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Author Topic: QotW - 09.04.26 - Do magnets remove lime scale from water pipes?  (Read 65417 times)

Offline Bored chemist

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About 1 part in ten million of water is ionic at normal temperatures and that falls a bit when it gets old. Ice is essentially non-ionic.
 

Offline Nacho2012

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I see you are a very polite gentleman. If surface excesses of cations and anions circulate on a moving liquid in adjacent layers they can be regarded as two streams of opposite sign electric charges. If they do so under the influence of a magnetic field, they can be forced to either separate further, preventing them to reach out to each other (thus preventing precipitation) or they can be forced to run into each other, thus promoting precipitation away from the surface of the pipe in colloidal particles and not crystallising on the surface and adhering to it(the observation by some people on the forum that they noticed turbidity but not scale). Magnetic descaling of exiting deposits may be the consequence of depleting the liquid adjacent to the deposit from calcium and carbonate ions, and displacing the equilibirum. It would seem quite a trivial consequence of the solubility model I explain there.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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water is ionic & freeze expansion is proof? Proper magnetization may work?

Water is not ionic. The expansion on freezing has been discussed at length.
magnetism doesn't work on water nor on the ions involved in making lime scale.
 

Offline techmind

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Interesting anecdote - read into it what you will.

Earlier this year I looked around some newbuild houses on an estate near me. A seen a few newbuilds over time, and these were some of the best build-quality I've seen.
When I checked out the plumbing under the sink, I discovered that they'd fitted a (permanent magnet) device around the plastic water pipe where it entered the property. This 'feature' was not advertised, nor pointed out by he sales rep. I just noticed it.
I would have thought that builders/developers would not spend money on anything that didn't benefit them in some way... do they know (or believe???) that this reduces call-outs on the boiler/heating system while the house is under the 10-year warrantee?
 

Offline Bored chemist

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water is ionic & freeze expansion is proof? Proper magnetization may work?

No  it isn't, no it isn't and no it doesn't respectively.
 

Offline CliffordK

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You would think that if these type of devices actually worked, they would give you a reasonable guarantee such as:

If the device fails to eliminate the calcium precipitation/scale problem, the company will:

  • Purchase & Install a competing Water Softener of the customer's choice at no additional charge, and
  • Replace any pipes that develop excessive restrictions due to calcium and mineral buildup, and
  • Replace any hot water heaters that have lost efficiency due to calcium buildup, and
  • Replace or repair any coffee pots/makers or teapots that have excessive calcium buildup with an equivalent device of equal or better quality, and
  • If an antique should become damaged by calcium buildup, it shall be professionally restored by the company, furthermore
  • In the event the company ceases business operations, the guarantee is underwritten by XYZ insurance company.

And, of course, having this as an open-ended guarantee, say in excess of a century, while the device is in use.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Is there something odd about this thread?
I can't see my replies.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Is there something odd about this thread?
I can't see my replies.

Odd,
I was sure I posted a reply yesterday.
And, it seemed to take a long time to post, but I thought it had gone up.
And... now it has vanished.
 ???

Anyway, my thoughts were that a company producing the calcium deposit magnets should be able to warranty the purchaser's pipes and appliances against damage due to calcium deposits, including replacing all the pipes in people's houses if there becomes a problem of excess mineral deposit in the pipes.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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I certainly posted a reply to CARCZAR's post but it seems to have vanished
Water isn't ionic.
The expansion on freezing isn't related to that fact and the ions responsible for hard water scale are not magnetic.
 

Offline CZARCAR

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I certainly posted a reply to CARCZAR's post but it seems to have vanished
Water isn't ionic.
The expansion on freezing isn't related to that fact and the ions responsible for hard water scale are not magnetic.
water aint ionic & dont expand due to ionic nature? then why does it expand upon freezing?
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Hydrogen bonding.
 

Offline CZARCAR

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thanx. i meant polar though glad to learn of H bonding.
 

Offline greenman

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I am really not sure if magnets work to remove lime scale from water pipes, but I do know that passing orange juice through a magnetic device I have for drinking liquids will allow me to drink orange juice and not have any heartburn from the acid in the juice even if it is cheap or inexpensive orange juice (it also works with wine and is supposed to work well with alcoholic beverages in general). I work for a company that manufactures an Electronic capacitor based water treatment system that absolutely does remove the scale from the pipes which is very obvious as you must open and clean any screen or filters to remove the old scale that has come off the water pipe walls. This was originally developed for the mining industry, and we have for chillers, cooling towers, evaporative coolers and heat exchangers as well as units for residential. It replaces traditional water softeners, does not add anything to the water nor does it remove anything from the water,  keeps minerals etc., in solution and does not allow to precipitate (stick to pipe walls). It still leaves the calcium on surfaces once water has evaporated, but you can simply wipe off instead of having to scrub or use chemicals to remove the scale.
 

Offline Sprool

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I was also big skeptic on this but the explanation that the magnetic field reduces the propensity to precipitate out, maybe somehow altering the way the crystals start to stack together, sounds quite plausible to me. This is lime scale I'm talking about, not Fe oxide
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_water_treatment

While it's not inconceivable that magnets could do something, basically, virtually all tests have failed to show any effect, and the ones that have, have not been independently verified.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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I was also big skeptic on this but the explanation that the magnetic field reduces the propensity to precipitate out, maybe somehow altering the way the crystals start to stack together, sounds quite plausible to me. This is lime scale I'm talking about, not Fe oxide

Well, it doesn't sound convincing to me.
Limescale isn't magnetic, nor are the ions from which it's made.
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Everything is slightly magnetic, it's not inconceivable, but it's not been proven to work.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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I was also big skeptic on this but the explanation that the magnetic field reduces the propensity to precipitate out, maybe somehow altering the way the crystals start to stack together, sounds quite plausible to me. This is lime scale I'm talking about, not Fe oxide

Well, it doesn't sound convincing to me.
Limescale isn't magnetic, nor are the ions from which it's made.

Everything is slightly magnetic, it's not inconceivable, but it's not been proven to work.

No, Not everything is magnetic. Some things are attracted to magnets, some- like water are repelled.
However it's important to remember that the effect of a magnetic field on most atoms or ions is tiny. Even the huge fields used in MRI machines only slightly  affect the protons  they image. The thermal motion knocks them back into random motion rather quickly.
The calcium ions typical of lime-scale are even more weakly affected by magnetic fields than the protons.
And, of course, these "magic" pipe-cleaners are not using huge superconducting magnets to generate a field like MRI scanners.
There si absolutely no way these things can work on lime-scale.
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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No, everything is magnetic, paramagnetic, diamagnetic, ferromagnetic etc. etc. etc.

So the question probably isn't really even whether it affects scaling, the question is whether it does it to a noticeable degree. It might even conceivably make it worse.

Most of the evidence seems to say it doesn't affect it measurably though.
 

Offline pippystardust

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I cant see how it could possibly work   If it did then surely it would only provide a limescale free band around the pipe where the magnet is...this theory was probably started by dippy hippies who think that crystals actually DO stuff that influence your life /health/happiness etc    IE complete crap !

« Last Edit: 28/03/2012 00:30:09 by pippystardust »
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Yes, I would think that as soon as it leaves the magnetic field that brownian motion and so forth would derange any alignment at all; it would decay ever-so rapidly.

I did read somewhere that somebody was getting a positive result, but that was later established to be due to them accidentally adding ions to the water, and the ions were changing the structure-they'd plumbed the gadget in wrongly and it was contaminating the water.
« Last Edit: 28/03/2012 00:35:53 by wolfekeeper »
 

Offline acecharly

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Please nobody throw anything at me...but im a plumber/GasSafe heating engineer and I fit a device called a MagnaClean, it is fitted to the heating system and not the domestic (drinking/cleaning etc) water. Its basically a pot that is cut into the heating flow pipe with a magnet in its centre. This collects debris/sludge from your radiators and is quite effective. I never install magnets on the domestic side of a water system though. I have seen them before and id say if they do  work it may be down to the magnet lining up the positive and negative ions up so as they dont attract one another although how slow the water would have to run or strong the magnet would have to be for this to be effective im unsure.
 

Offline daveshorts

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Nothing wrong with using a magnet to collect ferrous metals fragments and associated sludge, that would damage a pump, or gum up your system, that makes sense... this is very different from using it to 'soften water'.
 

Offline SeanB

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I use magnetic plugs to remove ferrous debris from oil in pumps and compressors, as they then are not going to cause any further damage. Generally I get a light coating every few months of operation, pretty much normal, caused by wear of the cast iron bores.
 

Offline Tunsarod

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I was sceptical about this; 45 years making a living in the electromagnetic and electronics world and I figured it was a load of codswallop. In the last three years I have been repairing a variety of laundry and kitchen equipment in a hard water area and without a doubt, where these things are fitted, be they electro-magetic or just magnets, they make a difference. As was said ealier, you still get limescale but it's softer and easy to remove. It must be something to do with the calcium molecules lining up with each other. The same argument is applied to the idea of magnets applied to fuel lines though I do not have any experience of that application.   
 

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