How much Citric Acid and how to apply?

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Asker123

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Hi , I did a search but opinions are varying.
My new softener (2.5 Cubic feet) was installed in Nov 2022. I have 0.12 ppm iron in raw water but by opening the Big Blue 20 sediment filter that is installed before the softener, I found that there is rust caught by the pre filter but some of this might be reaching to the softer resin. I have two BigBlue 20 pre filters. One is washable pleated 10 microns and other non washable 5 micron sediment filter.

So I want to use some sort of resin cleaner. By reading the forum, I have concluded that I will use Food grade Citric Acid and not the Iron Out.
The supply I am getting is a bag of 10 lbs fine granular Citric Acid for $50 Canadian. THis should last me 5 months so $10 per month . Not bad

Application - How Much to use? Is 2 Lbs per month good enough? and how to dump? normally I keep Salt in the tank a few inches above brine level. So when I want to put Citric Acid, should I let the salt go below the water level and sprinkle 2 lbs of Citirc acid at the top layer of the Brine?

Please suggest
 

Bannerman

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Most iron in well water is in a ferrous state so it will be fully dissolved in the water and cannot be removed with a simple sediment filter. The fact that your sediment filter is collecting Red iron signifies some portion of iron that has been oxidized into a ferric state.

Although using a water softener is not the most efficient method to remove ferrous iron, when the iron quantity is not significant such as the 0.12ppm within your well water, a softener is often utilized instead of incurring the additional expense for a dedicated iron removal system.

Since your softener has been operating for ~6 months with no iron cleaning compound, suggest performing an initial resin cleaning by dissolving ~1 cup of citric acid into 1-gallon warm water which is then poured into the brine well inside of the brine tank. Immediately initiate a manual regeneration cycle to draw the acid and brine solution into the softener.

Because your iron quantity is low, after the initial cleaning, when adding salt, suggest sprinkling some dry citric acid into the brine tank onto the salt between each bag being added. The citric acid amount is usually not specified as we don't know the pH value for your well water. Low pH (<7.0) will signify the water is acidic to some degree compared to >7.0 pH so the pH value will influence the amount of citric acid needed to increase the acidity of the brine.

To reduce the frequency for monitoring the amount of salt within the brine tank, the tank will commonly be filled to the top with salt. Once filled, it may then take several months before sufficient salt is consumed to cause the top of the salt to be below the liquid level, which would signify when to refill the brine tank with additional salt.
 
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Asker123

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Thanks Bannerman,
Just one cup of citric acid mixed in 1 gallon of water that too for initial cleaning? By searching the forum I found folks mentioned to add couple of pounds ( I took that as 2 pounds ) every month.
My PH is 7.20

I am really confused how much of Citric Acid to use.
My Brine fill time is 25 minutes @0.25 BLFC I have 6.25 Gallons of Brine in the tank and some extra brine that does not get drawn. My tank is not big enough. I keep Salt a couple of inches above the Brine and Salt is roughly half mark of the tank.
 

Reach4

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For a catch-up treatment, consider getting your treatment solution to sit with the resin beads for a while.

A good way to do this is to start the regen. Then when the BD starts, monitor the TDS at the drain line output. When that takes a big jump, stop the flow thru the resin by putting the unit into bypass. You can let the cycle continue, but it will not move water.

At some time later, (2 to 5 hours maybe), take the unit out of bypass. Trigger another regen to wash the stuff out of the resin. Optionally, skip ahead at the backwash, so that you start with a slow movement of the remaining solution. If easy, consider watching the water coming out of the drain during the early minutes of the back. See if it is yellow colored. I have not done this.

Why did you want to not use IO, at least for your catch-up cleaning? It has a smell, but IMO not so bad, and it all drains out. It is more effective for pulling iron out of resin than citric acid.
 

Bannerman

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My tank is not big enough. I keep Salt a couple of inches above the Brine and Salt is roughly half mark of the tank.
I don't follow why you think your brine tank is not big enough? If salt is only being added so the top of the salt is only half way up the height of the brine tank, that suggests the top half of the tank is empty and may therefore continue to be filled with additional salt.

Add a scoop of Citric acid, then a bag of salt, then another scoop of acid, and another bag of salt ... until full.

The salt above the liquid level is in storage and should remain dry since the fresh water will enter through the port at the bottom of the tank within the brine well. As the salt at the bottom of the tank becomes dissolved and is drawn out as brine, the dry salt (& citric acid) in storage above will drop lower until the remaining salt eventually becomes submerged below the liquid, which is when to refill the tank with additional salt and citric acid.

some extra brine that does not get drawn.
Since the air-check valve at the bottom of the brine tank will close when the brine has been drawn down to the mid-point line on the air-check screen, any brine below that line will always remain, but that remaining amount is irrelevant.

Because your Brine Fill setting is 25-minutes flowing through a 0.25 GPM BLFC, then 6.25 gallons fresh water will be added to any remaining brine each cycle. Since 3-lbs salt will be dissolved for every 1-gallon entering the brine tank, your current 25-minute BF setting is resulting in 18.75 lbs salt to be dissolved into brine, and that entire amount will be drawn during each subsequent regeneration cycle, regardless of the remaining brine.

Since the amount of iron is low, and as the softener has been in use for only about 6-months, I anticipated the amount of iron that will be adhering to the resin is probably minor and will likely be eliminated by the procedure as detailed.

If you wish to allow the citric acid extended contact time with the resin during the initial cleaning cycle, then suggest after adding the citric acid solution to the brine tank, initiate a manual regen cycle and once as much of the brine & acid solution possible has been transferred from the brine tank to the resin tank, then pull out the power plug to prevent the control valve from advancing, and also bypass water flow from the softener to keep the solution within the resin tank.

Once the desired extended contact time has elapsed, then un-bypass the softener and restore power, to allow the control valve to complete the remaining regeneration cycle.

Unplugging the power plug just after the brine has been transferred to the resin tank, will cause the control valve's drain port to remain open, which will allow any off-gases resulting from the citric acid - iron reaction to be vented to drain has opposed to building-up within the media tank.

Since 18.75 lbs salt is being consumed each cycle for a softener containing 2.5 ft3 resin, what Capacity setting did you program?
 
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Asker123

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Thanks again for elaboration.
My Capacity and other settings are suggested by Reach4 in the thread below. Feel free to review and suggest anything. I am all ears.


About Citric Acid, I have no issues following what you are saying , its just that Dittohead who is another experienced member of this site suggested 2 lbs in the thread below but I guess he was talking about heavier load of Iron. Mine is 0.12 ppm iron which I guess is not considered a lot. PH is 7.20 . What is relation of Citric Acid application with PH


Lastely @Reach4 - I am trying to keep away from harsh Chemicals as much as I can hence Food grade Citric Acid over Iron Out. We dont drink our softened water anyways but use it to wash rinse our food. And I try not expose family members skin to any water that came contact with harsh Chemicals. But I could be wrong. Its just in my mind that Food grade Citric Acid will do good job for low level of iron that I have. However I do not know if keeping the resin in topnotch condition what else needs to be done other than iron remover. My Salt bag ( link below) says that it has some resin cleaning characteristics. Not sure if I need products like ResCare as well.
My expectation of resin to last is is 15 years. Its a difficult job so if I do it less than 15 years. I will be disappointed.

 

Reach4

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I would expect your resin will last longer. From what I can tell, it is mainly long-term chlorine that degrades. Yours only gets a bit of chlorine during sanitizing.
 

Bannerman

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Dittohead who is another experienced member of this site suggested 2 lbs in the thread below
Before my initial recommendation, I searched through numerous posts from Ditttohead to determine if he specified an actual amount. It seems I did not search far enough back.

That post mentions a couple pounds when iron loads are higher, but a chemical drip when the iron is less than 0.5ppm. Adding dry Citric acid between each bag of salt will act similar or better than a chemical drip system. If you wish, there will be no harm in using a larger amount of Citric acid for the initial cleaning. For ongoing preventative maintenance, when layering some Citric acid between each bag of salt, I suspect that will likely result in 2 lbs or more CA to be added to the brine tank during each salt top-up.

The citric acid added between each bag of salt, is to be sprinkled dry. That CA will remain dry while sandwiched between the layers of dry salt, but as the dry salt & dry CA drop down into the liquid below, then each layer of salt and CA will be progressively dissolved.

Since your raw water pH is 7.2 and as CA is a fairly strong acid, the CA will lower the pH of the brine, likely far below 7.0 pH, especially as your additional CA will suppliment the acid already included in the resin cleaning salt being used. Acidic brine (<7.0 pH) will assist to remove iron deposits from the resin which will permit the resin to more efficiently fulfill it's intended primary function, that is to remove hardness.

I saw in your previous post that you were concerned with potential salt bridges, which I suspect is why you have been choosing to not completely fill your brine tank with salt.

A salt bridge is a result of dry salt above the liquid level becoming wet and then drying out again. When kept wet, salt will dissolve rapidly, but when briefly wetted, salt will begin to dissolve, but will often clump together as a solid mass when it drys out again.

Since most brine tanks are narrower at the bottom, a solid mass of clumped dry salt can become wedged between the tank walls. As the wet salt within the liquid below is consumed, the clumped salt may then not drop into the liquid, and will usually prevent additional dry salt above the clump from dropping, so no/too little brine may be produced to restore the depleted capacity which the subsequent regen cycle is to restore. When the programmed capacity is not restored, the softener will eventually loose the ability to remove hardness which can be confusing for many owners since the softener is not delivering soft water even as it seems to be functioning correctly, and there is plenty salt remaining within the brine tank.

To prevent salt bridging, ensure the salt in storage above the liquid level is kept as dry as possible. This is why we advised to add the premixed CA solution into the brine well (~4" plastic tube) as opposed to pouring the liquid solution directly onto the salt.



brine-tank_1608310162.jpg
 
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Asker123

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I have bought bulk Citric Acid and will start application from next Regen approx coming Sunday.
Question - Do Phosphoric acid based cleaners like Rescare do anything differently or cleans different things from the Resin which Citric Acid will not do? I am trying to understand whether I should alternate between Citric and Phosphoric acid for cleaning or only Citric Acid is sufficient? Any knowledge on this aspect?
 

dstutz

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Question - Do Phosphoric acid based cleaners like Rescare do anything differently or cleans different things from the Resin which Citric Acid will not do? I am trying to understand whether I should alternate between Citric and Phosphoric acid for cleaning or only Citric Acid is sufficient? Any knowledge on this aspect?

Sorry to revive this but I actually have the exact same question as above about there being a difference between using ResCare vs just adding some citric acid between bags of salt and figured it would be better to just keep to this thread. Is there any difference in functionality or effectiveness?
 

MaxBlack

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I asked perplexity.ai about this and here is the response, which cites sources if one wants to dig further. FWIW:

"ResCare and citric acid are both used for water softener maintenance, but they have some differences. ResCare is a specially formulated liquid resin cleaner designed to clean resin pores of iron, manganese, silt, metal particles, and organic compounds that cause softener inefficiencies. It is recommended for regular use to restore the softener beads and control valve parts back to peak efficiency and maintain the life of the unit.
https://proproducts.com/products/res-care
On the other hand, citric acid is a more natural alternative and can help remove scale and mineral buildup in the resin bed of the water softener.
https://www.merleswater.com/what-type-of-softener-salt-should-i-use/
Citric acid is best suited for usage in water softeners where iron is not present, but extra preventative maintenance is desired.
https://www.merleswater.com/what-type-of-softener-salt-should-i-use/
The choice between ResCare and citric acid may depend on factors such as the level of cleaning required, the presence of iron in the water, and personal preference. It's important to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for the specific product being used and to use the correct dosage for effective maintenance."
 
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