is a slotted basket that is attached to the bottom of the water softener valve. When water first enters the softening tank it passes through this basket where the KDF-55 media removes all chlorine. The water then pushes down through the softening resin where the hardness minerals are removed.
Is Chlorine Free Water Better For The Softener?
Absolutely. Water softening resin is made of a special plastic. All plastics are negatively affected by chlorine. Water softener resin that is exposed to chlorinated water usually lasts about 10 years. Water softener resin that is used on de-chlorinated water will usually last at least 15 years. Because the water entering the softener is first passed through the KDF-55 media, the softener resin is protected and will last at least five years longer.
Why Is There Chlorine In My Water?
The vast majority of cities in North America and the rest of the developed world add chlorine to their drinking water systems. Why do they do this? Well, all natural water supplies such as lakes, rivers, and groundwater have the potential to be contaminated with bacteria. Bacteria are dangerous to consume and cities go to great lengths to ensure the water they extract from the environment is free from these dangerous microorganisms. Drinking water treatment plants use a variety of water disinfection technologies to kill any of the bacteria that may exist in the water they use. But once this water has been disinfected at the treatment plant, it must travel through hundreds of miles of pipe before it reaches our homes. Often, these pipes are decades, or in some cases, more than a hundred years old. Pipes may be cracked, leaky, or otherwise contaminated. In order to make sure that drinking water is not contaminated between the treatment plant and your home, cities need to add a chemical that will travel with the water to make sure it is not contaminated en route to your home - the most popular choice is chlorine.
Chlorine naturally occurs as a gas. When used for the disinfection of water, it is usually used as sodium hypochlorite, more commonly referred to as "bleach". Sodium hypochlorite slowly releases chlorine into the water making it an ideal chemical to protect water from bacterial contamination as it travels through water distribution systems. The chlorine that is released is a powerful oxidizer that attacks the tissues of bacteria and other organisms ultimately killing them.
Is Chlorine Dangerous?
It has been recognized for decades that the consumption of chlorine by humans is not desirable, and in some cases has been shown to be downright dangerous. Several cancers including bladder cancer have been shown to be directly related to the consumption of chlorine and chlorine byproducts. Due to chlorine's aggressive oxidizing nature, it is hard on skin, hair, and eyes as anybody who swims in a chlorinated pool can attest to. There are in increasing number of homeowners who understand the risks of chlorine and desire to remove it from their home's water supply.