What You Don’t Know About Water Softener Systems

hard-water

Soap scum.  Stiff clothing.  Clogged pipes. No matter what you try, it’s hard to get your surfaces clean.  Scale builds up.  Dishes come out of the dishwasher with spots on them.  All of these problems occur because of hard water, a frustrating but fixable situation.

The term, “hard water,” refers to water with a high mineral content. The most common minerals that cause water hardness are calcium and magnesium.  As water is absorbed into the ground, the minerals are pulled from the earth and eventually end up in a household’s water supply.  Hard water can clog household plumbing.

Water hardness, or how much of a mineral is present in water, is measured in grains per gallon (GPG), parts per million (PPM), or milligrams per liter (MG/L).  Water up to 1 GPG is considered soft, water; from 1 to 3.5 GPG is considered moderate, and water 3.5 to 7 GPG is hard water. Kits used to test water hardness can be purchased at a pool supplier or from a water softener dealer.

Many water softeners plug right into the household water supply.  Ionic exchange water softeners consist of negatively charged plastic beads, a brine tank, and a regenerating system with a timer or other monitoring device.  Sodium or potassium chloride is added to the brine tank when regeneration is necessary.  Home water softeners range in price from $400 to $1,200, and the salt ranges from $5 to $7 per bag.  Price depends on type, size, and type of softening agent. Alternatively, magnetic water softeners consist of only 2 magnets attached to the outside or inside of water pipes. Find out more about the options available here.

Water softeners work by replacing ions of the minerals that cause hardness with “softer” ions.  Water is filtered through charged plastic beads and the magnesium or calcium ions are replaced with sodium or potassium ions.  In the case of magnetic water softeners, magnetic energy causes chemical changes in the minerals.

Using water softeners poses no health risks, except for those who are on sodium-restricted diets.  Keep bottled water on hand for cooking and consumption, or use potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride to soften.  Potassium chloride is more expensive than sodium chloride. There are also no health risks associated with choosing not to soften water.

Magnetic Water Softeners

magnetic-water-softenersWith the array of choices we have for softening hard water, it can be difficult to decide which method will work best. Therefore, cost is one factor to consider as well as how the unit is set up, its size and its softening capacity.

Testing water hardness is as simple as getting a water test kit from a pool supplier or an establishment that sells water softener systems. Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon (GPG), parts per million (PPM), or milligrams per liter (MG/L). Water that measures 3.5 to 7 GPG is considered hard water.

Magnetic water softeners rely on the use of ordinary magnets. The magnets are mounted opposite one another, either outside or inside a water pipe. The water flows between these magnets, through the magnetic field, which affects the ions. A chemical reaction takes place, altering the molecular structure of hard water minerals.

This reaction will take one of two forms: Magnetic or electrostatic. During a magnetic process, the collision process of magnesium or calcium ions is sped up. This takes place in a cool environment, and as a result, lessens the buildup of scale. In contrast, during an electrostatic process, an electrical charge forces the ions to repel one another. The ions are not able to bond and form scale. The main functions of magnetic water softeners are applicable in heating and cooling.

Magnetic water softeners are the subject of much debate, and magnetic water softening systems cannot usually be purchased via retailers. The effectiveness claims made by manufacturers are often backed up by anecdotal evidence, though scientific studies have been done. The outcomes are inconclusive. While it is acknowledged that magnetism does, indeed, alter the hard minerals, the exact effects on the water are unclear. The consensus is that scale formation can be reduced by magnetic treatment; however, the reduction of scale appears to be minimal, roughly 10 percent. An advantage to using a magnetic water softener is that it is a non-chemical treatment.

When it comes to magnetic water softeners, being an educated consumer is the best policy. Explore different types and manufacturers. Compare prices. Other things to consider are what type of environment the water softener will be set up in, the size, installation, and construction of the unit.

Ionic Exchange Water Softeners

ionic-exchange-water-softenersIt can be difficult to decide which method for softening hard water is best because there are a number of choices available. Cost of a water softener system – from $400 to $1,200 — can be a factor, as well as how the water softener unit is set up, its size, and how much water it will soften before requiring maintenance.

Household water can be tested using a water test kit from a pool supplier or a water softener vendor. Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon (GPG), parts per million (PPM), or milligrams per liter (MG/L). Water that measures from 3.5 to 7 GPG is considered hard water.

Ionic exchange water softeners consist of a brine tank, a filtering unit, valves to direct the flow of the water and a meter or timer to indicate when the filter needs to be recharged. Recharge cycles can be set to occur at certain times, based on water demand for the household, or it can be done manually. There are also semi-automatic systems, which let the user know when the softener needs recharging.

Ionic exchange water softeners work by replacing ions of the minerals that cause hardness, calcium and magnesium, with sodium or potassium ions. This occurs when water is filtered through negatively charged plastic beads, which have been soaked in brine. The magnesium or calcium ions are attracted to the negatively charged beads, which are flushed with brine, driving off the calcium or magnesium ions and replacing them with sodium ions. Finally, the water containing the hard ions is discarded.

Using ionic exchange water softeners poses no health risks for most people. But those who are on sodium-restricted diets should either keep bottled or non-treated, filtered water on hand for cooking and consumption or use potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride to soften their water. It should be noted that potassium chloride is more expensive than sodium chloride.

Summary

As you can hopefully see, there are a number of options for softening water in your home and if you think you need such as system then it is well worth doing your homework before committing. We recommend checking out specialist sites, such as Water Softener Authority (http://www.watersoftenerauthority.com) for up-to-date information and product reviews.

Knife Sharpening Angle Guide

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An area that many knife connoisseurs will need to be skilled in, but can rarely find good training for is knife sharpening. It goes without saying that a set of kitchen knives will eventually need to be sharpened, but many people either do not really know what to do, or if they do then they do not achieve the best outcome due to inexperience

Folks can either be confused by not understanding the proper angles at which to sharpen their knives, or they might not understand knife sharpening techniques at all. Since not everybody is familiar with how to sharpen a knife, it is important to start this knife sharpening guide by reviewing some basic knife sharpening techniques.

Knife Sharpening Techniques

There are several different knife sharpening techniques that use a variety of different tools and skill sets. Some people might prefer one knife sharpening technique for its convenience, while others might prefer another technique that gives their knives the best sharpness.

The first knife sharpening technique is to use a whetstone or a diamond stone. When using this method, it is important to establish the angle at which you want to sharpen your knife. If you don’t know which angle you should use, don’t worry about that. We’ll cover knife sharpening angles later in this guide.

Your first step should be to lubricate the whetstone with a tiny amount of honing oil. This oil makes it easy for the knife to slide across the stone and also keeps the steel shavings from clogging the stone pores. It is important to check the manufacturer’s guidelines for your particular whetstone. Although honing oil works beautifully with many types of stones, it can cause serious damage to others.

Once you’ve lined up your knife at the appropriate angle against the stone, drag it across the gritty end of the stone. Make sure that you are dragging the knife towards your body and across the thin side of the stone. Continue this process until you’ve ground roughly halfway through the steel and then flip the knife over and repeat until a new edge is formed.

When the new edge has been created, flip the stone over and grind the knife steps along the finer side of the stone in alternating swipes. This will eliminate any burrs that might have been created along the blade and create a smooth edge. When both sides are smooth and meet at an even angle to create a sharp edge, you’ve finished your task.

The second method of sharpening a knife is to use a honing rod (also known as a sharpening steel). It is important to use a honing rod intermittently between whetstone sharpenings. This will keep the knife sharp and increase the life of the blade. Honing rods remove indentations, nicks, and flat spots from the edge of a knife. Unlike a whetstone, it will not remove a significant amount of metal.

Start by holding the honing rod in your non-dominant hand. Hold the rod at a comfortable angle, pointed away from your body with the tip elevated above the handle.

Place the knife in your dominant hand, making sure that you have a firm grip on the handle with your thumb resting along the spine. Keep your fingers far from the blade’s edge.

Choose an angle at which you would like to sharpen the knife. It is important that you use this angle consistently throughout the process or the honing rod will not smooth out the metal as effectively.

sharpening

Once you’ve placed the knife at the proper angle, draw it back towards your body across the top part of the honing rod. Start the process with the honing rod pressed against the heel of the knife and end with it resting on the tip. Now, without changing your grip, place the knife against the bottom half of the rod and maintain the same angle. Draw the blade across the rod the same as before.

When both sides have been drawn across once, that is considered to be one revolution. A full cycle on the honing rod is usually anywhere between 6 and 8 revolutions.

Knife Sharpening Angle Guide

Now that we’ve established the basic knife sharpening techniques, it is important to review the angles at which a knife ought to be sharpened. Each different angle will give the knife a unique level of sharpness and durability.

One important thing to keep in mind during this whole process is that the angle you choose will be the angle that each individual side is faced away from the edge. A knife with two sides both sharpened at 20 degree angles will ultimately create a knife with a 40 degree angle.

The higher the sharpening angle, the sharper the knife will be. However, sharpness is generally achieved at the expense of the knife’s durability. The key to finding the best knife sharpening angle is to find one that strikes an ideal balance between sharpness and hardness.

Knives that are sharpened at 10 degrees or below are very sharp, but not very durable. Since they are so easily broken, they are only ideal for cutting soft materials. This kind of angle is usually seen on straight edge razors, which are sharpened to about 7 or 8 degrees.

maintain-angle

A sharpening angle between 10 and 17 degrees will still leave a knife relatively sharp. Knifes in this category are frequently used for slicing meats or cutting soft items. Their fine edge makes them too weak to do most types of kitchen work such as chopping or dicing.

The most common range of knife sharpening angles in the kitchen is between 17 and 22 degrees. This is generally considered to be the “sweet spot” of knife sharpening angles. The balance between sharpness and hardness is ideal for most jobs around the kitchen. Japanese manufacturers will often sharpen their knives to 17 degrees, while most western knives are angled at 20 degrees.

Pocket knives and hunting knives are usually sharpened between 22 and 30 degrees. These angles will provide enough sharpness to make consistently powerful cuts, but they also allow for enough durability to handle a heavier, non-kitchen workload.

Knives that are sharpened at or above 30 degrees are primarily used for heavy-duty cutting that requires large amounts of force. Axes and machetes are both sharpened to over 30 degrees to accommodate the force that is put upon the blade during the chopping motion. While they may not be razor sharp, they are very durable and can withstand heavy amounts of force.

This knife sharpening angle guide will help you figure out the knife sharpening techniques and angles at which you should prepare your knives. It is important to consult a knife sharpening guide before breaking out the whetstone or sharpening steel. Attempting to sharpen a knife without fully understand the techniques or angles can permanently damage an entire set of knives.

A New Space Heater – Some Background Research

If you are looking to purchase a space heater then it is good to know something about what you may be getting. This post has been written to provide a brief introduction to the many types of electric heaters you can buy these days.

Generally different types of space heater have been designed for different needs. However, they do boil down to a relatively few overall categories.  Essentially the most common ones that are energy efficient include portable space heaters, wall heaters, bathroom heaters and baseboard heaters. For detailed reviews and discussion of individual model strengths and weaknesses go here.

Choosing The Best Electric Space Heaters Can Help You Save You Money

Portable_space_heaterMost home heaters use electricity to generate heat and since it is readily available anywhere in the world, using electric heaters can actually save you money on your household energy bill. Moreover they don’t require much maintenance from you. Any electric heaters wall mounted ones can be your best electric heaters as some electric heaters reviews show.

Portable Space Heaters

As the name portable space heaters implies, this kind of electric heaters are usually small and portable and functions to heat up small spaces in your rooms; or if the main heating system is not performing the heating adequately. Many people found this type of heater to be one of the best electric heaters.

Bathroom Electric Wall Heaters

Bathroom electric wall heaters are commonly used in smaller rooms like your home bathroom. They are usually built-in types nicely recessed in the wall cavity between two wall studs. In some models such heaters have a fan inside the heater while others used an electric coil to work. Could this be another one of your best electric heaters?

Baseboard Electric Heaters

These energy heaters are quiet and safe and do the job of heating the room through convection which primarily is generating heat without using a fan. There is a safety thermal device that automatically turns-off the electric heater when there is overheating and reactivates later when the temperature cools.

Safety Tips for Using You Electric Heater

fireThe best safety measure you should take for your newly found efficient electric heaters to prevent any accident caused through the use of them is to ensure adequate distance between your electric heaters and any source of combustion. They are what you can find in any home – your usual furniture, paper based products or any flammable liquids.

Also never keep a portable heater in use if it close to water. There is a very real danger of fire or electrocution in such circumstances.

Never use an electric heater on an extension cord, the ratings of the heater and the cord may vary which can cause overheating and a fire risk.

All in all space heater safety is a matter of common sense. Apply this and you can easily ensure that portable electric heater remains safe to use and to serve you a lifetime for you and your family.

Understanding Household Allergens

What are common household allergens?  To adhere to the concept of allergen avoidance, you have to know what can cause an allergic response.  The major household allergens are the dust mite, pet dander, cockroaches, and mold mildew.

The optimal allergy free home environment is one that minimizes these common household allergens.

The dust mite is a microscopic creature which eats dead flaked-off skin cells.  They live in warm humid environments such as bedding, carpeting, and pillows.  Take a look around your house.  You can probably identify pretty quickly the things that are dust collectors.  It is those things that need to be cleaned (on a regular basis) or removed entirely.  Our home is decorated with simplicity in mind and with things that are easily removed for cleaning.

Pet dander is among the  common household allergens.  Pet dander from either cats or dogs can penetrate carpeting and bedding surfaces and is very difficult to remove entirely.  It is recommended that if you have a cat or dog allergy, you should consider having your pet stay outside the home.  I understand how difficult this can be.  I grew up around pets and we always had multiple animals living in our home.  I once even shared my bedroom with my cat!  If you just cannot keep your pet outside the home, then at the very least do not allow your pet into your bedroom.  Try to keep this one area of the home as allergy-free as possible.

Cockroaches are also listed among common household allergens.  The key here is to eliminate them from the home.  Make sure they don’t have a place to hide or access to food.  Since a water source is of primary importance to the cockroach, look for those places first.  Check for leaky faucets and pipes.  Some electrical appliances such as space heaters can encourage them. Be sure to eliminate food sources by sealing up food and removing garbage containers to the outside.

Also on the list of common household allergens are mold and mildew.  Some individuals have mold spore or mildew allergy.  Mold grows in damp environments.  It can be present in basements, shower stalls, humidifiers, and house plants.  A good cleaning routine can help prevent an overgrowth of mold.  A furnace humidifier or a dehumidifier can provide the correct humidity level for your home.  True also if you use other types of space heater.  For allergy relief at home reduce or remove the sources of common household allergens.

A Brief Guide To Buying A Shower Head

rain-shower-head

A good shower is always the best answer after a hard day’s work or a rigorous exercise session. And the perfect shower depends on a perfect showerhead. To find the best shower head, we’ve done a lot of research (meaning, taken a lot of showers).

But how do you find the best showerhead?

There are so many shapes and sizes available out there. To make it easier for you, here is some criteria for the whole process.

With water bills running high, one is always concerned about how showerheads can be economical. New showerheads provide very refreshing experiences despite their modest 2 gallons per minute flow rates.

No need to spend big bucks. Some top-rated showerheads literally cost a quarter of other good models. No need for fancy, multiple setting showerheads, either. Some people just like single-setting showerheads, and such models are actually very efficient.

  • Single-setting showerheads
  • Multi-setting showerheads
  • Shower towers
    • w/ fixed showerheads
    • w/ handheld showerheads
    • Both!

There are also some features you should know about. Your own taste should determine what you want.

  • Aerating showerheads – providing misty spray and cooling the water from 5 to 15 degrees F. Laminar-flow showerheads might be more expensive, but save energy by better maintaining water temperature.
  • Handheld showerheads – no explanations needed
  • Rain showers – large heads provide wide spray pattern to reduce pressure. If you like soft, soothing flows like the rain, this is the type for you.

Don’t worry about installation. Most showerheads come in simple, do-it-yourself kits. However, some more complicated models need expensive plumbers to do the job.

And if you are new to the brand names, here are some to get started:

  • Delta
    • Delta In2ition
    • Delta 9-Spray Shower Mount
  • Kohler Filpside
  • Moen Nature Three Function
  • Speakman Anystream
  • Hangsrohe Clubmaster

Where to look for showerheads?

Try browsing through Amazon, Home Depot, Overstock, Target and Bed Bath and beyond to see a variety of sets to choose from.

You may see many ads on the set, so what is “Watersense”? If you see such labels it means they use no more than 2 gpm.

Now, if you’re looking for a low flow shower head, here are some tips.

Low-flow showerheads combine water-saving technologies to both save you money and provide the best experience. See which one you prefer to adjust spray settings, such as:

  • Narrow to wide
  • Spray only,
  • Pulse
  • And so forth (especially if different family members like different types of sprays).

This was a quick and short guide to the various types of showerheads. Take your time surfing on the Net or going to the local construction store. Remember, you can have a good shower and save money.