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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all

My question is concerning the actual effects that a water softener has on well your water. We have a water softener that adds KCl to our water. What effect does this have on the gH and kH of water? How does this actually make water feel softer? Also here are some water parameters from our local water authority. Its for San Diego, Ca
ppm
CaCO3(hardness) 241
Ca 66.3
Mg 17.6
K 4
CaCO3(alkalinity) 119
HCO3 144
pH 8.4

Oh also I have read the pps report and was wondering if I should be dosing Ca and Mg? If so whats the easiest way to dose these two?
 

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What does a water softener actually do?
It replaces Ca and Mg from the water with either K or Na. It can also remove the trace amount of iron, strontium and barium. The Cl from KCl or NaCl is not added into the water.

How does this actually make water feel softer?
I guess the best place to start is why water can feel hard. Hard water has elevated levels of Ca and Mg, and these will hinders the bonds between soap and water. This makes it hard for soap to foam up. If you've had the privledge to shower in extremely hard water soap feels waxy, not slippery. And of course hard water forms those hard mineral deposites.

When Ca and Mg are removed so are the above problems.

What effect does this have on the gH and kH of water?
No effect on KH at all. KH is a measure of the buffers in the water, primarily carbonates. GH is a measure of Ca and Mg so it will drop your GH to near zero.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
wow thanks rolo. wonderfully explained reply. now do you think dosing kent gh+ would be a good idea to replenish the lost ca and mg?
 

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Save money and buy Equilibrium instead. Liquid gH+/kH+ are too diluted to make a strong impact. Otherwise, Equilibrium is perfect for rasing your gH and it also adds ~50ppm of K. Great product.
 

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Well I'd try to save money from buying any additives and look for a bypass valve on your water softener. The Ca and Mg is coming free in your water. ;)

I wonder how you get by with those extremely high K levels. If my math is right you have about 189 mg/L K flowing out your softened water.
 

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Hm... well I took some measurements with a test kit and it turns out 1 day after a water change ive come up with 12gH and 5kH. I guess my question now is does K take the place of Ca and Mg measurements in my gH and kH test kit?
 

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Nope, K doesn't get measured by GH or KH test kits.

Seems like water you are using for the tank does NOT go through the water softener. Your water report says you have 13.5 GH and 6.6 KH. This pretty much agrees with your test results.

Are you using cold water for the tank? My water softener comes right before the water heater. So only the hot water in the house is softened and the cold water line is not. This may be just like yours.

You could try this - collect some hot water and let it cool, then test the GH again. This time it should be between 0-1.

Anyway, whatever you're doing is ideal. You are retaining important Ca and Mg and not overloading the water with K.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
whew ok. one more question which may or may not be related to this but i have some hygro poly in my tank and some of the newer leaves have a crinkly look to them. i was wondering what kind of overdose/deficiency this might be caused by?
 

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Rolo said:
I wonder how you get by with those extremely high K levels. If my math is right you have about 189 mg/L K flowing out your softened water.
Rolo, how did you figure the amount of K coming from Ptahkeem's tap? I see his water supply has 4 ppm but how did you figure the rest?

I just moved to a new area and the house has a water softener. I just switched it over to K from NaCl thinking it would be better for the plants. That is a good amount of K! I'd be very interested in how to figure the amount of K from my tap.
 

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MatPat said:
Rolo, how did you figure the amount of K coming from Ptahkeem's tap? I see his water supply has 4 ppm but how did you figure the rest?

I just moved to a new area and the house has a water softener. I just switched it over to K from NaCl thinking it would be better for the plants. That is a good amount of K! I'd be very interested in how to figure the amount of K from my tap.
MattPat, at first I did a long hand calculation and got 186 mg/L. But then I found the quick, easy way. According to the Water Quality Association (WQA) 1 grain per gallon (gpg) of water hardness as CaCO3 exchanges for 13.4 mg/L K.

Ptahkeem has 241 ppm CaCO3 (hardness). 17.1 ppm = 1 gpg. So doing the math his water hardness is 14.1 in gpg. Using the above rule by the WQA...14.1 x 13.4 = 189 mg/L K.

Problem with softened water is that it removes Ca and Mg which plants need. I just bypass the softener and dose K myself, plus I don't know if 100's of ppm of potassium is ok. If I did it the otherway then I would have to dose Ca and Mg. Anyway, totally up to anyones choice.

Ptahkeem said:
whew ok. one more question which may or may not be related to this but i have some hygro poly in my tank and some of the newer leaves have a crinkly look to them. i was wondering what kind of overdose/deficiency this might be caused by?
This thread is excellent, might help you out. Much of what they discuss though is that low calcium or GH leads to this problem. Even maybe high K might block Ca uptake. This sounds just right for someone with a water softener using KCl.

On the other hand it appears your tank is not using softened water. (?) Seems suspicious to me. :???:

Every new tank I've set up with Hygro started with crinkled, curling leaves. But my water is plenty hard so I didn't think it was Ca deficiency. After a week or so I would dose K and the problems went away.

Hope that helped a little.
 

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Rolo,

If I could, I would bypass the softener. My softener is hooked up to the incoming line of the house so both hot and cold are softened. The only way I can bypass the softener is to bypass softened water to the whole house. The outside spigots are not softened, but it has been too cold to use the outside spigots lately.

I just started mixing RO with tap at a 1:1 ratio. I really have no idea if any residual K is coming from the softener and I'm still waiting on the comprehensive report from the water company.

Anyways, thanks for the calculations. I printed it and will use it to try and determine my K, if I ever get that water analysis.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hold up there. The equation terms kinda confuse me. What exactly is a grain per gallon? You also stated:

According to the Water Quality Association (WQA) 1 grain per gallon (gpg) of water hardness as CaCO3 exchanges for 13.4 mg/L K.

So what assumptions are we going on here for this equation to work? Are we assuming that the Ca and K are exchanged 100 percent at the water softener? If so that doesnt make sense because I just measured my gH and kH and they were 15 and 4 respectively. Also, is there an actual way to calculate my actual Ca ppm and Mg ppm from just knowing your gH and kH? I mean kH is a measure of CaCO3 but then gH is a measure of Ca + Mg right? So is there a way to get your total Ca ppm from knowing your kH levels and then plug that into the gH equation?

Sorry for askin so many questions Rolo but you are a huge help. THanks a bunch.
 

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No problem. I try to help if I can.
What exactly is a grain per gallon?
Grains per gallon is just another of the many ways to express water hardness. There's GH, ppm CaCO3, now gpg. I know, it's confusing at times. ;)

So what assumptions are we going on here for this equation to work? Are we assuming that the Ca and K are exchanged 100 percent at the water softener? If so that doesnt make sense because I just measured my gH and kH and they were 15 and 4 respectively.
Using that rule provided by the WQA we're assuming 100% exchange of Ca and Mg with K. But with 15 GH that is just too high to have gone through water softener, or somehow it isn't working properly. ](*,) My guess is the water you are testing must have bypassed it.

In my old house that was the case. Only the bathrooms had soft water but the outside taps and kitchen sink did not. I would measure 0-1 GH from the bathrooms but get over 20 GH from the kitchen sink.

Also, is there an actual way to calculate my actual Ca ppm and Mg ppm from just knowing your gH and kH? I mean kH is a measure of CaCO3 but then gH is a measure of Ca + Mg right? So is there a way to get your total Ca ppm from knowing your kH levels and then plug that into the gH equation?
I exactly understand your line of thought. If KH did measure CaCO3 then yes it's possible, but unfortuately KH does not. KH primarly measures HCO3-, but water reports express this as alkalinity in ppm CaCO3. I know its quite confusing...

Since GH measures both Ca and Mg, you need a test kit for one of the elements to find the other. There are several threads covering this topic in circulation.

Hope I didn't cause more confusion, lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Nope only helped clarify stuff again. Thanks a bunch Rolo. Hmm now to buy a Ca test kit hehe. I guess Ill just try to use water that doesnt go through the softener just to be sure from now on and dose my own K separately. Just to make sure though I think Ill invest in a test kit.
 
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