Sunday, April 27, 2008

The bane of my existence

Living alone on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, I confront unique challenges and adventures...rattlesnakes on the front porch, locoweed in the pastures, nobody to help me when I have to put the leaf in the dining room table. In the two and half years I have lived here, I have emerged from all of these challenges victorious, except for one...this one...the water softener.

Step one after I bought this land was getting the well dug. No point in building a house here if there wasn’t water to be had. We hit water at 333’ feet, and the well driller said it was a 20 gallon per minute source, whatever that meant. Turns out, that’s a good well - plenty of water. Also turns out that it was plenty of really bad water. I took samples to a lab and the men in white coats said things like, “hmm...hardest we’ve ever seen” and “’re gonna take a shower in this stuff?” I was pretty well connected in the rural water world at the time, serving on the board of the local water utility. When I put out the word that I needed the mother of all water softening systems, I was directed to the alleged zen master of such things. He convinced me he had a system that would remove the sulfates from my water and make it usable. I believed him.

Fast forward through the next 24 months. The zen master of water softeners has been to my ranch 17 times to repair/adjust/futz with the water softener; the well driller has been back twice to modify/adjust/futz with the well pump so that it would communicate more clearly with the water softener; I have dug up two frost-free hydrants suspecting they were making the well-pump run continously when it was really the water softener’s fault.

My clothes are still gray, my dishes are always dirtier when I take them out of the dishwasher than when I put them in; and the only time I drink the water is after it’s been made into not-very-good-tasting coffee.

On visit #17 last December, the water softener guy replaced a thingamajig with a whatsamabob, and that seems to have solved the main mechanical problem with the unit. I’ve learned to live with my gray clothes, since everything I own is barn wear anyway. With enough sugar and cream, the coffee is drinkable. But I can’t get past the groady, scummy, filmy yuck on the dishes. Every time I have company for dinner, I have to soak all the dishes, glasses and silverware in vinegar to make them marginally usable.

But then a miracle happened. The Pioneer Woman posted an entry on her blog recently about a product called LemiShine and how it saved her sanity because her dishes are no longer groady, scummy, filmy and yucky. There were lots of comments from other readers with similar testimonials. Could LemiShine be the answer to my water woes? Did I have a reason to live again?

Well, I’m here to tell you that the stuff works. It’s magic. It’s like having little men in your dishwasher with hammers and chisels that knock off all the crud and then polish your glasses with a soft cloth. There is a god, and his name is LemiShine!

Only problem is you have to go to Walmart to buy the stuff. I'll deal with it.


  1. Loved the grizzly bear quote!! ;) And glad you have found a great product, even if you have to go to the "Evil Empire" to get it (that is what my friend calls Walmart.)

  2. Thanks for the info on Lemi Shine. I put it into my search engine and was happy to see they sell it online, so it can be delivered right to the house by the case! You don't have to find a WalMart in your area. How's that for convenience. Can't wait to try this stuff and see what color the glasses and dishes really are, wonder if you could put it in with the clothes too.

  3. I'll take rattlesnakes on the front porch, thank you. I hate thingamajig and dohickey issues!
    Janet Roper

  4. Once I found out I could get it at Walmart, I decided I couldn't wait for the UPS man to deliver it. Arlene, I can't wait for you to try it so you can have your own miracle. Their website FAQ page says they haven't tested it in the clothes washer, but since it's all natural, how much harm could it do? Now I'm trying the overnight soak that the manufacturer recommends for the dishwasher to see if it will dissolve the quarter inch of crud on the heating element.

  5. You say you have (high) sulfates... a water softener does not remove or reduce sulfates. Or high TDS (total dissolved solids) or chlorides. Any of those things or a combination of them can be the cause of your problems. A softener does remove hardness (calcium and magnesium), ferrous iron, manganese, copper, lead, radium, sodium etc..

    If there was some anion resin in the softener, on top of the cation, then some sulfates and chlorides would be removed. That's called top dressing a softener. It is not as good as another softener with only anion resin in it. Which one to use would depend on how much of those things are in the water.

    By the looks of the filter and the brine line from the salt tank, you must have a lot of iron in your water. I was a Braswell dealer 20 years ago. Braswell softeners are excellent at removing iron but have you had a hardness test done on the softened water to see if it is taking all the hardness out of the water from one regeneration to the next? You should buy a home hardness test kit and test each day from one regeneration to the next regeneration.

    Gary Slusser
    Quality Water Associates

  6. Thanks for all the information, Gary. I've been told that I do have anion resin in the unit - I don't know whether it's all anion or if the anion is a top dressing.

    I will get a home hardness test kit and see what I can learn from that. The installer has tested the water every time he has been out here, but nothing he says ever makes much sense to me. I've spoken to Earl Braswell directly many times trying to get to the bottom of this mess and am beyond ready to thrown the darned thing out and start all over again.

  7. I had no idea the water issue was so complex - very interesting and I'm glad you've found that product to make life easier. (and dishes cleaner!)

  8. Leave it to P-Dub to help you find that item. She is great and I love your blog!