As well water flows through the resin, the positively charged iron & hardness molecules are magnetically attracted to the negatively charged resin. As a result, the hardness & iron is removed from the water and magnetically attaches to the resin. The result is softened, iron-free water. These minerals build up in the resin until the next regeneration cycle.
As the iron is stuck to the resin waiting to be cleaned, it is exposed to oxygen. This is where the iron problem occurs in ALL water softeners. Oxygen and iron have one of the strongest magnetic attractions of any two elements. As a result, some of the iron bonds with oxygen to form the compound iron-oxide (aka rust). These rust flakes are now physically trapped in the resin. The only way to clean out this trapped rust is to break this bond between the iron and the oxygen.
The water softener’s resin cleaning process is called the regeneration cycle. When this begins, a valve shuts off the flow of soft water to the house, and begins to draw salt brine water in from the brine tank. This brine water is then circulated for a number of minutes in the opposite direction of the normal flow of the water. The salt has no problem removing the hardness. However, it is unsuccessful at removing iron and rust because salt has a weak molecular bonding strength.
This is why leading iron treatments like Iron-Out and Resup are recommended. These products are effective at removing the iron from the resin, but are completely ineffective at removing the rust. Even though these treatments are stronger than salt, they are still nowhere near strong enough to break the bond between the iron and the oxygen that makes up the rust.
As the water softener returns to softening the water, rust continues to build up in the resin until it becomes “iron-fouled”. This occurs because the resin is so clogged with trapped rust that it can no longer remove 100% of the incoming hardness and iron. As a result, some iron and hardness gets past the resin, and enter the home causing iron stains in sinks, toilets, shower tiles, hair, laundry, & fixtures. This trapped rust problem occurs in all water softeners where iron is present in the well water. Trapped rust build-up is exactly why a water softener will produce perfect iron-free soft water when first installed, only to eventually allow stains to appear after a period of time.
The Crystal Clean treatment has a molecular bonding strength that is 10x stronger than any leading iron treatment on the market. This dramatically higher molecular bonding strength gives Crystal Clean the power to effectively break the bond between the iron and the oxygen that forms the trapped rust. Once broken, the Crystal Clean bonds with the iron, and is flushed down the drain at the end of the regeneration cycle. As a result, years of rust build-up in an old water softener can be completely cleaned of all trapped rust in just a matter of weeks.
A water softener that is kept free of trapped rust will remove an unlimited amount of iron from well water exactly like an iron filter, while avoiding the expensive cost and professional maintenance that an iron filter requires.