Cost Effective Water Conditioners

RD.

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This subject came up recently in another discussion & I felt that it deserved its own thread. Hopefully it will help give some members a better understanding about water conditioners in general, and more importantly help save them some of their hard earned money.



The only way that one can truly know how much Prime (or whatever) to add to their tank is by knowing what quantity of chlorine or chloramine is being added by their local water treatment facility, or more importantly, what the rate is as it leaves the facility for end use.

Without that data, treating your water becomes purely hit or miss.

There are a lot of things one has to factor in before they can say with certainty "how much" water conditioner each tank requires, starting by knowing whether you have chlorine, or chloramine treated tap water, and how much of either (in mg/l) you are treating for. Seachem Prime states 1 capful per 50 gallons, but that's for 4 mg/l chloramine, and/or 5 mg/l chlorine. In my case I can safely use half that amount, as I'm only treating for 2 mg/l chloramine. (the max found in our local water supply)


Chlorine:


If ones tap water is disinfected only with chlorine, by far the most cost effective manner to treat the water is buying bulk sodium thiosulfate, and making your own stock solution. 1 pound will treat approx 30,000 gallons of chlorine treated tap water. (@ 3.75 mg/l chlorine) This is the exact same chemical that the vast majority of lower cost water conditioners on the market are made from. When purchasing those products you are essentially paying for water, and a fancy container.


http://www.wchemical.com/SODIUM-THIOSULFATE-P51C9.aspx

55 lb's for $65.00

1 pound will treat approx 30,000 gallons of chlorine treated tap water. (@ 3.75 ppm chlorine) So unless my math is off, for $60.00, the 40lb bucket would treat approx 1.2 million gallons of water.
Perhaps 2-3 million gallons depending on the level of chlorine in your tap water. For most hobbyists, even those with large fishrooms, a single pail would most likely last you a lifetime. For those with smaller set ups, split a pail with a few friends.

Recipe:
Make a solution consisting of 4 ounces (1/4 lb) Sodium Thiosulfate crystals dissolved in 1 gallon of distilled or deionized water. Use 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of the solution for each 10 gallons of makeup water to neutralize up to 3.75 ppm chlorine. One cup can be used for each 500 gallons. (The entire one gallon of solution will treat about 7500 gallons of tap water.) The shelf life of the solution is about six months when stored in a cool location. The crystals will keep for several years if kept dry.

While chlorine can be effectively neutralized by simply running a powerhead in a storage container for approx 24 hrs, for many hobbyists that deal with hundreds or thousands of gallons of water on a weekly basis, this isn't always a practical approach.


Chloramine:

Unlike chlorine, chloramine can sit in solution for weeks, even under heavy agitation such as with a powerhead, and it will not simply gas off. You must use a water conditioner that not only breaks the chlorine/ammonia bond, but for most applications it must also convert the free ammonia (NH3) into a form that is safe for your fish.

When chloramine tap water is treated with products such as Seachem Prime, Seachem Safe, or ClorAm-X, the chlorine/ammonia bond is broken, resulting in a certain amount of free ammonia (NH3) that needs to be bound or reduced into a safe non toxic form. The toxicity of free ammonia is highly dependent on both temperature, and pH, so this can vary GREATLY from one hobbyists tank to another.


A good read on the toxicity of ammonia can be found in the following article posted on the krib.

http://www.thekrib.com/Chemistry/ammonia-toxicity.html

Note: Some products that advertise that they will detoxify both chlorine & chloramine, in actuality only split the chlormine/ammonia bond, they do not reduce the free ammonia. If the label doesn't clearly state that the product will neutralize or remove ammonia, then chances are it is nothing more than watered down sodium thiosulfate. It's nothing more than slick marketing, so read the labels closely, or stick with high quality products that have a good track record such as Prime, Safe, and/or ClorAm-X.


There is somewhat of a misconception in this hobby with regards to water conditioners neutralizing heavy metals. This is typically nothing more than a by product of most conditioners, and overall usually has a minor effect in so much as they will typically only detoxify heavy metals that are found in tap water at "typical" concentration levels. (ppb) At those levels there is no need to be concerned from the get go, most natural bodies of water will contain the same trace amounts. So while these products will precipitate typical heavy metals, such as lead, zinc, mercury, copper etc, they will not remove or detoxify heavy metals at elevated levels, make no mistake about that.

The following comment was sent to me years ago by Dr. Greg Morin, CEO of Seachem.


"The principal that operates is the precipitation of the metal salts of the anion used for the dechlorination/reduction process. So products using sodium thiosulfate precipitate (metal)-thiosulfate, we use a hydrosulfite as one ingredient for example, so the (metal)-hydrosulfite is precipitated."
Back in 2004 Seachem actually removed the spiel about detoxifying heavy metals from the Prime labels, and when I questioned Greg about this - his response (in part) is below.

We did remove from our labeling as it is a fairly minor effect and did not want to mislead people into thinking it was some kind of heavy metal removing product... but maybe removal of that has caused more confusion since competitors still make the claim for an effect that is identical in their products as well.
-Greg Morin

Gregory Morin, Ph.D. ~~~~~~~President/CEO~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Seachem Laboratories, Inc. [/quote]


At least Greg is honest, gotta give him props for that.


A couple of weeks ago I asked Greg about having to treat the entire tank volume, when filling directly from a hose. (vs. pre-treating the new water).
This comes up time & time again on various forums, so here's the skinny directly from the CEO.


Greg stated:

"some people prefer to just add the new untreated water directly to the tank... if they do that then we recommend the amount of Prime they add be based on the total gallonage of the aquarium rather than just what they added. The "extra" amount speeds up the rate of removal."


I then asked: Is the reaction time based on pH, or any other factors?

I was curious about pH being a factor as the makers of ClorAm-X state:

"At low pH's this reaction proceeds slower than at pH's above 7, but in practical terms the reaction proceeds quickly enough to provide complete ammonia removal in an hour or less."



Greg's response:

It would be influenced by pH although I'm not sure if the differences we see in an aquarium would contribute significantly to the time scale at a level where it would be noticed. But the reaction is one that produces H+ so higher pH would tend to favor the reaction although I'm not sure if kinetically it would have a noticeable effect.


But, at the end of the day, if what you are doing works and does not cause any problems then it is ok. Our recommendations are meant to cover a broad range of users and we tend to prefer to err on the side of being overly cautious.


Greg Morin





Now let's crunch some numbers .......

As previously stated the only way that one can truly know how much Prime (or whatever) to add to their tank is by knowing what quantity of chlorine or chloramine is being added by their local water treatment facility, or more importantly, what the rate is as it leaves the facility for end use. Without that data, it becomes purely hit or miss.

Seachem Prime states 1 capful per 50 gallons, but that's for 4 mg/l chloramine, and/or 5 mg/l chlorine. In my case I can safely use half that amount, as I'm only treating for 2 mg/l chloramine. (the max found in our local water supply)


Let me attempt to explain this in detail using Seachem Safe vs. ClorAm-X as an example.

Seachems Directions:

To remove…

Chlorine: use 1 measure to each 60 L (15 gallons*) of tap water (removes 1 ppm).

Chloramine: use 1 measure to each 75 L (20 gallons*) of tap water (removes 1 ppm).

Ammonia: use 1 measure to each 11 L (3 gallons*) of tap water (removes 1 ppm). Do not overdose!


ClorAm-X directions:

Dosage: use 1 oz per 235 gallons (= 1 teaspoon per ~40 gallon of
water to remove 1.0 mg/L total ammonia (as NH3, 0.8 mg/L as

ammonia-nitrogen), 2.1 mg/L free chlorine, and 3.2 mg/L chloramines (as NH2Cl).

The ClorAm-X label on their 10 lb pails states: 1.207 grams per 10 gallons to remove 1.0 mg/L total ammonia (or 3.2 mg/l chloramine)




Using chloramine as an example, 1 measure of Safe (100 mg) is only a reference point. In reality most municipalities will be using somewhere between 2-3 mg/l, some possibly higher, which means one would need to be using 2-3 measures for each 20 gallons of new water, not just a single scoop.

So using Safe for 2 mg/l of chloramine, one would need to use 1 gram per 100 gallons of tap water.

With ClorAm-X you need to use 1.2 grams (@3.2 mg/l chloramine) to treat for 10 gallons of tap water.
So approx 7 grams per 100 gallons of tap water. (at 2 mg/l chloramine)

IOW one needs to use several times the amount of ClorAm-X, for the same 100 gallons of tap water.


Once you can determine the exact amount required in order to treat your local water, only then can one begin to compare overall cost savings from one water conditioner to another.

Randy Reed sells 10 lb pails of ClorAm-X for $70.00 (free shipping in the USA)
8.8 lb's of Seachem Safe can be purchased for $72.99. (plus shipping)

You get 1.2 pounds less of Safe for close to the same cost as ClorAm-X, but you can use several times less Safe to get the same job done.

10 lb's of ClorAm-X will treat 37,588 gallons (2.1 mg/l chlorine, 3.2 mg/l chloramine) so even if I was overly generous & doubled the water volume based on 2mg/l of chloramine (actually it would only be treating for 1.6 mg/l) I would be looking at approx. 75,000 gallons vs. 400,000 gallons of water using the 4KG container of Seachem Safe.

That's quite a substantial difference ......


A 4L jug of Prime will treat 80,000 gallons of chloramine treated tap water @ 2 mg/l chloramine, which is still several thousand gallons more than a 10lb pail of ClorAm-X will treat, but only a small fraction of what a 4KG container of Seachem Safe will treat.

For chloramine treated tap water, the winner hands down is Seachem Safe.
At least based on the prices that I can purchase these products for.

Our local water treatment facility switched from chlorine to chloramine approx 12 yrs ago, and I have personally used all of the products mentioned above, and tested all of them extensively over the years.
Prime, Safe, and ClorAm-X are all high quality products that will do exactly as they claim. (with regards to neutralizing the toxic effects of chloramine)

It appears that Seachem has adjusted their dosage rates over the past few years. *Not that I'm complaining, the same thing happened to Prime several years ago when their chemists crunched some numbers into a new formula. *This is good news, even more bang for the buck! * :naughty:

My 4kg container states for chloramine, 5 g (1 teaspoon) to each 950l (250 gallons) of tap water (4ppm) ........ now Seachem has upped that value to 5 g (1 tsp.*) to each 1250 L (300 gallons - actually works out to 329 gallons*) of tap water (removes 4 ppm).


Directions for 10 g and 50 g

To remove…

Chlorine: use 1 measure to each 130 L (35 gallons*) of tap water (removes 1 ppm)..
Chloramine: use 1 measure to each 100 L (25 gallons*) of tap water (removes 1 ppm).
Ammonia: use 1 measure to each 32 L (8 gallons*) of tap water (removes 1 ppm). Do not overdose!*

For reference, 1 measure = 100 mg. To detoxify nitrite/nitrate in an emergency situation use up to 5 measures to each 40 L (10 gallons). Use fish to gauge toxicity reduction as test kits will still show presence of nitrite/nitrate even when detoxified. May be added to aquarium directly, but is better if added to new water first. If adding directly to aquarium, base dose on aquarium volume. If temperature is > 30 C (86 F) cut dosing in half.


Directions for 250 g and larger

To remove…

Chlorine: use 5 g (1 tsp.*) to each 1625 L (450 gallons*) of tap water (removes 4 ppm).
Chloramine: use 5 g (1 tsp.*) to each 1250 L (300 gallons*) of tap water (removes 4 ppm).
Ammonia: use 5 g (1 tsp.*) to each 400 L (100 gallons*) of tap water (removes 4 ppm). Do not overdose!

So @ 2 ppm chloramine (my tap water value year round) I can treat a total of 526,400 gallons ....... with a single 4KG container of Seachem Safe. *

*Gotta luv that!

HTH
 

spongebob281

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I find this article useful as I have a 500 G tank and I go through 3-4 bottles of conditioners a month. I didnt see anything about how to remove chloramine. Sorry if i missed it thanks
 

RD.

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You must have skimmed rather quickly. :)

For chloramine removal, start here; Chloramine:
 
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Conner

Jack Dempsey
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Good read. I've considered using sodium thiosulfate before, but that was before I found out that our water company uses chloramines. Our tap water report says 2.6ppm, or 2.6 mg/l. Looks like I could get by with about half a dose as well, then. Maybe I'll look into getting Seachem Safe, I haven't even heard of that one before...
 

Conner

Jack Dempsey
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So which product are you currently using??
 

RD.

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I'm currently using Seachem Safe.

@ 2 mg/l chloramine (our local tap water residual) I can treat 400,000 gallons of tap water with a 4kg container of Safe. Cost is approx $70 US & change.


HTH
 

Conner

Jack Dempsey
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Hmm, how long does it last once you put it in solution? Or do you just mix as much as you need for each water change?
 

RD.

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I pre-mix in a one gallon jug for each tank on WC day, then add to the tank as I refill. I don't see any real benefit in making up a stock solution to last several weeks, or months.
 
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