Descaling a water ionizer

My water ionizer has a fully automated descaling system. Why do I also have to descale it manually?

  • A baby needs nappies, a dog has to go for walks, a coffee maker and an ionizer has to be descaled. It goes with the system. The manufacturers sadly use the term “automatic descaling” very widely. Therefore I will give you some background information: Limescale deposits in water ionizers always originate at the negative pole, the cathode, which gives off negatively charged electrons into the water. Positively charged calcium-ions are attracted and stick to the metal in thicker layers. This reduces the surface of the cathode, so the total production of the electrolysis cell is diminished.
  • Additionally, the cathode side of a diaphragm can calcify. These deposits have to be eliminated by the decalcifying system. For that there are different systems on the market.

FAQ Calcified electrodes left

  • Method 1: Upstream decalcification: To start with the drawing of water the electricity is reversed for 30 seconds. With this, the cathode becomes the anode, the positive charge repels the calcium. During the pole reversal the device will give warning indications, that the water from the alkaline outlet is not drinkable. In the long run it only runs perfectly if the water is tapped for only 30 seconds after switching the electricity back. Usually it is tapped longer, so that the cathode builds up a limescale layer. The disadvantage: The user has to wait 30 seconds until one gets activated alkaline water. The advantage: Warmed up stagnation water from the water pipes and the pre-filters flows out. The average user would still wait until the water flows out cold.
  • Method 2: Downstream decalcification: At the end of drawing water the device still holds some water in the electrolysis cell for a few seconds and reverses the polarity like in Method 1. Subsequently the run off water flows through the drain pipe directly to the acidic water outlet. The advantage: No waiting time. The disadvantage: Only a few seconds of electricity current reversal and when first drawing water you will get warm stagnation water from the water pipes and pre-filters. Until the water flows out at a cool temperature, it takes time, in which a limescale layer can build up. Conclusion: Worse than Method 1.
  • Method 3: Cyclic decalcification: The polarity of the electricity will be reversed after a certain rate of flow or a certain amount of time (usually 12 hours) for a 30 second cleaning cycle with alarm signals. The advantage: Technically easier than Method 2 and therefor cheaper. The disadvantage:  Especially when drawing water frequently in small amounts a day no decalcification will take place, even though a big amount was produced. So a higher predisposition of scaling and a lot of manual post decalcifying is necessary. Annoying: Even if for 12 hours no activated water was produced, a decalcifying cycle takes place with current reversal.
  • Methode 4: Flow change – Polarity change and drainage reversal: After drawing water the previously used cathode chamber used as a cell chamber becomes the anode chamber, in which the polarity is changed and the drainage is channelled to the other outlet. Like this a permanent self-descaling process takes place. The advantage: With smooth electrode manufacturing, (electrolysis cells), this method protects the cells reliably from calcifying. This method was patented by the Korean company Alkamedi (European brandname Aquion®). The disadvantage: As a rule only alkaline activated water flows exclusively out of the upper outlet and never acidic water. Since alkaline activated water starts to relax immediately after being produced, (relaxation period), minerals will be isolated when leaving the cells, which can constrict the outflow. So here with a decreased outflow a manual decalcification is necessary. Just not that often.

  • Method 5: Manual decalcification. When the achieved pH output noticeably diminishes with the same water flow amount or if the flow capacity of alkaline activated water is less compared to acidic water – The same amount of activated acidic water should flow out, never more than alkaline water – then you have to decalcify manually. Most manufacturers provide fixed intervals for hard water. Premium devices even indicate automatic guidelines for a due manual decalcification. Please follow these indications and don’t forget to unplug your device.
  • Please carry out the manual descaling with the included descaling pump, also available as an accessory. The pump should run at least an hour (up to 12 hours) with the descaling agents. It should not get warmer than 35°C.
  • With heavy calcification – for example when citrates (lime salts from the descaling agent citric acid) fall off as white crystals or the descaling agent turns yellowish, you should replace the descaling solution. Please do not forget, after the descaling process, to rinse the pump thoroughly with clear water, since it can get blocked because of incrustations.
  • An incrusted pump, that does not start, usually runs again when you soak it in clear water for an hour. After the manual decalcification set your water ionizer on “Purified” (filtered water) and let about 10 litres of water flow through to rinse. This is not drinking water and can still contain traces of the descaling agent.

FAQ Calcium citrate


Excerpt from the book “Karl Heinz Asenbaum: Electrically activated water – An invention with extraordinary potential.”
Copyright 2016

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About Karl Heinz Asenbaum

The Munich-based journalist has been working on the topic of "alkaline activated water" since 2004. For 12 years he worked closely with the alternative physician Dr. Walter Irlacher, with whom he wrote two successful books: "Service Manual for Humans” (Service Handbuch Mensch) (2006) and "Drink Yourself Alkaline” (Trink Dich basisch) (2008,2011). Since 2014 he has been contributing his knowledge and experience to Aquacentrum and giving lectures worldwide. “Electro-activated Water", the world's most comprehensive book on the subject, was published in 2016. View all faqs by Karl Heinz Asenbaum 

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