Water softener -- evaporate the drainage?

mcguirev10October 3, 2012

We've had a water softener for a few years due to a severe hard-water problem with our well. It just drains to the ground outside the mechanical room. The other day I started thinking about the hundreds of pounds of salt this system has flushed out that drain line. Amazingly the grass hasn't seemed fazed by it -- yet, but I started to wonder if I ought to drain it somewhere else. I don't really have any of the typical options available to me. There is no sewer system in this area and my septic system is about 170 feet away on the opposite end of the house. The nearest drain that connects to the septic system is over 50 feet away with a large garage in between. I can't even run it out to the street, that's a good 50 feet in the other direction, and across a sidewalk and so on...

I mentioned my growing concern about this to my wife and she suggested taking an old trash can or drum and running the drain line into that, and just let the water evaporate away, then throw the salt away with the trash. We're in Florida, I'm not sure whether the water would evaporate fast enough or not, but it seemed like an interesting idea.

I'm looking for feedback on this idea, and also for other creative solutions for anybody else who might be in a similar situation (no sewer system, no convenient access to a septic system, etc).

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There is far less salt than you think in the softener effluent. Using NaCl as a regenerant in a properly operating ion exchange softener the Na ions are exchanged for the calcium (and other ions) on the resin and that goes to drain along with the Cl (chlorides).

One solution you might investigate is a dry well (french drain) for the softener effluent proximate to the softener location. Running it to the ground is prohibited in many areas and so is running it to the street.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 7:49PM
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That's interesting about the effluent salt content. I'll have to do some reading about that, it just didn't occur to me that it simply isn't salt any more coming out the other side.

I nearly have a French drain setup now, as it kind of drains into a small shallow ditch. I do wonder how it could be prohibited to run it to the ground in an area that doesn't have city sewer access... At that point it seems like the system itself would simply be illegal to buy, unless there is some other alternative I'm missing.

I appreciate the input.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 7:38AM
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The system would not be illegal to buy rather it would have to be installed according to local codes and regulations.

Draining into a small shallow ditch is not a french drain.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 9:24AM
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Thanks, yeah, I looked it up because I wasn't familiar with the concept of dry well drainage (you can't go very deep in Florida). I was thinking of a pop-up drain, which I'd always heard incorrectly referred to as a French drain, but I see that a French drain would be buried quite a bit more deeply.

I did search local regs (municode.com) and fortunately they are specifically defined as unregulated here.

I may still try the evaporation thing just for kicks.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 9:47AM
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"There is far less salt than you think in the softener effluent..... "

Since the resin in the water softener has a higher affinity for divalent cations, it must be washed with a rather high concentration of sodium (chloride) to displace them. I'd venture to guess that you get greater than 100 sodium ions out with the wash with every displaced "hard" ion.

"I may still try the evaporation thing just for kicks."

Just for kicks, let us know how that works for you.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 2:13PM
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