Water Softener Remove Manganese

Do Water Softeners Remove Manganese?

If you have manganese in your water supply, you may be wondering if a water softener can remove this problematic mineral. With manganese levels on the rise in many areas, this is an important question for homeowners dealing with manganese staining, taste and odor issues.

The short answer is no, standard water softeners do not remove manganese from water. However, there are water softener systems available that can reduce manganese when used in combination with filtration media.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using water softeners for manganese removal, including:

  • What is Manganese and Why Remove It?
  • How Do Water Softeners Work?
  • Do Water Softeners Remove Manganese?
  • Water Softener Alternatives for Manganese Removal
  • Choosing the Right Water Softener System
  • Maintaining Your Water Softener for Optimal Performance
  • The Cost of Water Softeners for Manganese Removal
  • Water Softener Benefits Beyond Manganese Removal
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s start with an overview of manganese and why it needs to be removed from your water.

What is Manganese and Why Remove It?

Manganese (Mn) is a naturally occurring mineral found in rocks, soil and groundwater. Manganese levels as low as 0.05 mg/L can cause black staining and undesirable tastes in water.

Common problems caused by manganese include:

  • Black buildup on fixtures and surfaces – Manganese causes stubborn black stains on clothes, plumbing fixtures and appliances.
  • Metallic taste – Manganese gives water a bitter, metallic taste, even at low levels.
  • Discolored water – Higher manganese concentrations can give water a dark black color.
  • Clogged pipes and fixtures – Manganese deposits can restrict water flow and clog pipes over time.

In addition to staining and odor issues, manganese can also pose health risks when elevated in drinking water. The EPA secondary drinking water standard recommends manganese be limited to 0.05 mg/L.

Excess manganese is associated with:

  • Neurological effects like slowed motor function and decreased intelligence in children.
  • Increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Toxicity for infants.

With the potential staining, taste and health issues caused by manganese, it’s recommended to remove manganese from household water to improve quality.

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How Do Water Softeners Work?

Now that we’ve covered why manganese should be removed, let’s look at what water softeners do and how they work.

Water softeners are designed to remove hardness minerals like calcium and magnesium. They do this through a process called ion exchange.

Inside a water softener is a resin bed made up of small plastic beads called resin or zeolite. These beads carry a negative charge.

As hard water passes through the softener, the positive calcium and magnesium ions bind to the negatively charged resin beads. This exchanges the hardness minerals for sodium ions, softening the water.

After this ion exchange process, the resin bed becomes saturated with calcium and magnesium. It needs to be periodically recharged and regenerated.

Regeneration flushes the resin bed with a salt brine solution, which resets the ion exchange capacity. The hardness minerals are washed away to drain.

So in summary:

  • Water softeners use ion exchange to bind and remove calcium and magnesium ions.
  • This exchanges hardness minerals for sodium, softening the water.
  • The resin bed needs to be regenerated with salt to maintain the ion exchange capacity.

This process effectively reduces water hardness. However, water softeners are not designed to remove other minerals like manganese.

Do Water Softeners Remove Manganese?

Standard water softeners do not remove dissolved manganese.

The ion exchange process exchanges calcium and magnesium for sodium. It does not filter or oxidize manganese.

Water softeners are also ineffective at removing manganese because:

  • Manganese remains dissolved. Unlike hardness minerals, manganese stays dissolved in water and does not bind well to the resin.
  • Manganese has a different charge. Manganese ions carry a +2 charge. They will not readily exchange with sodium ions.
  • The resin bed is not designed for manganese removal. Standard softening resins have a high affinity for calcium and magnesium, but allow manganese to pass through.

While water softeners do not remove manganese, there are some systems capable of reducing manganese when used in combination with filtration media. We’ll cover these alternative water softener systems next.

Water Softener Alternatives for Manganese Removal

If you need to remove both hardness and manganese, a water softener alone is insufficient. However, certain systems that combine softening with filtration or oxidation can reduce manganese levels.

Here are a few water softener alternatives capable of manganese removal:

Manganese Greensand Filtration

Greensand is a purple-black filter media that oxidizes soluble manganese and removes it through physical filtration. When combined with a water softener, a greensand filter can reduce hardness and manganese in one system.

The softener handles hardness removal, while the greensand filter oxidizes and absorbs manganese. This process requires anoxidizing agent like chlorine or potassium permanganate to regenerate the manganese greensand.

Catalytic Carbon Filtration

Catalytic carbon is an improved type of activated carbon designed to adsorb heavy metals like manganese. When combined with a water softener system, the softener removes hardness while the carbon filter adsorbs manganese.

The carbon needs to be reactivated periodically using a chemical or thermal process. Manganese will saturate the carbon over time and reduce its adsorptive capacity.

Oxidizing Filters

Oxidizing filters like chlorinators or potassium permanganate feed systems can be used with a water softener to transform manganese into an insoluble form that can be filtered.

The oxidizer converts dissolved manganese into solid manganese dioxide. This can then be removed by a sediment filter or greensand media bed.

Choosing the Right Water Softener System

If your water contains both manganese and hardness minerals, look for a softener combined with greensand or catalytic carbon filtration.

When shopping for water softeners capable of manganese removal, keep these tips in mind:

  • Look for systems with integrated filtration media – Softener tanks that include layers of manganese greensand or catalytic carbon are more effective for manganese removal.
  • Choose larger resin beds – Extended contact time improves manganese reduction. Opt for larger resin tanks when possible.
  • Select quality resin types – Strong acid cation exchange resins designed for iron and manganese removal perform better than standard softening resins.
  • Check regenerant used – Potassium permanganate is more effective than sodium chloride for regenerating greensand media.
  • Consider an oxidizer – An oxidizing pre-filter converts manganese into an easier to remove form.

Also make sure to size your system appropriately based on water usage, household size, and the manganese concentration. Your water treatment professional can help select the right softener and filters for effective manganese removal.

Maintaining Your Water Softener for Optimal Performance

To keep your water softener performing optimally, especially when used for manganese removal, proper maintenance is essential.

Here are some tips for maintaining your softener system:

  • Regenerate regularly – Regenerate as recommended by the manufacturer to wash accumulated mineral deposits from the resin and reactivate filtration media.
  • Check salt levels – Make sure salt brine tank always has adequate salt. Add salt pellets as needed.
  • Replace filters – Replace any sediment filters and carbon blocks as recommended.
  • Clean brine tank – Periodically clean salt residue out of the brine tank to prevent buildup.
  • Test water – Testincoming and treated water a few times per year to ensure adequate contaminant reduction.
  • Inspect resin – Check resin bed for fouling annually and clean or replace resin as needed.
  • Hire professionals – Have the system serviced by qualified technicians for media replacements and disinfections.

Following the manufacturer’s instructions for regeneration frequency, parts replacement, and maintenance is crucial for proper operation.

The Cost of Water Softeners for Manganese Removal

The cost for a water softener system capable of manganese removal ranges from $2,000 to $5,000 installed. Exact costs depend on:

  • Water softener size – Larger units or two-tank systems cost more.
  • Added filtration media – Greensand, carbon filters and oxidizers increase costs.
  • System automation – More automated softeners have a higher price.
  • Installation – Complex installations or plumbing modifications add expense.
  • Maintenance – Media replacements and servicing need ongoing investment.

While water softeners with manganese removal have a higher upfront cost, they prevent stains and scale buildup that can cost thousands in plumbing repairs. And they improve water quality and avoid potential health effects.

Investing in the right system saves you headaches and hassles in the long run.

Water Softener Benefits Beyond Manganese Removal

In addition to reducing manganese, water softeners provide many other benefits:

  • Prevents scale buildup – With less calcium and magnesium, softeners prevent hard water scale in pipes, appliances and fixtures.
  • Removes existing scale – Softeners dissolve and wash away existing scale and deposits over time.
  • Saves cleaning time – Eliminates spots, film and soap scum buildup on surfaces, cutting cleaning time.
  • Prolongs appliance life – Scale damages and reduces the lifespan of water heaters, washing machines and other equipment.
  • Improves lathering – Soap and detergents lather better with softened water.
  • Leaves laundry cleaner – Eliminates mineral stains and residue on clothes.
  • Enhances water taste – Removes metallic tastes caused by hardness minerals.
  • Leaves skin and hair softer – Softened water leaves skin and hair feeling smoother and softer.

Considering all the benefits beyond manganese removal, a water softener system can be a worthwhile investment for improving overall water quality in your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I just use a manganese water filter without a softener?

Yes, you can use manganese removal filters without a softener if you do not have water hardness issues. Media like manganese greensand work well to remove manganese only.

However, the advantage of pairing it with a softener is that you can treat both manganese and hardness with one system.

What level of manganese can a water softener remove?

Most water softeners with added manganese filtration can reduce manganese levels by up to 1-2 mg/L. Higher concentrations may require pre-oxidation or a more intensive system.

How often do you need to regenerate a water softener removing manganese?

When used for manganese removal, water softeners typically need to be regenerated more frequently – often at least twice per week. Frequent regenerations help purify filtration media and maintain capacity.

Can I install a water softener for manganese removal myself?

It is not recommended to install these specialized systems yourself unless you have prior experience installing water softeners. Manganese removal systems have additional parts and controls that are best handled by a water treatment professional.

Are salt-free water softeners effective for manganese removal?

Salt-free water softeners use technologies like magnetic or electrical field conditioning to reduce hardness. However, they are generally not effective methods for removing manganese. Stick with salt-based ion exchange softeners with manganese filtration media.

The Bottom Line

While standard water softeners do not remove manganese, specialized systems that combine softening with greensand or carbon filtration can reduce levels.

If you need to treat both hardness and manganese, consider investing in one of these water softener alternatives. Correct sizing, installation and maintenance will be key to ensuring optimal performance.

Although the upfront cost is higher, removing manganese ultimately saves expenses from stain removal, plumbing repairs and potential health effects. And you get all the added benefits of conditioned water.

Water softening paired with the right manganese filtration provides a convenient way to improve your overall water quality. Removing both hardness and manganese results in better tasting water, prevents accumulations in pipes and appliances, eliminates stains, and avoids potential health risks – providing cleaner, safer water throughout your home.

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