Science Questions

Can magnets on pipes soften water?

Wed, 4th Sep 2013

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Ali Al Shaqsi asked:



I was planning to buy a scale remover that works using magnet, but I wanted to find out whether you thought it would be effective.

If not, what do you advise me use to remove scale inside pipelines of home?



Ali Al Shaqsi

Sultanet of Oman



Laura - I have to say I'm pretty unconvinced by these claims. I have sort of fridge magnetlooked at it. I've tried to work out what the magnets could be doing. We have to think about what hard water is. Itís mainly calcium and other minerals dissolved. There's a tiny amount of iron in there that could be affected by the magnets, but I just can't quite see what could be happening there.

Dave - And even the iron is it in a form which is actually magnetic?

Laura - Yes, and most of it is in unmagnetic form so itís in one of the electronic configurations that isnít actually magnetically sort of active.

Chris - So weíll be giving that one the thumbs down.

Laura - Weíre giving that one the thumbs down. Water filters and things I think instead.

Ginny - There's probably an element of placebo effect here, in that, if you've bought a gadget and youíve put it on your pipes and you drink the waterÖ

Chris - Placebos for pipes.

Ginny - It probably does taste different to you or you possibly think, ďOh, yes!  My kettle is not furring up as quickly as it used toĒ, but itís likely to just be the placebo effect that you think because youíve done something, something is going to happen.

Chris - But equally, you're hardly likely to cut into the water main, just to have a look and see if itís furred up, are you? So, I think itís very likely that most people just go, ďAlright, I assume itís working.Ē Itís sort of as you say, you feel happy about it because you think youíve done something when in fact, actually haven't probably done anything. So, the conclusion of the panel here, everybody, if I speak for you by saying, you're saying, donít waste your money.  Would that be a reasonable summary?

Laura - Iíd say, pretty much, yeah.


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I put a permanent magnet 'scale remover' (not an electromagnet) on my inlet pipe many moons ago because the water here in north Kent is so hard, but it had no discernable effect on scaling. After a year or so, I installed a block salt water softener, and the effects were immediate and life-enhancing (particularly in terms of washing & cleaning)! dlorde, Sun, 28th Jul 2013

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