This is a very interesting topic.
2 to 3 times per month people ask me about how a 3M water softener compares to a salt free water softener like Pelican Water and Easy Water. This blog will provide you with reliable information that will help you with your research. We will answer the question what is hard water versus what is soft water. Next we will look at 3rd party certifications from the NSF and WQA. The NSF is the standard for testing water treatment systems that are sold to the public and there are certifications that describe performance for each type of systems. In plain English the NSF will certify a product as a water softener or not so that you will know what kind of results you can expect with different types of products. Finally, we will look at some product manuals from Pelican Water to see how they describe the results you can expect.
What is Hard Water?
Hard water is dissolved calcium and magnesium minerals that are present in Jacksonville FL water. According to the WQA (Water Quality Association) “Very Hard” water has measurement in grains per gallon of 7-10.5 GPG, while “Soft Water” has a measurement of hardness minerals measuring 0-1 GPG. Jacksonville FL Hardness measures as little as 7GPG to as high as 28 GPG! So our hardness levels are off the charts.
One observation that we can make from this classification set by the WQA is that if you buy a water softener you would expect the measurement of hardness minerals to decrease to 0-1 soft water after the installation, correct? Thinking about that question I have another question for you to consider. Why do you want a water softener to begin with, what kind of results are you looking for? Most of our customers want a solution to the white film and scale along with removing the spots that cover everything while protecting the plumbing system from hard water damage. Sound like you? Let’s keep going.
Who is the NSF?
The NSF is a public health and safety organization that tests, along with other segments, consumer products. The NSF has a vast amount of certifications for water softeners that deal with everything from material safety to accuracy of the system to produce a result. You may have seen the NSF logo listed on other materials or products.
The product testing certification that deals with water softening is NSF/ANSI 44 which states: Water softeners covered by this standard use cation exchange resin, regenerated with sodium chloride or potassium chloride, to reduce hardness (e.g. excess calcium and magnesium) from the water. These minerals are replaced with sodium or potassium ions, depending upon the type of softening pellet used.
However there is a lesser product certification that deals only with the structural integrity and safety of product under the same NSF 44 standard. So if the system has been tested and listed with the NSF as a true water softener they will list it in the owner’s manual with the full description listed above.
How are Pelican Water Softeners listed?
Pelican list two NSF certifications that shed light on what the product does and does not do. (Listed on Page 21 of the owner’s manual CLICK HERE TO VIEW)
Pelican Natursoft (Natursoft is the media inside the tank)-(product number NS3/NS6)- WQA Gold Seal tested and certified under NSF/ ANSI 61 for material safety and tested according to NSF/ANSI 42 for structural integrity only
Clack V3007-xx Bypass Fittings (only)- WQA Gold Seal Certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 44 for material safety and structural integrity only.
The only NSF certifications that Pelican lists are on the media and the bypass fittings. Note the system (PSE 1800/PSE2000) is not NSF certified as a system that removes hardness minerals and thus is not a water softener as they clearly describe on their web site.
In Their Own Words
In fact in the owner’s manual for the PSE 1800/2000 (CLICK HERE TO VIEW) on pages 14 and 15 Pelican goes on to describe the results that you will receive with your Pelican “Water Softener”. In their own words they compare Pelican results with a real water softener stating:
The Water Does Not Feel Soft. They then go one to say it doesn’t feel soft because the hardness minerals are still in your water thus acknowledging the fact that you will still have hard water.
The Water Spots are more visible. Because Pelican does not produce soft water after you install the system you will still have hard water.
Soap Curd Forms with Certain Soaps. With soft water soap scum can’t form because the hardness minerals have been fully removed. However with Pelican,the minerals are largely still able to react with the fats in the soap to form soap curd or soap scum. (Doesn’t sound like a water softener to me…)
There is some mineral silt in the bathtub. Depending on the water chemistry of your water supply, you may still have some scale deposits in your plumbing system. (Since the Pelican doesn’t remove hardness minerals and doesn’t soften water you will still have hard water scale in your plumbing system.)
If you have a dishwasher: (What? Who doesn’t have a dishwasher? Are they about to tell us you won’t notice any results in your dishwasher with the Pelican system?) Generally, the NS3/NS6 NaturSoft (Pelican Water Softener) system removes mineral hardness from solution and forms micro crystals (there is no test to prove this claim by the way); it does not physically remove the hardness minerals from the water. Harsh chemicals (Or Dishwasher Detergents), specifically acidic (low pH) detergents or rinse agents, can re-dissolve these crystals. This reduces the desired effect.
Then they go on the recommend a rinse aid called Lemi-Shine, which is a hard water rinse aid (if you have a dishwasher). So if you buy a Pelican Water Softener you will have to use a hard water rinse aid in the dishwasher to get clear spot free dishes because you will still have hard water.
Hardness minerals produce soap scum, scale and spotting/etching to glass, tile and other surfaces, as well as itchy dry skin and hair. Salt free systems do not remove hardness minerals and thus don’t produce results for these issues. If your water tested 20 grains per gallon of hardness minerals and you install a salt free system it will still test 20 grains per gallon because they are not water softeners (that’s why they do not hold any WQA NSF certifications that validate their products as such). The only way to produce a measurable result is with a water softener that removes hardness minerals. The salt free systems appeal to a consumer’s desire to not deal with the salt however they simply cannot produce the same result of a true water softener.