Template-assisted crystallization (TAC) is one of the multiple ways water conditioners produce soft water. Unlike how the name appears, the process of template-assisted crystallization is less complicated.
Water conditioners differ from softeners in different ways. Simply put, template-assisted crystallization uses TAC media to crystallize hardness minerals in your water to prevent scale formation. To an extent, it’s a form of water softening. There’s a lot to know about TAC water and the technology behind it. Read on to learn more.
The Technology Behind TAC Water and How It Differs From The Water Softener
Initially, salt wasn’t needed for water softening. This means softeners and ion exchange wasn’t even a thing then. Instead, people used electric current to transform the makeup of hard water minerals, neutralizing them in the process. This form of water conditioning is carried out by a magnetic water softener.
A notable downside to this form of water conditioning was that it wasn’t easy to measure its effectiveness in water samples. This is where template-assisted crystallization came into the picture. It’s also known as nucleation-assisted crystallization.
It’s a salt-free method of preventing scale build-up. The outcome is similar to that of ion exchange water softeners, but it employs a different technique to achieve that outcome.
Template-assisted crystallization is the most common alternative to the conventional water softener. Unlike the water softener, it doesn’t remove minerals from water. Instead, it simply conditions them, transforming them into microscopic crystals.
This neutralizes them, although they remain suspended in your water flow. Water systems utilizing TAC technology are a clear favorite of households who wish to retain healthy minerals in their drinking water. TAC technology is a win-win for those who want to improve their water quality but keep minerals such as calcium, magnesium, etc., in their water supply.
It also serves to reduce scale deposits, which protects your plumbing system and household appliances such as water heaters.
How Does Template-Assisted Crystallization Treat Water Hardness?
Template-assisted crystallization (TAC) systems usually have a tank housing a unique resin bed. This is the TAC media; it’s made of polymeric beads, which make up the surface of this media.
This bed traps magnesium and calcium (mineral ions that trigger the hard water scale) while water is flowing through the tank. The resin contains nucleation sites that prevent new scale formation by changing calcium and magnesium to microcrystals.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s a form of salt-free, hard water treatment, but instead of using ion-exchange like conventional water softeners, it uses nucleation-assisted crystallization.
Once these mineral ions are transformed into nanocrystals, they cannot stick to surfaces of water heaters and pipes, making them unable to form limescale.
Is Template-Assisted Effective in Preventing or Reducing Scale Formation?
Over the years, this subject has always been a topic of controversy. Companies that manufacture ion exchange water softeners insist that there’s no clear method to test how effective this hard water treatment is.
The major bone of contention is that TAC water still has calcium and magnesium, resulting in hard water. While they are right in saying there’s no water test to evaluate the effectiveness of the TAC system, there’s still a way to know if it’s effective in scale prevention.
For instance, when you install this salt-free system, you’ll notice at least a 90% reduction in hard water scale on your surfaces, pipes, water heaters, and other appliances.
So while this hard water treatment will still taste the way before being conditioned, it won’t form scale in your home.
Advantages of TAC Water
Retains Beneficial Mineral Ions
Softeners eliminate mineral ions from water to produce soft water. On the other hand, TAC units convert mineral ions, including beneficial ones like calcium, magnesium, zinc, etc., into tiny crystals.
Once these crystals grow to a particular size, the resin bed releases them back into the water. In this state, they become harmless to surfaces, pipes, and appliances in your home.
Costs Less to Maintain than Water Softeners
A salt-based water softener requires salt to soften water. Without salt, the system is ineffective. This will need you to top up salt in the brine tank periodically and buy replacement bags of salt.
On the flip side, the TAC system doesn’t need brine to soften water. Instead, it uses its unique resin media. The real beauty is the durability of this media; it can last as long as eight years. In summary, TAC requires much less maintenance than the salt-based softening system.
Reduction of Scale
TAC units can lessen the formation of scale in your home by over 90%. The real catch is that it does this without affecting the water flow rate. The reduction of scale automatically results in another benefit: protecting your home from limescale deposits.
Appliances such as your laundry machine, dishwashing machines, and your water heaters will be safe from chalky build-up. Also, your bathroom surfaces will be free of soap scum, and your kitchenware will be free from spots.
Easy to Install
This system has a single tank, making it easy for you to install it yourself. This saves you the cost of hiring a professional to do it.
On the other hand, many models of salt-based softeners require professional installation. It also doesn’t affect flow rates.
Disadvantages of TAC Water
It’s Harder to Assess Its Effectiveness
There’s no specific water test to evaluate how effective TAC is. Moreover, it just crystallizes mineral ions and leaves them in the water. So the water will still read “hard” on a water hardness test.
On the other hand, conventional softeners produce soft water because they swap sodium for calcium and magnesium. The absence of these hard minerals in your water makes it easier to test.
Doesn’t Completely Stop the Formation of Scale
We admit that TAC reduces the formation of scale by over 90%. However, this also means there will still be trace quantities of scale deposits. They may take longer to build and do less damage, but they’re still there.
A water softener, on the flip side, completely removes water hardness.