Products known as “descalers” are said by the manufacturers (such as this one) to use electrical impulses to transform calcium bicarbonate (which builds up in pipes and water-using appliances, causing premature failure, and also leaves calcium residue on glassware, clothes, and so on) into calcium carbonate (in a form known as aragonite), which does not adhere -- so the scale problem is solved.

Truth or snake oil?


1 Answer 1


So, you only need a descaler/softener if you have what is known as hard water, which is basically just water with a lot of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. You can do a test that shows how many GPGs (grains per gallon) your water has. According to http://home.howstuffworks.com/question99.htm,

If your water tests at 1 GPG (17.1 mg/L) or less, then you have soft water. Water around 1-3.5 GPG (17.1-60 mg/L) occupies a gray zone between soft and slightly hard water and 3.5-7 GPG (60-120 mg/L) is moderately hard. Hard water is around 7-10.5 GPG (120 - 180 mg/L), and very hard water is above that.

So if it does turn out that you have hard water, then you look into descalers and softeners. The reason for this is that the calcium and magnesium come out of the water as scale, which builds up on the insides of pipes, water heaters, etc., to the point where they can become completely clogged.

A descaler is used to remove this buildup. They do this because they are acids and release hydrogen ions when dissolved in water. These ions, in turn, eat away at the scale by pulling at them with the charge. A softener is used to clean the water as it comes, disposing of the minerals safely. Water softeners are mechanical appliances that are put into your home's water system. They exchange the minerals for something else, usually sodium, in what's called an ion exchange. A diagram of a water softener is shown below:

diagram of water softener

This website provides more information about the exact workings of a water softener.

Hope this helps!

  • $\begingroup$ Same thing here - you should tell where did you get the pic $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Jun 25, 2016 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ waterpluspure.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/… has the image (I found this one searching Google Images as well) $\endgroup$ Jun 25, 2016 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ You shouldn't post pics which aren't free. Maybe leave only links to them? I'm no expert in this stuff unfortunately. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Jun 25, 2016 at 14:41
  • $\begingroup$ How can you tell if an image on, say, Google Images, is free? $\endgroup$ Jun 25, 2016 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ Usually they aren't, don't post them if you don't know. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Jun 25, 2016 at 15:43

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