ScaleStop – Template Assisted Crystallization – A Softening Alternative

There are several new water conditioning systems on the market designed to deal with the age-old problem of scale formation in pipes and appliances without the disadvantages (salt usage, environmental degradation, etc.) associated with the conventional water softener.

Many earlier alternative “softening” systems relied on magnets and a variety of electrical devices to send waves and pulses through pipes in an attempt to rearrange the molecular structure of the water’s hardness (calcium & magnesium) ions.

The newest in alternative softening devices work differently. Like the conventional water softener, they use a treatment medium contained in a standard mineral tank. Water is passed through the granular medium inside the tank and treated.

Unlike the softener, however, they do not need to be regenerated with salt and they do not need to connected to a drain. They require no sophisticated electronic control system. They are, therefore, much easier to install and set up. No maintenance, electricity, or salt is needed.

They do not remove calcium and magnesium ions from water (as softeners do) but, rather, they change these hardness minerals from their ionic form to a harmless crystalline form. In this very stable form, calcium and magnesium do not attach to pipes, appliances, and fixture surfaces. The crystals are so small, in fact, that they are readily rinsed away by the normal flow of water. This technology is often referred to as “template assisted crystallization,” or simply TAC.

“TAC employs a special surface-treated resin bead to act as a catalytic nucleation site for the conversion and growth of hardness crystals, which are subsequently released and remain in solution without forming scale.” Once the crystals grow to a certain size they are released from the bead. The crystals in solution keep the hardness out of the water so that it can’t form scale or interfere with soap.”

The delivery system used with ScaleStop is much simpler than that of conventional water softeners. Although only a small amount of ScaleStop is needed, it is used in a full-sized mineral tank—the same tank used for softeners and large filters—to assure adequate contact time.

Unlike softeners, ScaleStop units have no connection to drain and no electrical connection is needed. No regeneration of the medium is required.

Here are some things to consider about ScaleStop:

  • ScaleStop needs less contact time than softener resin, so smaller treatment tanks can be use per service flow.
  • No salt, chemicals or other regenerants are required.
  • No backwashing, so no connection to drain or water use.
  • Commercial grade ScaleStop units are made by simply adding more of the treatment medium to the contact tank.
  • No brine discharge. (ScaleStop units can be used in areas where conventional water softeners are banned or regulated.)
  • Granular ScaleStop has a long lifespan—usually about 5 years on residential applications.
  • Life expectancy of the unit itself (exclusive of the medium) is many, many years. The mineral tank is guaranteed for 10 years, and the unit has no moving parts.
  • Cartridge applications are available for treatment for specific applications (like protecting instant hot water heaters).
  • An important difference between ScaleStop and softeners is that ScaleStop actually removes existing scale from pipes and appliances. Softeners prevent new scaling, but do not remove existing scale buildup.
  • ScaleStop does not remove chlorine but it is somewhat chlorine tolerant. However, American WaterFactory incorporates a large carbon block inside the filter to remove chlorine and chloramines before it reaches the ScaleStop.
  • Unlike softeners, ScaleStop units do not add sodium to water.
  • Maximum hardness treated by standard residential system is 25 grains. Commercial units are available for harder water or extended service runs, or residential systems can be oversized to compensate for added hardness.
  • ScaleStop units require no cleaning or chemical conditioning agents.
  • ScaleStop requires essentially clean influent water. Iron, manganese and excessive sediment (if any) should be treated ahead of the unit. American WaterFactory provides a MetalGuard filter to remove unwanted metals to protect the ScaleStop units from iron.
  • Residential ScaleStop units are sized for standard stop/start residential use. For extended service flow such as long irrigation runs or filling a swimming pool, the unit should be bypassed or a commercial unit should be used.

In January of 2008, the Water Conditioning Industry performed a series of tests on ScaleStop’s ability to prevent scale formation on hot water heater elements. The result was impressive. Not only did ScaleStop prevent formation of new scale deposits, it actually removed existing scale.