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Hard water has a high concentration of minerals, and of these calcium salts are the most troublesome. But there is a solution coming in form of a cheap diy water softener system built with the well-known 555 IC. Actually the price of this diy system is so low that even if this doesn’t work you won’t be upset.

The working principle of the water softener is based on a theory from 1930 which states that an electromagnetic or electric field causes small crystals of calcium carbonate in the water to join together to form larger crystals.

One of the methods to obtain a strong magnetic field is to put a powerful magnet (2.5 gauss) near the water pipe. The second method is the electronic one. Studying a water filter purchased from stores we found that it produces a frequency of about 15 kHz at an amplitude of 15V.

Schematic of the Water Softener Circuit

cheap diy water softener system circuit schematic

UPDATE: If the water pipe is metallic then connect the open ends of the coils to the pipe, or if it is made of plastic connect each open end with a conductive wire (copper).

Extension: water softener power indicator

The values of the coils are not known, but my guess is L1 has 9 turns and L2 has 7 turns. Actually you should consider this circuit as a theoretical one.

Therefore this water softener system uses one 555 IC to obtain a rectangular signal that is applied to the water pipe by wrapping two coils with one open ending around it. The coils must have good isolation. Make sure to power the water softener from a isolated power supply because in some areas the water pipes are connected to ground.

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48 Responses to "DIY Water Softener System"

1. Alexei says:

I have voted “I will try it and give an answer afterwards” but I think it cannot work because the coils cannot produce a magnetic field with their ending opened. But I will give it a try in my free time, it is a fun project.

• S.O. FL says:

Dear Alexei,
Why open circuits of coils which are connected conductive pipe or open ends together on plastic pipe. You must have the reference paper. We must know the required strength of agnetic field strength or electrical field. Both of them are not separated each other. If you have rod antenna, one side open and other side connected front end of the reciever or broadcast power source. The coil wrapped around is just impedance matching. So open end is not fatal mistake at all. If you are an Electrical engineer, you can understand antena and matching circuit. If you have any questions, please let me know. Elecgrical engineer’s comments from S.O. Regards.

2. sambi says:

Voted: will not work.
I’m not sure if pin 1 of the IC provides a square signal, but I’m sure that it won’t work because:
1) The coils are only connected from one side therefor no current will pass thru, and no magnetic field will be produced. (as Alexei mentioned above).
2) Even if the coils were connected properly, the 555 cannot provide a current high enough to produce the powerful field required for the reaction.

3. C.Mitra says:

I fully agree with the two comments above. To produce a magnetic field, an electric current is required to flow through a coil of conducting wire, that is basic physics. And as per the theory and principle mentioned in the article, a magnetic field is required for the system to work.
Secondly, even if the circuit is completed, the current flowing through the coil will be in milliamperes producing a very weak magnetic field. It is highly improbable that such a weak field will be able to crystallize all the calcium and magnesium salts present in the water. There is no documented proof that this circuit actually works.

• darkbluejpn says:

You could not understand E-M wave. They are not separate each other. Would you please study ABC of electromagnetic therory? You are too much practical to argue fundamental electro-magnetic field. I don’t like to give you this kind comments but these are very important fundamental starting point. DC to super high frequency electical magnetic fields are not separated each other. Only permanent magnet can produce pure magnetic field and static electric charge can make electrical field.

• Jane James says:

A bunch of fancy-sounding baloney. There is no proof this thing works. Obvious clue: “even if this doesn’t work you won’t be upset.” That gives away the scam.

• heisalsogmail-com says:

It’s amusing. Many of us in grade school learned how to make an electro magnet with a coil of copper wire around a nail and DC (Direct Current) usually from a 9V battery. A signal with a frequency is AC (alternating current) by definition, and the article specifically says 15kHz. Even on an open wire, it will induce some electromagnetic field, and the strength of that field will depend on several factors like frequency, the absolute length of the wire, the tightness of the wrap (spacing along the bar/pipe) and diameter of the coil, number of wraps, not to mention any interference from a ground plain (solid metal plate) or other sources of radio waves, and more.

And there is no indication how much magnetic force is required to reduce scaling, and whether or not it’s a property that changes at a specific threshold (once the field is strong enough, there’s no more scaling) or if it’s analog where the effect is stronger as the magnetic field gets stronger (probably what most people expect).

4. s1ow says:

Assuming it does work where does the larger debris end up? Clogging faucets and shower heads.. thumbs down for this one..

• heisalsogmail-com says:

In theory, larger but still insignificant. Which would mean no clogging. The key is that the ionization that causes it to cling together with like molecules prevents it from clinging to dissimilar molecules like in your shower head and faucets. There is also no indication that they will even precipitate out, rather, it seems evident that they will stay in solution and pass through your system (down the drain) before the ionization effect wares off.

5. beachmezz says:

Is there any evidence that this will work? Some sort of reverse electrolysis of the water/calcium seems more
likely to work the same principle as electrostripping.

6. Chinmoy Mitra says:

Sir, please remove this joker circuit from here. There is no doubt that this is not going to work, so why keep it here? No ill feelings, but all the comments above point to the truth. Thanks

• I will try it just to see if it works 😉 If it doesn’t then I will place it in the NOT WORKING section!

• C.Mitra says:

Thanks a lot for considering my request
But I would still request you not to waste your precious time in trying out something which I am 100% sure is not going to work 😀 (I am judging it from my 35-40 years of experience in practical electronics)
Thanks once again.

• Ok, I will leave it in a draft list and test it when I get bored

• TTs says:

daca nu merge de ce insisti? mai bine construiesti un perpetuum mobile, ai mai multe sanse sa reusesti… sau mai bine pui magneti pe teava, macar aia nu consuma curent electric

• darkbluejpn says:

I could not run 100 meter within 10 seconds even 100 years practice and experience. Study hard, you could find solution within one week. Please reconsider attacking others based with your experience. I know my experience is limited so I could not rule out any possiblity. darkbluejpn

• darkbluejpn says:

Do not remove. This is a starting point for working device. If electromagnetic field is not strong enough, you must make stronger. Rod antena is not strong enough, make higher voltage. To make impedance matching, change operating frequency and turning number of coil. You could find solutions any conditions. If you need or better devices, never give up. Engineer/scientist will always find solutions. Although cemical reaction required only few voltage, you must have more power for the device. darkbluejpn

• Jane James says:

Yes. It’s bogus. Why else would he say, “even if this doesn’t work you won’t be upset.”

7. Argiman1 says:

Come on, if theory is correct, not only electromagnetic field cause this result but also electric field. “The working principle of the water softener is based on a theory from 1930 which states that an electromagnetic or electric field causes small crystals of calcium carbonate in the water to join together to form larger crystals.”. This circuit produce a very weak electric field, I think it is not strong enough. Maybe thousands of volts …

8. If this works, the mineral buildup inside the pipe should eventually cut off water flow –I am skeptical –someone dissect your plumbing and publish the results –the minerals must go somewhere. Check out this link –if it works, we are in the wrong business.

http://www.amazon.com/Clearwave-Electronic-Water-Softener-System/dp/B00080HR9E

and check out the many reviews…

9. wildman says:

I can not comment of the strength or viability of the circuit.

However, regarding the way these devices function, it is my understanding that they do not ‘remove’ minerals from the water, but rather influences the magnetic alignment of the molecules in such a way that they seek to follow one another with the flow of water…

You’ve probably seen this experiment in elementary school science class…

Lay several stick type magnets on small individual pieces of wood, with the north and south end of the magnet slightly overhanging the edge of the wood and float them on water. Once you have a number of magnets floating, drag one near enough another for the magnetic fields to react… eventually you can have a string of magnets lined up in a train like fashion…

(Yes I realize they can cluster if you allow that and the above was just to help give a visual, there is more to the equation which explained below.)

While this example is a bit over simplified the component which I have yet to explain is that provided the current is NOT reversed, the electromagnetic field which is wrapped around the pipe will always maintain the same North/South (+/-) orientation. In theory what will happen as the force of the water flows through the pipe the mineral molecules will seek to align and flow as if strings/trains in the water.

The theory behind these devices has never been ‘disproved’ which is why these type devices can still be sold in the USA. However, they can NOT be called water softeners, but are labeled as scale removers.

10. C.Mitra says:

Very interesting explanation from wildman. But “magnetic alignment” of minerals in water? I have got an interesting idea for an experiment. Dissolve any salt, can be calcium carbonate or sodium chloride or whatever, in water to make a saturated solution. Place this water in a glass trough or maybe a test tube. Apply a very strong magnetic filed to this solution to “magnetically Align” all the molecules. With the magnetic field in place, subject the solution to very low temperature in a refrigerator until the solution freezes. Since all the magnetically aligned molecules are aligned in one direction, now this solid frozen solution should behave like a permanent magnet! Magnetic Ice! Brilliant.
Now for your comment ” provided the current is NOT reversed”, the circuit above is basically an oscillator producing pulses of current which reverse in direction about 15000 times every second. So your theory does not work in the present situation.
Please correct me if I am wrong.

• dhiraj says:

You sir are too modest to call ullekhit on this circuit so let me do it I think people in support of this facade have never been exposed to even high school physics

11. aldoemilio says:

this project http://www.researchinventy.com/papers/v1i3/I013039042.pdf has some results from tests on apparently similar prototype.

12. Gary says:

I remember the product and the items on sale in the late 60’s and 70’s A box fitted with three A cells and two terminals linked together with a 15 inch length of wire and it pulsed a 100 Hz signal at 15 ma through the wire that was supposed to be wrapped around the riseing main in the house “even if it was Iron”! and align all the salt molecule ‘domains’ tests in the lab using titrated solutions from 1 part in 100,00,000 to 1 in 100 and field strengths varying from nil to intense from a 100 turn coil and passing a current from 100 uA to 80 Amps, all at frequency’s from 100 hz to 5 Khz (the max frequency that the shaker table amplifier was stable into the coil) and over two terms of collage with a group of students only gave a positive answer with a >0.50% saturation level.
The little circuit above looks like it runs at 2.9 Khz into a very small coil that’s open circuit even if it was a complete coil gives a current around 60 ma
I think it has as much chance of working as a chocolate kettle!

13. beachmezz says:

I do not believe this circuit can work as the coil is not a complete circuit therefore no magnetic field. Ii coil is an antenna the resulting field would be microscopic and unable to penetrate the water pipe

14. Just a small update on the circuit: connect both ends of the coil to the water pipe if it is metallic or with use a copper wire if the pipe is made of plastic or other non-conductive materials.

15. Girdhar Gupta says:

Treated water has to be stored in a storage tank so as the Calcium build up settles there and the tank is cleaned periodically.
The softened water is used from the Tank.

16. Richard Chapman says:

From what I see of photos of commercial units, number of coils on either side are equal. 6 or 7 turns.

A sediment filter will probably remove calcium carbonate crystals. Sediment filters are available down to 5 microns. (I would use the readily available and cheap 20 micron filter followed by the more expensive 5 micron filter. Hopefully the 20 micron filter will remove most of the larger calcium carbonate crystals.)

circuit notes: (page 3)
4.Number of turns of inductor wire at positive output = 77
5.Number of turns of inductor wire at the ground = 75
6.The gauge of the wire used for inductor = SWG32

• Chinmoy Mitra says:

The article which your link points to is the best example of tomfoolery and bullshit I have ever seen. Anybody in his senses will loose his mental balance if he seriously reads it.
The author has cut and pasted a lot of electronic jargon in the article to impress the gullible public.

The introduction is in itself an example of utter nonsense….quote “Water is an odourless, tasteless and colourless or transparent liquid. It has a bluish tint, which may be detected in layers of considerable depth only”. Do you consider this an intorduction to a scientific paper?

Further, he announces a couple of very important characteristics of water….”Under standard atmospheric pressure (760 mm Hg) the freezing point of water is 0 degrees Centigrade and its boiling point is 100 degrees centigrade. Water attains its maximum density at a temperature of 4 degrees and thence expands upon freezing (Nelkon, 1994).” This, I think, is taught in primary school. He has even gone to the extent of giving a reference to some “Nelcon, 1994” to make it all look so authentic!

Even the circuit schematic is incomplete and illegible. A cursory glance at the article may give the feeling it is a scientific paper, but in depth study shows it is simply crap! It is beyond my comprehension how such an article got printed in a scientific journal.

17. Richard Chapman says:

Also from the article:

The coils are open ended. Apparently, the coils behave as a capacitor.

The article also states that the coils are insulated to prevent electrical contact with the pipes. So it is apparent a metal water pipe was used.

Whether plastic pipes can be used can easily be tested using the water-hardness-testing method described in the article. If plastic pipe doesn’t work, a section of copper pipe can easily be fitted into a plastic plumbing system.

• Richard Chapman says:

RE: “Apparently, the coils behave as a capacitor” or antenna.

This circuit does not create a magnetic field: it creates an electric field.

From other research I did, it seems that the length of the inductor wires are what is important, not the number of turns. Therefore, 77 turns on a 1″ (2.57cm)od pipe = 20’2″ and 75 turns = 19’7½”. Number of turns will vary for larger or smaller pipe.

• C.Mitra says:

Richard Chapman
Your wise and confident comments show that you have really studied this circuit very deeply, and you must have done a lot of practical experiments with it. The figures 20’2″ and 19’71/2″ seems a bit too much to digest! What happens if you increase the lengths by say half an inch? Or decrease by one inch? You must have tabulated all the results with the corresponding change in the deposition of calcium and magnesium molecules, most probably taking the help of chemical analysis? I would be grateful to you if you publish all the data for the benefit of the readers.
As of my opinion, this circuit is crap!
Is there ANYONE OUT THERE, who has ACTUALLY made the circuit and found out that it REALLY WORKS? Please come forward.
Thanks everybody.

18. Richard Chapman says:

RE: “Apparently, the coils behave as a capacitor” or antenna.

This circuit does not create a magnetic field: it creates an electric field.

From other research I did, it seems that the length of the inductor wires are what is important, not the number of turns. Therefore, 77 turns on a 1″ (2.57cm)od pipe = 20’2″ and 75 turns = 19’7½”. Number of turns will vary for larger or smaller pipe.

19. Gary says:

Further the tests I carried out with a range of flux density’s and frequency’s (Using Glass,rubber,Copper,Iron pipes)(Feb 4 2014) have a look at
> http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1225271/ http://www.ecaa.ntu.edu.tw/weifang/water/Biologica%20effects%20of%20physically%20conditioned%20water.pdf <

** NOTE lines 5&6 page 1 ** & also 'materials and methods' on page 3 and reference to the“Water King'' WK1 conditioner

If pipe is Copper or Iron an "E" field will not penetrate it and if it is an Iron pipe a "M" field will not penetrate it

20. rocky says:

Hi,

Every one here only cracking each other but no body iz caring to build this one, so i decided to do this my self. then i will post the output, thank u

• C.Mitra says:

Hi rocky
The fact of the matter is that this circuit CAN NOT work!
Richard Chapman says “This circuit does not create a magnetic field: it creates an electric field.” Imagine an electric field created by a few milliamps of current in a tiny little piece of wire (the wise guys talk about 75 turns, 19’7½” etc hahahhaa)removing dissolved salts in RUNNING water THROUGH A THICK METAL PIPE! How absurd can this get?
Wish you best of luck for building this circuit, please do post your experience once you try it.

21. rocky says:

http://www.researchinventy.com/papers/v1i3/I013039042.pdf

22. Curi says:

rocky,
the pdf link you posted is the same one posted previously by Mr Chapman.
That really isnt any help in attempting to assess your personal success or failure using this idea. Did you actually try building this or not?

The closing of the wire coil ends seemed clear, just from reading the original post in this topic, so Im not sure where the comments about the open ends came from. When I started reading comments that confused me so I went back and read the original post again, but the closing of the coil ends is described there.

We use well water here, but the levels of mineral and metal particulates in the water make it unpottable. Financial contraints make it unfeasable to treat the water using mass produced purification systems..so we’re searching for the means of building our own treament facilities very cheaply. We’ll need to “soften” and filter the water removing the large limestone (calcium )and iron particles before anything else is done to it…we’re investigating ideas like this one very seriously.

Gary,
Im reading the paper you posted now.

23. Ehsan says:

Surely this circuit work. the two coils and the water act as a transformer. However i have build a better circuit. it is working in my home (i have no explicit results yet). i connect the pin 3 by a 100ohm resistot to Base of a pnp and npn transistors that are common in their emitters. collectors are connected to vcc and gnd. the emitters’ node then is connected to a 25uf capacitor series with a 10ohm resistor series with a 50 turns coil that is arround the pipe. the end of the coil in connected to GND. the coil is near 0.025uH. the voltage across the 10 ohm resistors is a square wave between -1.2 and 1.2 volts resulting a 120mA current passing through coil. i am waiting for result!

• Chinmoy Mitra says:

Ehsan
Please keep waiting for results! You will never get any results from this crap! Good luck

24. Eugen says:

Es ist reine Zeitverschwendung, diesen Versuch nachzubauen.
Ähm ..Magnetfeld contra Mineralentsalzung- durch ein Kupferrohr
ist totaler Blödsinn. Ab zur Garbage Collection.

25. Double EE says:

Come on Guys, don’t you know you will need a muffler bearing with which will allow the electric field to rotate until it creates an electromagnetic field around the cast iron pipe. This field will not be affected by the iron due to it being tied up with some shore line. You will need 14.96734 meters of shore line to complete the job. This line can be found near the ocean. You could use a smoke grinder to cut down the pipe so the bearing fits well. On the working model, a 4000 F capacitor was required. It was found to be much to large to be manufactured by a local provider so it had to be constructed from raw materials. I used an ion phase atom disruptor to fuse the mercury oxide into an insulator to be wrapped around the pipe to get a perfect resonance through the circuit which will contaminate anything it contacts. So with this amount of stupidity involved, I got me a good cold drink of bottled water. Come on guys, don’t be stupid.

• Sam Star says:

I totally agree with you, this is the exact way it should be done, or we’ll never be able to achieve any useful outcome.

• Chinmoy Mitra says:

Hahahahaaaaa…..
Double EE is a genius! You have summarised this whole stupid pseudo project in one paragraph. Hats off to you!

26. Twinkle Bettery says:

Im just passing by till I realized what this article is about. Seriously someone tell me if any of the above commenters especially the original poster has taken a college class in general chemistry and organic chemistry. This whole saltless water softener stuff with trying to induce an magnetic field in moving water is smoke and mirrors. I’ve been in chemistry lab doing experiments with resin exchange material and it works far better as a separator on the atomic level than an magnetic field. Even if this device were to work, water is going to after other metals to replace the calcium it lost because pure, decriminalized water will go after metals. Its the reason bottled water contains minerals. Show me the physics of how calcium particles in moving water passing through a magnetic field will cause them to clump together. Magnetic fields can only be made if you have a changing electrical feild as both are related to how much current is going through the wire as explained in Maxwell’s equation. Plus the schematic shows whole system runs on direct current. How is the two coils from from the node to pin 1 and pin 3 of the 555 timer going create a magnetic field? Show me the wave form the oscilloscope for L1 and L2 of this schematic. I probably bet it would not show a sine wave. The 555 timer chip can’t even run on AC electricity which gives a changing electrical field which also gives a changing magnetic field. TL:DL; Stop with the saltless water softener cause the physics proves it will never work. Get yourself a real water softener with the resin exchange material and call it a day.

27. argi says:

Please, for another time, check the circuit.
There is not any electromagnet field, the output of 555 is on the “air”. It produces only electric pulses. If theory is correct pulsing electric field “cause” something to water. We have only switching voltage potential difference.

28. Howard says:

Whether this works or not this is a “BIG” money industry. http://www.homedepot.com/p/ScaleBlaster-Deluxe-0-19-gpg-Electronic-Water-Conditioner-SB-175/203600634#product_description

I was going to make one of these using a 555 timer driving a Flip-Flop which then would drive an MOSFET H-bridge to utilize the low channel resistance of the MOSFET’s.

I find it hard to believe this works. I assume the principle is to De-magnetize the polar minerals so they wont bond to surfaces. My issue is that if water is left sitting IE on Sink or the bottom of the Shower when it evaporates it will leave the minerals behind.

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