Scientists are investigating if installing a home water softener can relieve children's eczema symptoms.
The Department of Health-backed study will also look at the differing effects of hard and soft water on the condition which causes dry and itchy skin.
Eczema has been reported to be more common in hard-water areas but it is not understood why that might be.
One mother who has taken part in the research said she had seen a ""dramatic improvement"" in her son's condition.
Eczema affects up to 20% of children in the UK. It typically occurs on the face, neck, and the insides of the elbows, knees, and ankles.
In infants, it is usually seen on the forehead, cheeks, forearms, legs, scalp, and neck.
The study, which began in 2007 and will run until this summer, is recruiting children aged six months to 16 years with moderate to severe eczema.
Eight research centers in Portsmouth, Boston, Lincoln, Nottingham, Leicester, Cambridge, Newport on the Isle of Wight and London are involved.
Just over 230 children have already taken part, but the researchers are looking for another 80.
The children, or their parents, will be asked to complete a daily diary to record eczema symptoms and will be issued with a small computerized wristband to monitor their level of night-scratching while they are asleep. The families have the water softener for 12 weeks, then it is taken away from another four to see if there is any change.
The children continue to use their normal eczema treatment throughout the study.
Anne-Marie Crawford-Flanagan from Portsmouth has just finished taking part in the trial with her 15-month-old son Dylan.
He first developed eczema when he was about three months old, and his symptoms became increasingly serious.
"After a few months, he developed atopic eczema where his skin blistered. It was horrendous."
Every day, Anne-Marie had to cover Dylan's body in cream and then put a wetted outfit of special tights and a turtle-neck long-sleeved top with mittens, plus a dry version of the outfit on him to try and stop him scratching.
Each night, he had to bathe in emollient bath oils - before the whole process was repeated.
She says: ""Dylan had bleeding sores, and even changing him was heart-breaking. Every time his skin was exposed, he started scratching. "And he wouldn't sleep for more than an hour without waking up to scratch.
"We had about a dozen different creams on prescription and I was at my wit's end."
But using the softener led to rapid and significant benefits. "Less than two weeks after the softener was installed there was a dramatic improvement. Now there's barely a mark on him.
"He's a completely different baby."
When the softener was removed, Dylan's eczema started to return, so the family have now bought their own device.
"He has been sleeping through, and he doesn't have to wear the special suits any more. Now he's just in normal vests."
Professor Tara Dean of Portsmouth University, one of the experts co-ordinating the study, said: ""If water softeners are found to improve the symptoms of eczema it will be a breakthrough for both patients and doctors.
Margaret Cox, chief executive of the National Eczema Society, said she looked forward to having the evidence to be able to advise families if using a softener would help.
"Anecdotally there are years of reports of people saying soft or softened water was helpful."
She said the suggestion was soft water was better to wash with, and therefore needed less soap or detergent - which are irritants for people with eczema. (Source: BBC)
Kenmore brand said its new line of water softeners is engineered with new efficiency functionality for homeowners seeking to reduce hard water. The water softeners' IntelliSoft2 technology uses less salt and water than older water softener systems (other Kenmore water softeners sold since 2001).
The Model 42-38420, for example, designed for large homes and families, is designed to use up to 35% less salt (4049 pounds over 10 years) and 37% less water (2217 gallons over 10 years). An Ultra Cleansing feature filters particles up to 250 micron particle size to help keep particles of sediment from the home's plumbing system.
The Kenmore® brand, one of the nation's leading names in appliances for more than 80 years, announces its latest and most efficient line of water softener systems*. The new Kenmore water softener systems offer stylish designs and unique functionality for customers seeking to reduce hard water in their homes.
"Kenmore has a long tradition of launching innovative appliances that help simplify and enhance our customers' lives," said Scott Freidheim, executive vice president, Sears Holdings and president, Kenmore, Craftsman & DieHard. "By continuously introducing exclusive new technologies within our Kenmore appliances, such as the new Kenmore water softeners, we are able to provide our customers with efficient solutions for their day-to-day needs in the home."
The new Kenmore water softeners have exclusive IntelliSoft2™ technology, which uses less salt and water than older water softener systems*. Replacing an older model softener with a Kenmore IntelliSoft2 system will save consumers money and time, in addition to several other advantages, including more efficient operation of appliances and reduced buildup in plumbing and fixtures, as well as brighter and whiter clothing and linens.
The new Kenmore water softeners include:
- Kenmore® Ultra High Efficiency Water Softener, Model 42-38420, with Exclusive IntelliSoft2
- A great choice for anyone, and the best choice for larger homes and families
- Uses up to 35 percent less salt (4,049 pounds over 10 years) and 37 percent less water (2,217 gallons over 10 years)*
- Features the Ultra Flow valve with 41 percent greater water flow than the High Flow valve
- Includes the Ultra Cleansing feature, which helps to keep larger particles** of sediment from the home's plumbing system
- Offers a large lighted LCD display with water-use monitor
- Dimensions: 21"L x 17"W x 48"H
- Kenmore® Extra High Efficiency Water Softener, Model 42-38350, with Exclusive IntelliSoft2
- A better choice for families up to six people and water hardness up to 45 grains per gallon when compared to the Kenmore High Efficiency Water Softener
- Uses up to 30 percent less salt (3,425 pounds over 10 years) and 34 percent less water (2,051 gallons over 10 years)*
- Includes the Ultra Cleansing feature, which helps to keep larger particles** of sediment from the home's plumbing system
- Offers a lighted LCD display with water-flow indicator
- Dimensions: 19.5"L x 16.5"W x 47.75"H
- Kenmore® High Efficiency Water Softener, Model 42-38300, with Exclusive IntelliSoft2
- A good choice for families up to four with water hardness up to 35 grains per gallon
- Uses up to 20 percent less salt (2,328 pounds over 10 years) and 32 percent less water (1,957 gallons over 10 years)*
- Dimensions: 19.5"L x 16.5"W x 46"H
Water softening (water softener) is the reduction of the concentration of calcium, magnesium, and other ions in hard water. These "hardness ions" can cause a variety of undesired effects including interfering with the action of soaps, the build up of limescale, which can foul plumbing, and galvanic corrosion. Conventional water-softening appliances intended for household use depend on an ion-exchange resin in which hardness ions are exchanged for sodium ions. Water softening may be desirable where the source of water is hard. However, hard water also conveys some benefits to health by providing dietary calcium and magnesium and reducing the solubility of potentially toxic metal ions such as lead and copper.
Methods for water softening
Water softening methods mainly rely on the removal of Ca2+ and Mg2+ from a solution or the sequestration of these ions, i.e. binding them to a molecule that removes their ability to form scale or interfere with detergents. Removal is achieved by ion exchange and by precipitation methods. Sequestration entails the addition of chemical compounds called sequestration (or chelating) agents.
Since Ca2+ and Mg2+ exist as nonvolatile salts, they can be removed by distilling the water, but distillation is too expensive in most cases (rainwater is soft because it is, in effect, distilled).
Ion-exchange resin devices
Ion-exchange materials contain sodium ions (Na+) that are electrostatically bound and that readily are replaced by hardness ions such as Ca2+ and Mg2+. Ion exchange resins are organic polymers containing anionic functional groups to which the Na+ is bound. Minerals called zeolites also exhibits ion-exchange properties; these minerals are widely used in laundry detergents.
The water to be treated passes through a bed of the resin. Negatively-charged resins absorb and bind metal ions, which are positively charged. The resins initially contain univalent (1+) ions, most commonly sodium, but sometimes also hydrogen (H+) or potassium (K+). Divalent calcium and magnesium ions in the water replace these univalent ions, which are released into the water. The "harder" the water, the more hydrogen, sodium or potassium ions are released from the resin and into the water.
Resins are also available to remove carbonate, bi-carbonate and sulphate ions which are absorbed and hydroxyl ions released from the resin. Both types of resin may be provided in a single water softener.
The resin's capacity is gradually exhausted and eventually it contains only divalent ions, Mg2+ and Ca2+ for cation exchange resins, and SO42- for anion exchange resins. At this stage, the resin must be regenerated. If a cationic resin is used (to remove calcium and magnesium ions) then regeneration is usually effected by passing a concentrated brine, usually of sodium chloride or potassium chloride, or hydrochloric acid solution through them. For anionic resins, regeneration typically uses a solution of sodium hydroxide (lye) or potassium hydroxide. The salts used for regeneration are released into the soil or sewer.
In industrial scale water softening plants, the effluent flow from re-generation process can precipitate scale that can interfere with sewerage systems.
Chelators are used in chemical analysis, as water softeners, and are ingredients in many commercial products such as shampoos and food preservatives. Citric acid is used to soften water in soaps and laundry detergents. A commonly used synthetic chelator is EDTA.
Effects of sodium
For people on a low-sodium diet, the increase in sodium levels (for systems releasing sodium) in the water can be significant, especially when treating very hard water. For example:
A person who drinks two litres (2L) of softened, extremely hard water (assume 30 gpg) will consume about 480 mg more sodium (2L x 30 gpg x 8 mg/L/gpg = 480 mg), than if unsoftened water is consumed.
This amount is significant, The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that the 3 percent of the population who must follow a severe, salt-restricted diet should not consume more than 400 mg of sodium a day. AHA suggests that no more than 10 percent of this sodium intake should come from water. The EPA’s draft guideline of 20 mg/L for water protects people who are most susceptible. Most people who are concerned with the added sodium in the water generally have one tap in the house that bypasses the softener, or have a reverse osmosis unit installed for the drinking water and cooking water, which was designed for desalinisation of sea water. Potassium chloride can also be used instead of sodium chloride, which would have the added benefit of helping to lower blood pressure, although costly. However, this should be done carefully as elevated potassium levels are dangerous and can lead to complications such as cardiac arrhythmia, although a person with normal kidney function would have to consume a large amount of potassium to develop hyperkalemia.
Executive summary about water softener systemsBy Kent Pinkerton
Water Softener Systems
Do you ever feel like nothing you do when you clean works? Do you still feel dirty when you get out of the shower? Does your hair feel dry after you wash it? Your problem might be hard water.
The term, “hard water,” refers to water with a high mineral content. The most common minerals that cause water hardness are calcium and magnesium. When these minerals end up in a household’s water supply household pipes become clogged and appliance efficiency is reduced. Home water softener systems are machines that tap into the household water supply and filter water as it comes through to remove calcium and magnesium, the most common minerals that cause water hardness. Home water softener systems typically consist of a brine tank and the filter. These systems are also equipped with a meter to indicate when the sodium needs to be recharged. As water moves through the machine, calcium or magnesium ions change places with “”softer”" ions as they pass through the filter. The calcium or magnesium ions stay behind, and water continues through the pipes, softened by salt.
Do You Need a water softener systems?
Executive summary about water softener systems By Pam Baldwin
You need to “soften” the water, or remove the minerals. You can either do that at the point of use, say the kitchen sink, but it often makes the most sense to soften the water as it enters your house, with a whole house water softener systems. There are two basic types of water softening systems.
The first type of system works by simply mixing salt with the incoming water. No salt water softener systems are a bit more complicated in operation. How much will it cost you to clean and maintain the various home appliances that can become clogged or stained by prolonged exposure to hard water. One option that might make the cost easier to bear is to look at combination water filter and softener system, since the benefits of clean water for drinking are much easier to appreciate.
$146.47 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping.
Use less soap, and remove scale from your pipes - continuously, automatically and for only about $5 in electricity a year. Clearwave is the most advanced computerized anti-scale device available today. Its computer chip is programmed to bombard water passing through your pipe with over 200 different electromagnetic low frequency pulses. These electromagnetic pulses have been scientifically proven to increase the electromotive attraction potential of the water to mineral salts. The result is that the mineral salts (mainly calcium bicarbonate) stays dissolved in the water instead of converting to insoluble calcium carbonate and attaching itself to the inside of pipes as scale. Existing scale in pipes, water heaters, toilets and faucets begin to soften and dissolve away. Recommended for dishwashers, washing machines, coffee makers, and boilers. Clearwave can even replace base exchange softening systems and the associated maintenance costs. Installation of the Clearwave is simple. Mount to the main incoming water pipe to the home with pipe clips, wrap the antenna leads around pipe and then plug into a 110V power supply. One unit handles incoming supply pipes up to 1" in diameter. For pipes 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" use two units in series. Works with all types of pipe including: copper, pvc, galvanized, and stainless steel. Manufacturer's part number CW-1.
Designed for 1-3 Bathrooms Homes, 10 Gallons/Minute
Guaranteed Scale Removal and Prevention
Reduced Hard Water Spotting on Your Dishes, Mirrors & Bathtubs
Perfect for Places Where Salt-based Softeners are Undesired
Conditioned Water Without the Slippery Feel
Use 50% Less Detergents for Whiter or Brighter Clothes
Increase Efficiency of Water Heater & Save Energy Expenses
Prolong Lifespan for Pipes and Home Appliances
Easy to install, No Electricity, No Drain Required
Maintenance Free, No Salt, No Backwashing
Listed Price: Sales Price:
The Revolutionary Salt-Free Water Softening Conditioner
Crystal photo taken with a electron microscope
The FUTURA Salt-Free water softener/conditioner is a new advancement in water treatment technology that softens water without the use of salt or corrosive chemicals. This system uses an advanced ceramic media that effectively attracts and neutralizes hard water properties without the need for regeneration, backwashing, or electricity. When water comes into contact with the catalytic surface of the media, hard water agents calcium (CaCO3) and magnesium become attached to the ceramic granules and are instantly converted into a scale resistant crystalline form. These crystals are harmless, neutral, heat resistant, and completely stable and will not attach to any surfaces like your pipes and heaters to cause lime deposits. When the crystals reach a size in the range of nano-meters (one billionth the size of a meter) they detach and are carried away by the water flow. These nano-crystals are relatively insoluble, effectively isolating hardness up to 25 grains/gal. (420 mg/L) from the water chemistry.
FUTURA's catalytic granules are non-sacrificial and are not consumed in the conversion process, thus resulting in its exceptional long life and durability. In effect, these systems provide many of the same benefits of a conventional water softener such as reduced soap use, scale removal, and cleaner clothes-without the troublesome maintenance, costs and pollution of salt-based systems.
You can enjoy all these benefits:
- Feel the difference of softer skin and smoother hair after every shower.
- Clothes become softer, cleaner, brighter and last longer while requiring less detergent.
- Reduced hard water spots on glasses, bathtubs, mirrors, tiles, cars, or any plumbing fixtures- makes all your cleaning and scrubbing much easier.
- Extends the life while reducing the maintenance of icemakers, coffee machines, dishwashers, water heaters, and laundry equipment.
Trusted Quality in APEC's Water Softener/Conditioner
APEC water systems are designed for performance, durability and reliability. We are one of the very few manufacturers who still insist on using NSF certified premium components made in the United States. Our durable tank, housing, and valves can withstand extreme pH and pressure changes without leaking or bursting. Our state of the art Salt-Free System is WQA certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 61 and is maintenance free for 5 years or 600,000 gallons. The Futura's catalytic granules are environmentally friendly- they do not add harmful sodium/salts into your water, while giving you the safest soft water possible.
For over 17 years, APEC has been the leading manufacturer of high performance water systems. Our systems are built to meet the most demanding applications in water treatment-- from drinking water for homes, healthcare facilities, research labs to scale free water for factories. Our durable FUTURA water conditioning systems last for decades delivering many years of soft water enjoyment and convenience to their owners.
America's Most Durable & Maintenance-Free Water Softener
No Salt or Corrosive Chemicals Needed You can finally have luxurious soft water without the salt. (or any other chemicals!) Perfect for places (states of CA, CT, TX) where salt-based softeners are banned or undesired.
No Backwashing or Regeneration No backwashing means no salty wasted water, no regeneration, and no drain to install. 100% environmentally friendly.
Guaranteed Scale Removal and Prevention Prolongs the lifespan of pipes and home appliances from clogging with calcium carbonate. Also removes existing scale that's already in your house. Much easier clean ups of hard water spotting on cars, windows, and dishes.
Cost efficient Save $100-$200 per year just on salt refill costs when compared to traditional softeners. No electricity required means no extra energy expenses. Plus, you can save up to 30% of energy expenses due to the increased efficiency of hot water heaters.
Easy Installation Compact single tank system, fits anywhere with ease. Simply connect to the main supply line of your house. Pipe in, pipe out. No time-consuming programmable controls to set and understand.
No maintenance Virtually no maintenance, no upkeep costs. This is a "set up and forget" type of system. Just change the Salt-Free softener media every 5 years or 600,000 gallons.
Known Health Benefits Traditional Ion exchange softeners produce salty water which contain high sodium content. Eliminating sodium intake can reduce health risks and improve your cardiovascular system.
Worry free Comes with a 10 year limited warranty. Receive highest quality products, expert support, lowest price and warranty directly from a first-rate manufacturer.
Whole House Filter $200 value!
Buy a FUTURA conditioner and Get a Whole House Filter for FREE!
With the addition of this whole house carbon filter system, we are upgrading your FUTURA water softeners/conditioners into a luxurious whole house water conditioning system. You now get conditioned plus clean water delivered to every faucet in your home.
APEC's whole house filter is extremely effective in removing chlorine, bad taste and odor, and organic compounds. It also helps to prolong the lifespan of your Salt-Free water softener. This is a top quality, super long lasting filter that provides high flow rate with almost no pressure drop.
Benefits of our whole house carbon filter includes:
- Improved water taste and clarity; reduced odors throughout the entire home.
- Sediment and Chlorine-Free water for healthier skin, hair and body.
- Fresh and clean water for healthy showers, baths, steam and sauna.
- Treat up to 100,000 gallons of water (1-2 years for average homes), long life and low maintenance.
The whole house filter also comes with a mounting bracket & a wrench for easy opening & closing.
Sample Whole House Water Conditioning Setup:
Recommended Complete Setup
FUTURA® Salt Free AntiScale Water Conditioner Specifications:
- Peak Flow Rate: 10 GPM
- System Capacity: Max. Hardness of 25 Grains
- Mineral Tank Dimension: 9" x 48"
- Pre-filter Dimension: 20" x 4.5"
- System Weight : 60 lbs
TIPS ON CHOOSING A SYSTEM: To assure your highest satisfaction, please choose the right size (gpm) of the softener that at least matches your household peak demand flow rate. For example, if the most water you will use is to take a shower while doing your laundry and running the dishwasher simultaneously, then your peak demand will be (3+3+3=9) 9 gpm. This means our smallest FUTURA system, rated at 10 gpm, is sufficient for you.
Typical Flow Rates for a single fixture, in Gallons per Minute (gpm)
Fixture Type Lavatory Kitchen Sink Shower Bathtub Laundry Dishwasher
Flow Rates (in gpm) 0.8-1.5 1.0-1.5 1.5-3.0 2.0-4.0 2.5-3.0 2.0-3.0
Required Operating Conditions:
- Feed Water pH: 6.0 - 9.0
- Feed Water Temperature: 41 - 120 deg F
- Max. Chlorine: 2 ppm
- Max. Iron: zero mg/L
- Max. Manganese: zero mg/L
- Hydrogen Sulfide: zero mg/L
- Oil: zero
- Copper: 1.3 mg/L
NOTE: If you have untreated well water that contains iron or sulfur odor, be sure to pre-treat with one of our whole house iron filter. We suggest installing the unit at room temperature if repeated freeze-thaw cycles occurs.
FUTURA SHIPPING METHOD: Our FUTURA Salt-Free Water Softeners are shipped via UPS Ground in high quality double walled boxes with side cushions for extra protection. Since our systems are routinely shipped all over the world, we feel it is vital that the packaging be of top quality and no expense has been spared to ensure your system arrives safely in factory fresh condition.
RO-SOFTENER Package Special
Order a Reverse Osmosis & FUTURA combo package and receive a $50 discount!
Discount: -$50 Enter the Priority Code at checkout FRD2M-50
Enjoy ultra pure reverse osmosis drinking water along with luxurious FUTURA softened water for one low price.
Our RO systems provide the most convenient and effective method of water filtration for drinking and cooking water. These filters can effectively remove 90-99% of all water contaminants including fluoride, arsenic, chromium and bacteria to provide quality water comparable to name brand bottled water. The FUTURA salt-free water softener delivers scale-free water without the use of harsh salts or chemicals. Environmentally friendly, this advanced system neutralizes calcium and magnesium to remove scale from your pipes and water appliances to deliver soft, conditioned water for your entire home.
The RO-SOFTENER combo is the perfect total-home water filtration solution for you and your family.
Futura Water Softenerer