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What About Environmental Water Systems?

by Mark Timmons September 21, 2010 16 Comments

Ed asked:

I am thinking about purchasing the Environmental Water Systems Model EWS-1354. Is that a good system?

The Water Doctor Replied: Ed, it depends upon what you are paying for it. First of all, you need to understand that the EWS-1354 is an "automatic backwashing carbon filter." In the description on the EWS website, it says that the EWS-1354 contains

Sixty-five (65) pounds or 2.5 cu.ft. of medical high-grade granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration media removes chlorine, chloramines, pesticides, lead, and other volatile organic compounds (VOC's), creating a healthy environment and improving the taste, clarity and odor of all your water.

Snake Oil

Just so that we are clear, the EWS-1354 by Environmental Water Systems is a "backwashing carbon filter" which has 2.5 cu/ft of granular activated carbon. As a point of reference, here's our US Water Backwashing Catalytic Carbon Filter of the same size.

Now, EWS calls their carbon "medical-grade" which somehow implies that it is superior in some fashion. I have been in this industry for 45 years and "medical-grade" carbon is not something I have ever heard of. In fact, after some research, I was not able to find any reference to medical-grade carbon. I think that term has been "invented" by EWS to justify their high prices - a "magic fairy dust" term is what it is. Now, here's where it gets a little dicey. They say that they have an "ICN Conditioner" inside, which catalytically suspends hardness minerals so that they do not adhere to surfaces. Now, I am not sure if the "ICN" is a magnetic device or some other form of snake oil, 'er water treatment.

Magnetic water treatment, has been around for quite some time. A number of water treatment companies claim to use a "catalyst" of some kind to "soften" water or at least to prevent scale formation. In many of these instances, the use of the term "catalytic" has less to do with catalysts than with giving what amounts to "magic fairy dust" a scientific-sounding cloak. Anyone who has taken first-year Chemistry should know that a catalyst can only influence the rate of a reaction, not its final outcome, which depends entirely on thermodynamics. Many water supplies are supersaturated in hardness ions, and it is conceivable that a suitable catalyst could cause this excess material to precipitate out. But even if the solid carbonates were filtered out, the remaining water would still be saturated and capable of forming scale on heat exchanger surfaces and leaving evaporative deposits in teakettles and on surfaces. It would also react with soaps to produce scums in laundry and bathtubs. In short, my opinion of the ICN Conditioner is that it is "pure bunk." There is no credible evidence or scientific tests that lend any credence to this pseudoscience! So, if you want a EWS-1354, you are likely getting a very good carbon filter which will do what any carbon filter will do and which should be able to be purchased for around $1,400.00 or so. If you think you are getting more, well sometimes ignorance is bliss and perception is reality. You can believe what you want. Part of the reason that these systems are so expensive is that the company has several layers of distribution. They assemble this product and have regional managers who sell through dealers in nearly every state. This drives the cost of the product up exponentially. The fact that you are reading this probably means you are "internet savvy" and already know better than to pay $3,495 for a $1,495 product. Information gives you power. Additionally, if you are on city water, you do not really need to backwash.

Our Pulsar Bodyguard System does not use electricity or require backwashing. Backwashing is for well water where you may have a lot of suspended solids. On City Water, the Magna Filter catches all the solids, so there is no need to backwash. If carbon absorbs or adsorbs something, you cannot backwash it out. The same is true with solids: If you trap the solids with the Magna Filter, there is nothing to backwash out. No wasted water and no electricity.

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October 01, 2010 Tony

A comment about particulate carbon in the water. The only time we have seen particulate matter such as John describes in an EWS system is if there has been a water pressure surge that blew the diaphragm out. If your filter is working properly and you have a pressure regulator this won’t happen. I have had an EWS unit in my home for almost 10 years and of course there are mineral deposits on the exterior of shower heads but if you take any of them apart they are spotless inside where the minerals are not sticking where the water runs. The biggest benefits of the ICN conditioning is that the minerals do not as readily adhere to pipes, toilets, plpumbing fixtures, etc., where salt softening systems leave salt deposit on everything which creates serious corrosion issues.

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