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Magnets for treating/preventing Scale build-up

ABD Member Posts: 13
The Catholic Church prosecuted Galileo because it believed the earth was the center of the universe. Why? Because the Bible said so. That kind of "reasoning" will get you into trouble every time. The people who wrote the Bible did the best they could given their knowledge at the time, but of course it was long ago so there were a lot of things they didn't know.


  • justme_2
    justme_2 Member Posts: 14
    Water treatment

    Has anyone used magnets for treating scale build-up? I live in an area of hard water. I do not have space for a water softner. I have some scale build-up on my water heater and my dish washer laeaves my glasses with a hard film.

    I have visited websites with testimonials claiming that thier products work.

    I understand the science behind the magnets. But does it produce the reults?

    Has anyone used magnets or electromagnets before? DO they work? Specific brands?
  • ALH_4
    ALH_4 Member Posts: 1,790
    Dont work

    They don't work. I have seen the permanent magnet version used, and there was no change at all.

  • justme_2
    justme_2 Member Posts: 14

    Thank-you for you input. When you said "no change at all", what did you mean? What results where you looking for ? From my reasearch this cannot be measured with a hardness test or a test with TDS test. But the results can be measured with a soap foam test.

    I do not want to waste my money on a "gimmick". Again I thank-you for your input.

    Is there an alternative solution? Like I said I do not have space for a water softener
  • ALH_4
    ALH_4 Member Posts: 1,790

    There was really no test. it just made no difference in the glasses in the dishwasher. As I remember the magnets were fairly expensive too.

  • D107
    D107 Member Posts: 1,777
  • mtfallsmikey
    mtfallsmikey Member Posts: 765
    Ion Exchange

    Ie: water softener. Tried and true, no voodoo.
  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
    I've used them oin two homes now

    no, they don't soften the water, or replace a softner. they do seem to keep that white build up off of faucets and glasses in the dishwasher.

    I've done the with and without tests in my own home to see the results.

    If it's pure soft water you are after, then a softner is my suggestion.

    Always test your water before guessing on a treatment devise. It may require an iron filter, or a filter for taste and smell, or a UV or a softner. Maybe even a combo of equipment.

    Only a good water analysis will point you in the right direction.

    hot rod

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  • Barbarossa
    Barbarossa Member Posts: 89

    I am glad someone understands the science behind the magnets. Can someone explain it to me.
  • Kevin O. Pulver
    Kevin O. Pulver Member Posts: 380
    justme, search the archives here.

    I think I rememeber a good fight about this a few years back. If I remember right ME and some other guys weighed in on the side of magnets. Kevin
  • Ken_40
    Ken_40 Member Posts: 1,320
    There is no \"science\" behind

    magnets (with regard to water softening).

    One claim from europe (where else?) suggests there may be some miniscule benefit. The federal government tried them in various auto, munitions, boiler water, steam systems for a myriad of applications and found them worthless in all tests.

    When used on fuels (gasoline, diesel, K-1, etc.) they were found to have a measurable "influence" on a form of ionization that took place during combustion, but only at that point - having NO effect on the actual byproducts being identical as without magnetic influences.

    SI (Skeptical Inquirer) did a whole thing on debunking via true scientific methods and found no credible work ever favorable to magnetic treatment of anything. The issue was published roughly five or six years ago.

    A google search of "magnetic treatment" would result in many marketeers hustling their magnetic wares, while he scientific community and true reasearchers would suggest it is the magnetic phenom is laced with black magic and witchcraft.

    Sort of like those euro boiler's superiority claims (;-o)

  • Ken_40
    Ken_40 Member Posts: 1,320
    Here's one article...

    RE: magnets
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,284
    I've got a fat file...

    ... of advertising on magnetic treatment. Claims of cleaner water, better burning gas appliances, better gas mileage and better blood in your body... all attributed to strapping on magnets. There was a small side by side test done with different treatment devices by the National Assn of Corrosion Engineers. They did find a slight effect with magnets; nothing compared to softening... I'm waiting for someone with deep pockets to test many magnets in many water conditions to determine if/where they really may be of some benefit. Until then, they are over-sold and I could never suggest a client spend money on them.

    Yours, Larry
  • Anna Conda
    Anna Conda Member Posts: 122

    This comes up in industrial settings as well. It came up a few years ago on another forum and someone posted their experiences with some links. I also get approached on this from time to time, so I copied the reply and kept it, and here it is.

    ": I am hearing a lot about magnetic conditioners for prevent/ remove scale in boilers, coolin towers, heat exchangers, etc.
    : Please could you make some comments about this subject? (Does it work, case studies, etc.)
    : All comments will be very appreciated.
    : Hugs
    : Joubert

    My first job as a building operator was for a property management company that had had magnetic water conditioners with pyrite filters (WTFpyritefilters?) installed on all of the boilers in every building they owned (quite a few... ) Three years later I learned how to react to a boiler losing ten firetubes at the same time (little geysers everywhere...), how to retube a boiler, and then how to design, oversee and participate in total boiler replacement. At ten of their properties, total replacement was necessary, and considerable repair required at the other properties.

    My current employer had to retube their boiler 15 years ago, after installing a magnetic conditioner. Recently I was approached by another magnetic conditioner company, and had to battle with our accountants to get them to understand that this creature was the same idea as the previous creature. In doing so, however, I was able to accumulate a fair bit of information.

    The magnetic-conditioner sellers like to quote a 1997 FDA report that appears to condone the technology. However, they don't tell you that in 1999, the FDA recinded that report. In 2001, the US military conducted a study comparing several magnetic conditioner technologies. Their results can be found here, in this PDF: 420-49-34 Magnetic Water Treatment1.pdf

    This topic comes up quite frequently on the Water Treatment forum of The most recent discussion is here:

    There are many others and a search of the site will turn up many. However, this particular thread provides considerable amusement as, standing against a forum full of experienced mechanical, stationary and civil engineers in water treatment industries, the one lone proponant is a chap in a discipline totally unrelated to water treatment, who doesn't even know how to state his water hardness (let alone what it actually is), and the only evidence he can offer is his tea kettle =) But do search the site for other threads; there are many and they show up most often in the Water Treatment and Boiler & Pressure Vessel forums.

    The magnetic conditioner sellers can be very persuasive and they use a *lot* of technobabble that can easily confuse the unwary. It takes a very good understanding of chemistry to spot the flaws in their arguments, and most people just don't have that background. But there are some simple, practical questions that an operator can ask of a seller. The comments are not mine, but those of the engineer who gave me these questions, when I asked for advice on how to handle my recent seller. For the record, the seller was unable to answer any of the questions to any degree of satisfaction:

    1/ Does the unit have any approvals for it's intended purpose from a recognized body such as CSA, ASME, UL, etc. (Not that I know of.) I saw one once with a CSA sticker on the side of it, but it was for the electrical components, since it plugged into a 120V wall outlet. The approval sticker had nothing to do with the supposed function of the unit.

    2/ Have any manufacturers of equipment like boilers, chillers, cooling towers etc approved this device for use on their equipment? (Not that I know of.)

    3/ How do you test the unit to ensure it's working/still working? (I've never seen one with a test.)

    Additionally, check things like the performance warrenty. In the case of the device I was recently approached about, the performance was warrentied for only one year. Only one year? It usually takes that long for a boiler to build scale sufficient to be visible, does it not? So you open your boiler for its next inspection and oh, too bad so sad, your warrenty is up?

    As I said, the sellers rely on the average operator not having a strong background in chemistry. This is important, because they're taking advantage of normal property of water that water-treatment specialists and chemists know about, but most other people don't: Water can descale itself, if its composition is changed. The effect is short-lived but interesting. In fact, the Alberta Boilers Safety Association documents just such an occurance in the case of a boiler in 1916. This is rather before the sophisticated water treatment programs that we have today, and certainly before the first boiler-targetted magnetic water conditioner. In the case of this boiler in 1916, "Red Deer River water, which scales badly, was used in the boiler for a number of months and they then switched to mine water, which was very soft and at that time very dirty. The soft water loosened up the scale on the tubes and this deposited with the mud on the heating surface." (quoting from ABSA records published in their 100th Anniversary book)

    So there you have it. My own experiences, some resources and some other discussions. My own opinion should be fairly obvious by now, but I leave it to you to form your own opinion. Good luck!

    -- GeneratorGrrl"

    As for me, I've heard about cases where they work but personally I haven't seen one. Personally I have seen several cases where they didn't work. It just doesn't add up, really, calcium isn't magnetic. Put a magnet near scale and it doesn't do anything. There's also this page:
  • Brad White_125
    Brad White_125 Member Posts: 28
    Cured my arthritis!

    Gout, Goiter, kidney stones, brought selected ancestors back from the dead and yes, they even gather paper clips that fall into piles of wood shavings.

    God, I love magnets!
  • Luke_3
    Luke_3 Member Posts: 1
    Is that what I have in my basement?

    I have a broken, unhooked water softener in my basement; the previous homeowner proudly told me he replaced it with an "electronic" water softener for a few hundred dollars (he worked a supervisory job for the army core of engineers). It is a little white box with an insulated wire going from the unit, wrapping around the pipe tightly 20x or so and returning to this blinking box. Is this thing a "electromagnetic" softener, therefore junk? If I have moderately hard water, how important is it if I have a water softener, I am looking to have a new boiler and indirect water heater put in.

  • justme_2
    justme_2 Member Posts: 14

    The glasses in the dishwasher, would be a good sign fo me if they worked or not.

    Since you said that your experience showed that it made no difference on the glasses, than your test had negative results.

    Thank-you everyone for the input.

    Is there a good under sink RO unit that is recommended?
  • Ken_40
    Ken_40 Member Posts: 1,320

    You simply need a water softenor. The guy who does the boiler may have a clue. Get the water tested, see what's actually needed and do some legwork before the suits come knockin'.

    Let us know how you make out.
  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
    Why an RO?

    Do you have bacteria, cysts or heavy metal issues?

    Typically RO is an overkill unless you have some nasty stuff in your water. They waste a lot of water and produce very aggressive low ph water. They strip virtually everything from the water, including the minerals that are good for you, and leave it very flat tasting.

    I think RO's are way oversold as a cure all for every water condition. Great for carwashes, however :)

    Most often a simple carbon filter is just right for kitchen drinking water. I'd suggest a tap just for the filtered water. Not much sense in washing dishes in carbon filtered water.

    If you are not testing you're just guessing.

    The wrong treatment devise can actually leave your water worse than when you started.

    I'd still suggest you find a reputable water analysis pro before you spend money on product that may or may not be what you need.

    Ask around, not all water treatment folks are snake oil salesman. Often times a local university will have a lab to test water. Find someone local if possible that knows the problems, if any, common to your area.

    hot rod

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  • Perry_2
    Perry_2 Member Posts: 381
    The science Works, Flat Earth, and Magnets for water treatment

    This is one of my favorites...

    There are several aspects to the issue:

    1) The science behind magnets works quite well. Magnets attract ferritic metal objects. Water is not a ferritic metal nor are most things that can desolve in water.

    So if you are looking for the science on how magnets work. Amply proven many times - grade school experiment. Just pick up a bunch of paper clips. Now try picking up water with it (without touching the water so that the suface wicks up via surface tension).

    Science says that magnets do not work in water treatment except for some very rare water situation where you have a lot of iron based particles in the water. I note that a plain filter works better than the magnet though...

    2) Social science works quite well as well. People are gullable and want to believe that there is some magic or cheap cure for all kinds of things. Present them with a convincing story and they will believe.

    3) Buisness science works well too. The overiding purpose that they are manufactured and sold is to generate a profit for the mfr and sales agents. This works like a champ. Of course, they are not telling you that.

    Conclusion: Magentic water treatment is a S C A M; and always has been. Buy at your own risk. If it helps I am a Mechanical Engineer with decades of experience with industrial and power plant water treatment systems. I've used everything out there (even things most people have never heard of)- they all have their place depending on your local water conditions and how much you need to clean it up.

    Oh, Science and the Flat Earth story... Sorry, science never said that the earth was flat. Science knew that the earh was round many thousands of years ago and even calculated the diameter within a few percent about 3000 years ago.

    People in Columbus's day did not think the earth was flat. Why do you think that mariners had sextants in his day... The true story is the Columbus miscalculated the diameter of the earth (rather badly) and could not get funding from all those kings and queens because everyone laughed at his concept that he could sail to the far east as quickly as he claimed. He did manage to convince one queen of Spain - and is dang lucky that America was half way arround the world or he would have sailed into oblivion and run out of food and water.

    The "flat earth" story, and the "Columbus was a hero becuase he knew the truth" was invented in the late 1800's by the people writing textbooks for the newfound US education system. You could not present Columbus as a lucky fool - he had to be presented as a Hero. Now if we tell everyone that people believed the earth was flat - and only columbus figured it out... He would be a hero... If you look at the college textbooks prior to that you will not find any references to the flat earth story (and high schools did not exist yet).

    There are many other episodes of fictional "history" writing and a lot of what we were taught as history is not true....

    Anyway - on for science. Oh Magnetic water treatment is still a SCAM.

  • justme_2
    justme_2 Member Posts: 14
    The Reason for RO

    I am limited on space. The quality of my municipal drinking water is pretty good. Iron or bacteria are not my concerns. Smell, taste, appearance are good. My only concern is scale build-up.

    If there was something I could connect to my dishwaser or to my water heater without taking up much space, this would be ideal.

    Previously I have owened a Softner, they work great! Currently I do not have the space a softener would require.

  • Al_19
    Al_19 Member Posts: 170

    Undersink R.O. units supply water at very low pressure, 5 to 7#'s. That's how R.O. works---by the pressure drop across the membrane. So they can't treat water to the dishwasher. They are installed to feed a separate drinking water faucet, and sometimes the ice cube maker.

  • It depends...

    on the source of scale. wheter it is lime or sodium based. If it is glass water like is found in Texas and parts south, probably not. If it is up north where limescale is more prevelent, then probably will work. I have seen them work miracles in situations I thought were hopeless (Buffalo New York and Commerce City Colorado.

    There is not any sound scientific data to base their operations on, mostly annecdotal proof.

    I would never use them to protect critically important equipment (steam boilers) but have successufully used them all over this fine country of ours with absolute positive proof of their work.

    There is a company in the East called Kemtune Inc that makes them in MONSTER sizes, and has been doind so succesfully for over 40 years. You have to ask yourself, how can someone make a product that DOESN'T work and stay in business employing hunders of people for almost half a century...

    The proof is in the pudding, and proper sizing (with any conditioner) Don't try cutting corners or it won't work.

    I have one on the water heater at my second home, and that heater is going on 20 years old with no sign of lime scale accumulation.

    It just depends.

  • Kevin O. Pulver
    Kevin O. Pulver Member Posts: 380
    So Dan,

    What happened to my post? Perry brought up a good question which stayed for several days. When I give a solid, respectful answer, it's gone immediately? Where did it go? Did my post get aborted because it wasn't viable? Kevin
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,433
    Well, Kevin

    as you know, we've had several back-and-forth e-mails, always in private, where I've asked you not to use the Wall for preaching, and you gave me your word that you would do your best to control yourself since this isn't the place for preaching. Looks like you couldn't control yourself so I removed the posts.

    I was hoping I could depend on you, Kevin, and I'm sorry that you've taken this conversation public.
    Retired and loving it.
  • Kevin O. Pulver
    Kevin O. Pulver Member Posts: 380
    Fair enough Dan

    This is your site and you can add or delete what you want.
    In the context of this magnet thread, I merely stated that "science" wasn't infallible, and In fact it was always catching up to the Bible. Perry questioned the accuracy of a certain passage of scripture and you allowed it to remain. When I logically, directly, and respectfully answered his question, you pulled it. DIY theology is allowed here, the only real taboo is Bible. But DIY theology without biblical authority is like radiant design without a heat-loss. As I said, it's your site. But I'm glad you made this public. Sincere thanks for all you do. Kevin
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,433
    Thank you, Kevin.

    Hopefully, we won't have to have this conversation again.
    Retired and loving it.
  • JoJo
    JoJo Member Posts: 2
    hard water

    south eastern filtration manufactures a product called Hydroblend, its a sequestering agent. we have been using hydroblend for three years... lost alot of coil cleaning jobs but have happy customers. no gimicks
This discussion has been closed.