Monthly Archives: December 2011


HARD WATER (1.1 – 1.2) AND WATER SOFTENING (2.1 – 2.5)
Lenntech. “Water Softener Frequently Asked Questions.” (June 13, 2011)


1.1 What is hard water?

When water is referred to as ‘hard’ this simply means, that it contains more minerals than ordinary water. These are especially the minerals calcium and magnesium. The degree of hardness of the water increases when more calcium and magnesium dissolves.
Magnesium and calcium are positively charged ions. Because of their presence, other positively charged ions will dissolve less easily in hard water than in water that does not contain calcium and magnesium.
This is the cause of the fact that soap doesn’t really dissolve in hard water.

1.2 Which industries attach value to hardness of water?

In many industrial applications, such as the drinking water preparation, in breweries and in sodas, but also for cooling- and boiler feed water the hardness of the water is very important.


2.1 What is water softening?

When water contains a significant amount of calcium and magnesium, it is called hard water. Hard water is known to clog pipes and to complicate soap and detergent dissolving in water.
Water softening is a technique that serves the removal of the ions that cause the water to be hard, in most cases calcium and magnesium ions. Iron ions may also be removed during softening.
The best way to soften water is to use a water softener unit and connect it directly to the water supply.

2.2 What is a water softener?

A water softener is a unit that is used to soften water, by removing the minerals that cause the water to be hard.

2.3 Why is water softening applied?

Water softening is an important process, because the hardness of water in households and companies is reduced during this process.
When water is hard, it can clog pipes and soap will dissolve in it less easily. Water softening can prevent these negative effects.
Hard water causes a higher risk of lime scale deposits in household water systems. Due to this lime scale build-up, pipes are blocked and the efficiency of hot boilers and tanks is reduced. This increases the cost of domestic water heating by about fifteen to twenty percent.
Another negative effect of lime scale is that it has damaging effects on household machinery, such as laundry machines.
Water softening means expanding the life span of household machine, such as laundry machines, and the life span of pipelines. It also contributes to the improved working, and longer lifespan of solar heating systems, air conditioning units and many other water-based applications.

2.4 What does a water softener do?

Water softeners are specific ion exchangers that are designed to remove ions, which are positively charged.
Softeners mainly remove calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+) ions. Calcium and magnesium are often referred to as ‘hardness minerals’.
Softeners are sometimes even applied to remove iron. The softening devices are able to remove up to five milligrams per litre (5 mg/L) of dissolved iron.
Softeners can operate automatic, semi-automatic, or manual. Each type is rated on the amount of hardness it can remove before regeneration is necessary.

A water softener collects hardness minerals within its conditioning tank and from time to time flushes them away to drain.
Ion exchangers are often used for water softening. When an ion exchanger is applied for water softening, it will replace the calcium and magnesium ions in the water with other ions, for instance sodium or potassium. The exchanger ions are added to the ion exchanger reservoir as sodium and potassium salts (NaCl and KCl).

2.5 How long does a water softener last?

A good water softener will last many years. Softeners that were supplied in the 1980’s may still work, and many need little maintenance, besides filling them with salt occasionally.


The Niagara Escarpment was created by ancient seas and is essentially a cliff that runs through Southern Ontario, from Niagara Falls to Tobermory and beyond. Not surprisingly, it is responsible for numerous waterfalls, the most famous of which is Niagara Falls. Any river or stream that originates above the escarpment and flows towards Lake Ontario or the Georgian Bay is going to fall off the escarpment at some point, resulting in a waterfall.
The Bruce Trail follows the escarpment from Tobermory all the way to Niagara falls, and passes by dozens of waterfalls.
If you travel from Tobermory to Niagara, some of the falls you will pass (in order) are:

1. Indian Falls   2. Jones Falls   3. Inglis Falls    4. Eugenia Falls   5. Smokey Hollow Falls

6. Borers Falls   7. Webster Falls   8. Tews Falls   9. Sherman Falls   10. Albion Falls

11. Felkers Falls   12. Devil’s Punchbowl Falls   13. Beamer Falls   14. Ball’s Falls

15. Rockway Falls   16. Decew Falls   17. Niagara

Click on the link below for stunning photography of the falls mentioned above:

You will also find Keefer Falls,Walters Falls, Hoggs Falls,Cataract Falls, Hilton Falls,Tiffany Falls, Upper Balls Falls and Louth Falls along the escarpment. Many of these waterfalls are reduced to trickles in mid or late summer.
The water that falls off the Niagara Escarpment by means of Eugenia Falls, Inglis Falls, Jones Falls, Indian Falls and Keefer Falls flows into Lake Huron. This means the water is destined to fall over the Niagara Escarpment a second time when it eventually empties into lake Ontario by means of Niagara Falls.


For those who live close to one of the poles, snow and ice sculptures are serious art forms. Whether it’s a massive ice castle or a fully functional ice piano, the sky’s the limit for what these sculptors can create.
There are contests and festivals around the world dedicated to this skill, from the International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in Harbin, China, to the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Ottawa’s Winterlude and British Columbia Snow Sculpture Championships in Vernon, B.C are also featured.
Here are 15 wintry creations that will give your backyard snowman a serious complex. (Text: Caitlin Leary)



Take a water tour with us through your home, yard, diet, and transportation and consumer choices! Then, pledge to cut your water footprint and help return more water to rivers, lakes, wetlands, underground aquifers, and freshwater species.

Ready for the challenge? Let’s get started…


Be water wise this winter, use only the salt needed to make you walkways around your home safe. Remember that salt does not just disappear but will end up in the rivers, lakes or aquifers.


13 Animals of the Artic: Life in the tundra

Most of us will never visit the Arctic Circle — and the residents of this northernmost region are perfectly happy with that. We’re not talking about Eskimos; we’re talking about the animals that call the Arctic home. Though the subzero temperatures and rugged boreal forests may seem bleak and unforgiving, many species thrive in the frigid tundra of the Arctic Circle.
Some of these animals you will have seen before, like the polar bear or the snowy owl (pictured), while others are more exotic, like the “unicorn of the sea” or the Canada lynx. Learn more about these 13 animal representatives of the chilly Arctic Circle. (Text: Caroline Inge)


By Lester R. Brown
The pace of solar energy development is accelerating as the installation of rooftop solar water heaters takes off. Unlike solar photovoltaic (PV) panels that convert solar radiation into electricity, these “solar thermal collectors” use the sun’s energy to heat water, space, or both.
China had an estimated 168 million square meters (1.8 billion square feet) of rooftop solar thermal collectors installed by the end of 2010 — nearly two thirds of the world total. This is equivalent to 118,000 thermal megawatts of capacity, enough to supply 112 million Chinese households with hot water. With some 5,000 Chinese companies manufacturing these devices, this relatively simple low-cost technology has leapfrogged into villages that do not yet have electricity. For as little as $200, villagers can install a rooftop solar collector and take their first hot shower. This technology is sweeping China like wildfire, already approaching market saturation in some communities. Beijing’s goal is to reach 300 million square meters of rooftop solar water heating capacity across the country by 2020, a goal it is likely to exceed.
Other developing countries such as India and Brazil may also soon see millions of households turning to this inexpensive water heating technology. Once the initial installment cost of rooftop solar water heaters is paid back, the hot water is essentially free.
In Europe, where energy costs are relatively high, rooftop solar water heaters are also spreading fast. In Austria, 15 percent of all households now rely on them for hot water. Germany is also forging ahead. Some 2 million Germans are now living in homes with rooftop solar systems. Roughly 30 percent of the installed solar thermal capacity in these two countries consists of “solar combi-systems” that are engineered to heat both water and space.
The U.S. rooftop solar water heating industry has historically concentrated on a niche market — selling and marketing more than 9 million square meters of solar water heaters for swimming pools between 1995 and 2005. Given this base, the industry was poised to mass-market residential solar water and space heating systems when federal tax credits were introduced in 2006. Led by Hawaii, California, and Florida, annual U.S. installations of these systems have more than tripled since 2005.
Despite the recent growth in U.S. installations, the country ranks 36th in installed capacity relative to its population, with just 0.01 square meters installed per person. Cyprus, on the other hand, currently leads the world in solar water heater area on a per capita basis, with 0.79 square meters per person. Israel ranks second with 0.56 square meters per person…
Solar water and space heaters in Europe and China have a strong economic appeal, often paying for themselves from electricity savings in less than 10 years. With the cost of rooftop heating systems declining and more countries implementing favorable policies, the shift from fossil fuels to solar energy for heating water and space will likely accelerate.
For more data and information on the rapid growth of renewable energy worldwide, see World on the Edge by Lester R. Brown at


Diver recently dared to swim alongside the Greenland shark, a scavenger that lives farther north than any other shark species and can grow as large as a great white. By Bryan NelsonWed, Dec

This predator has been found with caribou in its stomach, probably the result of scavenging… Imagine a shark that grows as large as a great white, has toxic, urea-soaked flesh, and dines on an assortment of marine mammals. No, this isn’t the latest Hollywood attempt to ramp up the “Jaws” franchise. Meet the Greenland shark — perhaps one of the world’s least known apex marine predators.

Daredevil diver Doug Perrine recently had the audacity to get up close and personal with one of these elusive creatures, according to the Daily Mail. Though the water was murky and cold, Perrine took solace in the fact that these sharks are not known to attack humans — but they aren’t known for good eyesight, either. “The sharks were able to satisfy their curiosity about me by approaching to the limit of visibility at about six meters distance,” Perrine told the Daily Mail. “The sharks are known to prey on large seals, but I never felt threatened.” “They have an almost goofy, comical appearance,” he added, referring to the animal’s toothy grin – an expression that seems etched in stone upon their faces.

The Greenland shark is native to the waters of the north Atlantic Ocean, living farther north than any other shark species. Perhaps the lack of competition is what drives them to feast on such a vast array of Arctic prey, a menu which typically includes fish and marine mammals, but because this creature is primarily a scavenger, some specimens have been found with horse and reindeer in their stomachs.

One of the shark’s other unusual attributes includes its poisonous, urea-laced flesh, which makes the animal hazardous to eat. Interestingly, the toxic content of its flesh comes not from the urea, but rather from the presence of trimethylamine oxide, a toxin that can produce symptoms similar to drunkenness when consumed. Even so, local Inuits have learned to make the flesh palatable by boiling it or fermenting it for several months. The shark is also known to live for as long as 200 years. The oldest individuals are the ones known to reach massive sizes (possibly as long as 24 feet), rivaling the great white shark. Check out a video below for a (safe) glimpse of what it’s like to swim with one of these eerie Arctic predators: