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Soft Water Systems
When softening water you’re basically removing the calcium and magnesium out of your brewing water. Water softener’s work by what is called ion exchange. This exchange takes place when the water is run over the resin bed that is charged with sodium chloride.
When it comes to the salt there are 2 types you can use in your system. You can backwash it with a sodium brine or a potassium brine. They both work the same way. The big difference between the 2 is you can water your plants with the softened water if you use the potassium, the drawback with potassium is the cost. Both will exchange the hardness ions for sodium chloride ions or potassium chloride ions. Reverse osmosis systems, used with a water softener, do a great job of removing the sodium chloride or potassium chloride from the water. Nano filtration systems will let that salt by product pass-through to your brewing water.
Brewing using a reverse osmosis system, with a blending valve, you should not use soft water. The purpose of a blending valve is to add back in calcium and magnesium to your brewing water. Coupled with an Anti-scaling system you have the perfect low-cost alternative to a soft water system with salt. Water softener’s are excellent for your hot water supply or boiler system. By softening your hot water only this will cover you dishwashers and water heaters, and the hot water in your tasting room. One thing you have to look out for when it comes to water softener’s, is if your city allows them. Some cities have passed laws that limit the salt brine from going into the sewer system.
With reverse osmosis systems you want to prevent the scaling up of your membranes. When your membranes scale up you lose production flow rates and you can overload your pump. There are 2 ways to prevent scaling on your reverse osmosis system. (1) Is soft water or water softener and (2) is an anti-scaling system.
If you have a commercial reverse osmosis system, anti-scaling systems are the most economical systems to use. Anti-scaling systems do require periodic maintenance. This includes making sure your anti-scaling tank is full. Your anti-scale solution comes in a concentrated 5 gallon container. Your tank is mixed with water to dilute the concentration. Antiscalant is injected into the feed water before the pump and before the water enters the RO membranes. Its presence delays the reaction between calcium magnesium and bicarbonate. This results in scale not forming as the water is being purified by the RO. Also by using an anti-scaling system you can pull more purified water from your feedwater. The anti-scaling will not pass-through the semi permeable membrane and into your brew water. On most systems a 5 gallon container, of food quality antiscalant, will last about a year. Of course it depends on how big your system is.