View Full Version : Softeners, resin, and iron removal

09-17-2009, 02:19 PM
I have been shopping for a new softener, since the old sears model has given out. My well water tested with a hardness of 35 gpg, and with significant iron. Water usage average is 161 gallons a day with 2 people.

Have been reading the forum here enough to learn to avoid the box stores softeners. But a whirlpool unit (WHES-HC) at the store claims to handle 10 ppm iron, and even has an iron removal setting. How are they doing this? Are they using a fine mesh resin to get these results? Or is there an iron filter built in somehow? A unit made by morton was making the same claims, thiers said up to 12 ppm iron.

Can you get this kind of performance (10 ppm iron) from a clack or a fleck by ordering it with the fine mesh resin? Are there any disadvantages to the fine mesh resin (I have read lower flow rate, but no description as to how much lower or if it is really a problem). Does fine mesh resin not last as long as regular resin?

I was thinking of a 40,000 grain unit, may be oversized for a small 1 bath house, but the water is really bad here and is amazing how fast everything is turning orange after the old softener stopped working. Still turned orange when it was working too, just took longer, so looking for a heavier duty unit.

Lots of places online selling the flecks, all their prices have the shipping already built in. Being very heavy, they must cost alot to ship. Will these companies quote a lower price for cash and carry if they are close by (I have 2 of these companies within 10 miles of me). Anyone have any experience with that?

09-17-2009, 02:23 PM
Others will be along to answer you questions better but Morton does make a salt that you can use if you have high iron...Im not sure how it works, or how well it works, but I have seen the bags...

09-18-2009, 08:07 AM
Well, thats quite a picture! :eek:

The iron number is 7, so I think it is right on the borderline on what a regular softener can handle. The old softener, which was a Sears Genius, could handle it kind of, the orange stains would still show up it just took longer. Everywhere I have read it says regular softeners can only handle 5 or so, thats why I was looking into the fine mesh.

I hear what you are saying biermech, but could you explain your reasons for not recommending a fine mesh (other than regular resin is good enough)? I have not seen the fine mesh talked about much, what are the pros and cons of using it?

If it can handle more iron and only costs a little more, Im thinking thats the way to go, unless there are other disadvantages?

Gary Slusser
09-18-2009, 12:26 PM
Well, thats quite a picture! :eek:
Seeing how they took care of their shower says they didn't take care of any water softener or iron filter either.

The iron number is 7, so I think it is right on the borderline on what a regular softener can handle. The old softener, which was a Sears Genius, could handle it kind of, the orange stains would still show up it just took longer. Everywhere I have read it says regular softeners can only handle 5 or so, thats why I was looking into the fine mesh.
Yes, for regular mesh a max of 5 ppm of clear water, soluble ferrous iron, no ferric iron (rust). Over that you should use SST-60 resin. It won't iron foul near as much as regular and fine mesh resins because it can't due to it having a solid inert core so iron can't get down in the middle of the bead. And a Turbulator is a good idea. Which means no gravel underbed.

Fine mesh resin causes a higher pressure loss across the softener than regular mesh or SST-60 resins and a softener with fine mesh resin will have a smaller DLFC which means you don't backwash as good as with regular mesh or SST-60 resins.

So if you want the softener to consistently remove all the iron for the longest time frame, and are going to a more expensive resin like fine mesh or SST-60, go with SST-60. Otherwise use regular mesh but only on up to 5 ppm of iron.

I suggest you look at a correctly sized softener using a Clack WS-1 control valve. It has many features other controls don't have. BTW, I teach all my customers how to fix their Clack WS-1 valve if needed. Anyone can totally replace all five parts in under 30 minutes even if they have never done anything like that before.

To learn all about correctly sizing a softener click Softener Sizing (http://www.qualitywaterassociates.com/softeners/sizingchart.htm) and at the bottom of that page, after doing your math, click on Calculator and it will check your math.

09-19-2009, 06:01 AM
Andy, I often work in areas up here where the iron is so high that any treatment system used requires constant and expensive maintenance. Of all the mineral conditions that exist, iron is by far the hardest to control.

Gary Slusser
09-19-2009, 10:37 AM
As a local dealer for 18 yrs on problem well water and now for the last 7 yrs in selling equipment all over the US as an online dealer, including Andy's area of NW OH and other areas in OH, along with other areas around the country, like IN, IL, MD, PA, NY, GA, MN, MI, etc. etc. where high iron is present.

I find that it is simply a matter of the equipment owner paying attention to their water quality and the equipment they have and operating it and maintaining as it should be and when it's needed.

Any DIYer can maintain it themselves or call a local dealer; preferably an independent dealer rather than a national brand dealers' service guy or salesman.

My national customers want to maintain their equipment themselves and prevent what we see in these pictures, so I teach them how to do that at no cost to them. Unlike most local dealers, salesmen and servicemen, I also did that as a local independent dealer. It is as easy to do it on the phone as it is in person on site but... but not all dealers etc. can do it on the phone, or are willing to donate their time to do it, especially at no charge. So I see no need for a followup on site visit.

Gary Slusser
11-27-2009, 08:43 AM
All resins are NSF Standard 61 compliant, approved for potable water use. And I've never had or heard of any bad SST-60 resin and I use it fairly frequently and have for a number of years, in water softeners, on potable water which includes drinking water.

You can check the spec sheet at www.purolite.com

It sounds to me that somebody had a poblem and mistakenly accused the resin, or there was a bad batch that wasn't caught before being shipped. I've had that with regular mesh resin once (bad taste and an odor) and I've read of another dealer having the problem with two customers. That was a year+ ago.

11-28-2009, 07:54 AM
Iron equates 4 grains for each part per million. (Gary's figure) Sears and some other softeners say to consider it as 5 grains. Regardless, your iron content equates to at least 28 grains of hardness.

You've already got 35 grains which will require quite a bit of salt in and of itself. Point being you may want to consider an iron filter of some sort. (expensive, but doesn't use salt) You also need to know if you have iron bacteria. Take off the tank lid off your toilet and run your hand through the slime growing in there. Orange clustery slime is iron bacteria. If you've got it you'll need to cope with it as well. (there's other things that could be in your water that would need to be killed)

In addition, you'll need to know your ph level as well. If it's lower than 7 (8 would be close to ideal) you may need to cope with that as well. Either bacteria or ph can make your softener inefectual.

In answer to your question: The valves (Clack, Fleck, Autotrol) don't have much to do with the abillity of the softener to remove iron. The "active ingredient" is the resin inside the softener. They're all astonishingly reliable, with somewhat different features and very different designs. Gary sells the Clack and makes a strong case that it's the best end user valve with nothing else even getting close.

All that said, your sears unit is probably fixable with a little effort. You can find the model number by lifting the lid of your salt tank and finding something like 625.******, then download the appropriate manual at: http://www.kenmorewater.com/website/customer-assist/1-kenmore-water-softener-manuals.html

Lots of luck. The only real advice I can give is: Don't buy anything from anyone until you know why to buy (and why not).

Gary Slusser
11-29-2009, 01:31 PM
Ive been educating my self on well water solutions and there is much to learn to do it right IMO.

1)Grains 6
2)iron 3.5 ppm
3)ph 6.7
4)used to get a smell, but don't anymore
5) water flow about 20 gpm(my well pump is 2 or 2.5 hp at 100ft below grade)

Also: I plan to install sprikler system next year and want to minimize zones cause they charge by the zone for flushing out the water before freeze comes.

this is what I think Is good for me:
1)30um pre filter
2)dual 90k (180total) grain softener filled with SST-60 (if it is safe to use) and a turbulator (if they dont cause problems)
3) post filter: whole house KDF + Carbon Block, two sets hooked in parellel. (both the non backwashing type)
4)maybe reverse osmosis serviceing two drinking taps

The sprinler will be tapped in at two different spots in the appropritate places.

What do you think? other people are definatly welcome to comment.

Appreciate constructive responses,
IMO you need more education.

I need more info from you.

Like why a prefilter? I see no need for one and they cause problems.

Why a 90K twin? Way too large from what I see so far.

Why KDF? I see now need for this and don't like KDF because it is so hard to successfully backwash, plus it is so expensive.

Is there a POE/whole house carbon block cartridge, and what is its SFR gpm?

Where are you Teeing off the irrigation?

What is the need for an RO?

As to SST-60, I see no need for it but...

The SST-60 process does not use solvents and the resin (Polystyrene) is completely non-toxic. If SST-60 is to be used for potable water, a field conditioning process is recommended by Purolite™ to completely rinse manufacturing residuals from the resin. This should eliminate aesthetic problems and allow use of SST-60 water for human consumption.

If a softener is installed properly, all resins are backwashed and otherwise rinsed as part of the installation.

BTW, why hijack this thread instead of starting a new one? This thread is months old.

Gary Slusser
11-29-2009, 11:19 PM
Marty, no it doesn't.

Gary Slusser
11-30-2009, 04:14 PM
ummm you think I don't understand SFR? Or it is something else? If I didn't understand SFR I wouldn't have been able to ask you this question: Is there a POE/whole house carbon block cartridge, and what is its SFR gpm?

SST-60 is non toxic, it meets NSF Standard 61 for potable water use, regardless of what Water King says. I have been using SST-60 for a number of years and I've never heard of any aesthetic effects. So you're against SST-60, or what is your point, what are you trying to say?

11-30-2009, 05:08 PM
SST-60 is non toxic, it meets NSF Standard 61 for potable water use,


I went to the Purolite website and checked the SST-60 data sheet. So far as I can find there is no NSF 61 statement for SST-60.
The 100E resin data sheet contains the following statement: "the resin is in compliance with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration Code of Federal Regulations section 21, paragraph 173.25; for use in the treatment of foods for human consumption." The data sheet for SST-60 resin does NOT contain this statement.

Gary Slusser
11-30-2009, 06:14 PM
I doubt you'd find that on any resins' spec sheet but it should be on the bag of resin or it wouldn't be legal to use it for 'potable' water.

And now I just caught that that line about the USFDA says food, nothing about water: "the resin is in compliance with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration Code of Federal Regulations section 21, paragraph 173.25; for use in the treatment of foods for human consumption."

And that would be why Purolite suggests the field process rinse so the food is not 'tainted' taste wise. The resin would be rinsed in a softener simply by running water in the house IF the softener wasn't backwashed and rinsed as part of the installation as all should be before putting them in Service.

That would be where the 'food' like maple syrup, corn syrup etc. is run through the resin. That is much different than treating water.

Gary Slusser
11-30-2009, 07:48 PM
As I said before, you need more education. There are serious errors in your plan.

And if you were wanting to buy that equipment from me, I'd refuse to sell it to you because IMO it is not going to be satisfactory for very long.

If you want me to discuss this with you, answer the questions I asked you and lose the attitude.

Gary Slusser
12-01-2009, 08:05 AM
I'm guessing the sst-60 is mainly a commersial resign, what would be interesting to find out is what they mean by field conditioning. I'm no expert but I dont think its running the softener thru a cycle once before use, fits what they mean by conditioning, but I could be wrong.

Interesting that folks recommend it and aren't aware of these things.
Yes you are guessing and you are making and working with incorrect assumptions.

SST-60 is non toxic as you've found and it is used for any softening application from residential to industrial.

Your misplaced fears aside, there is no reason for any dealer to not recommend it except if they recommend it when regular resin would work as well.

12-01-2009, 08:25 AM
I have SST-60 resin installed in the softener in my home and have been very satisfied with it. Based on my research it is commonly used in residential units. When the resin was initially installed it did required a complete regeneration before it would deliver clear water. I think a regeneration is what is meant by field conditioning. There is an employee of Purolite, Gary Schreiber, that posts on some boards on the internet and if you are concerned about using SST-60 in a residential application you might want to specifically post a question to Gary or to Purolite.

12-01-2009, 03:21 PM

my apoligizes if this cause anyone some worries.


If you follow that link the certification that is posted for SST-60 has expired--in other words it is not currently listed unless there is another later certification.

Also, if you go to the NSF website and search for a certification for SST-60 none is returned. Here is the NSF website search: http://www.nsf.org/certified/consumer/listings_advanced.asp

Gary Slusser
12-02-2009, 08:38 AM
SST-60 isn't the only thing I'm right about, you as yet don't know about the other things.

As to the softener... IF you have a 20 gpm peak demand flow rate, you need a softener with a constant SFR higher than 20 gpm.

You don't base that on the gpm rating of the pump.

I would not sell you a softener with a 20 gpm constant SFR or to do with it what you are saying you want to do, and as you want to do. To size a softener I need more info by way of a phone call.

12-02-2009, 02:47 PM
I've got 20 GPM flow at my house to the softener input, and need to size a new softener to handle it (filter IRON at a high flow rate) when I install a sprinkler system that will be set up to deliver 20 GPM per zone.

Softeners are not typically used to treat water used for irrigation because a softener exchanges sodium for the iron, manganese and hardness and elevated levels of sodium are generally not good for plants. Softeners can be regenerated with potassium chloride rather than sodium chloride but it is much more expensive and more must be used so it is not, in my view, a viable alternative for treating irrigation water.

There are alternative methods to remove iron and manganese to achieve your objective of avoiding staining that do not use ion exhange and the resultant elevated levels of sodium in the treated water. In my opinion, you would be well advised to use something other than a softener to treat your irrigation water.

12-02-2009, 04:43 PM

Yep heard about that too and agree salt needs to be understood., but I live in the northeast (mucho rain) just not consistant and also have low grain count in well water. If I lived in Arizona or had high grain count, then no softener, but living where rain dilutes the salt and not many salt ions exchanged because of grain count, wammo, no salt build up. And the sprinkler is not used year long.

AND if I have a very efficient softener I use less salt is used (why interested in SST-60) or I can us potassium cloride instead of sodium cloride during that short strech.

Just need sprinkler for 1-3 months, depending on the weather. Example was this year, it was a mild and wet summer.

Soon will throw some money at the softener system to get ready for next year when we do some planting of the usual stuff along with grass (legal stuff of course). Also going to polish it off with a parellel filter of Carbon with KDF55, this should cover most uglies.

Going parellel cause had a funny experience last summer, came home from the beach and everyone wanted a shower (last day and we checked out of our rooms already but we visited the ocean) wife thru stuff in cloths washer, she forgot to turn on dishwasher when we left for vacation so she turned it on when we got home, and I turned on a hose sprinkler for vegetable garden in back and one for little flower garden in front. So we got 3 showers, dishwasher, clothes washer, and 2 outside outside faucets running at the same time. Well we had IRON leakage (for a lack of a better word, took a couple of days to get rid of the smell, wife cleaned the shower floors. Caused me to do some research on are present softener, learned a few things about filtering.


You clearly have your mind made up and have stopped listening. You may have learned "a few things about filtering" but you haven't yet learned what you don't know. It looks like you are going to have to learn the hard way.

Gary Slusser
12-02-2009, 06:29 PM
I've got 20 GPM flow at my house to the softener input,
And how do you know that?

As in most sprinkler systems installations, the sprinkler system will be designed to work directly off of the well not the pressure tank.
And the softener is at the house?

When you said my dual 90ks were way too large, I concluded either you didn't really understand my situation or you didn't really know what you were talking about.
I didn't know then that you wanted to soften the irrigation water. Whihc is a very dumb idea because if it rained as much as you think it will, you wouldn't need irrigation. And trust me, 1-3 months in NJ is more than enough time to kill vegetation with softened water.

The other problem is that when the irrigation is not being used, your 3 cuft tank is probably going to be way too big for the house peak demand, but I can't say for sure until I have more info.

My business is booming like days of old right now.

Gary Slusser
12-03-2009, 12:02 PM
20 gpm was figured out by measuring water held in pressure tank and then divided by the time it took the well to file the tank back up.
But that's not what you need to know to size the softener for a house, which in your first post you didn't say you were softening the irrigation water.

In almost all my posts I've been stating how the softener will filter out the IRON for the sprinkler system zones near the house and hardscape. For some reason you ignore the data given too you. Since sprinker usage is limited to a few months I have the flexibility of going to potasium cloride or just using regular salt. Also grains are low so salt added to water isn't high. but again you don't listen.
And as I said, and you now say, you haven't said in all your posts that you wanted to softener all the water including the irrigation water.

I'm not ignoring what you say or not listening, I have commented on what you have said. And you're using incorrect assumptions because you think you know everything, and that is not true.

getting a chuckle out of you and bob99, or is it bob and you, how many other aliases do you have? Saw an interesting article that described folks who post on forums with many alias tend to always think they are right so they create aliases that agree with them.

chuckle chuckle chuckle,
That makes no sense... they think they are right so they use aliases that agrees with them! WHY would they do that since they think they are right to begin with?

I've been using my real name in posts like this since Jan 1997. A Bob Schafer (sic) if IIRC, called me a few months ago and I think it was Bob999 but don't know for sure. He said he was from PA, and Bob999 says he is. I'm from PA but live in my motor home and we are currently in AZ and haven't been in PA since Sept 2007. I have a 3.5 year old cell phone with a 570 (PA) area code phone number, it's the only phone we have. I told the Bob that called me that he didn't need the piece of equipment he asked me about. Terry, the owner here would probably be glad to check and tell you if Bob999 and I are the same person. Anyway, Bob or me, as far as I can recall, neither of us gave you any incorrect info.

Gary Slusser
12-03-2009, 05:48 PM
It seems you failed to notice how much you remind us of a Previous Member.

Gary Slusser
12-04-2009, 08:42 PM
I've known you to use other names and not "real" names before. So you are misleading.
Actually my statement is true; I have used my real name since Jan 1997.