If you fail to winterize your swimming pool before the cold season sets in, your pool water will freeze to form ice. Frozen pool water will damage important components of your swimming pool, including the filtration system, pump, etc. thus rendering the entire pool ineffective.
When your pool water freezes, can you use a water softener to melt ice? This article will answer this and other concerns related to melting ice.
What Is Water Softening Salt?
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Water-softening salt is the salt used to soften or treat hard water. Water becomes hard if it has high levels of mineral contaminants like calcium, which is known to damage household items, plumbing fittings, and pipes, and cause serious health issues in humans. Salt is an important consumable part of a water-softening system.
This salt is added to a water purifier to cause the exchange of ions. During this exchange, the mineral contaminants in the water are exchanged with sodium ions in the salt thus flushing out the minerals out. The water becomes soft and usable once all the hard minerals have been flushed out.
Before you start using water-softening salt in your house, check whether your water is hard or soft. This is important because you only need the softening salt if your water is hard. Some regions are known to have water with higher mineral concentrations than others. For example, some American states record between 200 and 350 milligrams of hard minerals in a liter of water.
So, have your water tested by professionals to determine the level of hard mineral concentration in it. You can also know whether your water is too hard by observing some unique characteristics in your water like hard water blemishes in your shower or bathtub, murkiness in your tap water, and inefficient household fixtures like the washing machine, dishwasher, etc. You can get water-softening salt from various sources, including hardware stores, gas stations, grocery stores, and water-softening companies.
Water purification companies will deliver the salt to you and reload it whenever they come to inspect your water-softening system. The safest source of water-softening salt is your local water purification company because they know where to source the best quality salt.
When you get your water softening salt from your water purifier servicing company, you’ll enjoy many other benefits, including maintenance of your water purifier, replenishing of your water softening system, and reduced cost of water softening salt. Your water purifier will need to be replenished after a week or two depending on its usage. This salt comes in two main forms: crystal and pellet.
Can You Use Water Softening Salt to Melt Ice?
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As noted above, winterizing your pool at the start of winter is the best way to prevent your pool water from freezing. But if you forget to carry out this important task and your pool water turns into ice, there are several effective ways to melt the ice. One of these ice-melting techniques is the use of water-softening salt.
This salt has properties that decrease the melting point of water, causing the ice to melt quickly. Previously, this salt was used in salt removal, but today it has turned out to be a great way to melt ice in frozen swimming pools, driveways, etc.
How It Works
Water freezes at 32 degrees F. So, when the temperature in your swimming pool drops to or below 32 degrees F., the hydrogen bonds between water molecules are strengthened, causing them to form a crystalline structure. This structure turns liquid water into ice.
Conversely, when the temperature in your swimming pool rises above 32 degrees, the bonds holding the H2O molecules together are broken down, causing the crystalline structure to become liquid. So, the water softening salt (sodium chloride) works by dropping the freezing point of your pool water, causing the ice to turn into liquid, even when the temperature in your pool drops below the normal freezing point.
When you add salt to your frozen swimming pool, it dissolves into separate sodium and chloride ions. These ions can effectively disrupt the bonds holding water molecules together to form ice. So, the ions will slowly weaken the hydrogen molecule bonds, turning the ice into water.
However, the sodium chloride staple becomes weak when the temperature in your swimming pool drops to or below 15 degrees. Therefore, you’ll need to apply water-softening salt that has been specifically designed for lower temperatures. Choose water-softening salt that has magnesium chloride (MgCI2) or calcium chloride (CaCI2).
MgCI2 and CaCI2 have three ions, while ordinary sodium chloride salt has two ions. The more ions the salt has, the higher the melting power it has. More ions help to disrupt hydrogen molecule bonds more rapidly thus increasing the ice melting speed.
How Long Does Water Softening Salt Take to Melt Ice?
The time it takes for your water-softening salt to melt ice in your swimming pool depends on the temperature of the water and the quality of your salt. The condition and type of your swimming pool also determine the speed with which the salt will melt the frozen water. As mentioned above, water-softening salt lowers the freezing point of ice, making it hard for the hydrogen molecule bonds to form.
Therefore, if you want the ice in your swimming pool to melt quickly, you have to choose high-quality water-softening salt. The best water-softening salt for melting ice in your pool is the one that contains calcium chloride or magnesium chloride because it has more ions to help break down the hydrogen molecule bonds faster.
Word of Caution
Even as you use water-softening salt to melt ice in your swimming pool, you need to use it cautiously to avoid having too much salt in your pool. Since many people have been using water-softening salt to melt ice in their pools, driveways, parking lots, and sidewalks, the local rivers and lakes have become saltier.
When it rains, the salt is washed away into the rivers and lakes where it disrupts the aquatic environment. Too much water softening salt in rivers and lakes affects the quality of these essential water sources and hurts aquatic life. That’s why you need to work with swimming pool construction experts who understand the amount of water-softening salt to use to melt the ice in your pool without destroying the environment.
The good thing is that water-softening salt can also be used in place of pool salt for disinfecting the water. It’s a natural disinfecting agent that will help you to remove mineral contaminants like calcium from your pool water.
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