Silica - The Other White Spot and How to Treat it

A common concern from most the homeowners I speak with is that “ugly white film” around their house. The white build-up in question can typically be found on shower doors, appliances, glassware, faucets, etc. Most often the culprit is calcium and magnesium, commonly known as hardness. Hardness can easily be treated with a water softener. However, in some cases the problem persists even after softening. If that’s the situation you are experiencing you probably have Silica Spots.

Silicon Dioxide or Silica (SIO2);

is an oxide of the element silicon which is the second most abundant element found on earth. Silica is present in all natural water supplies in some form. Certain foods such as, strawberries, avocados, onions, root vegetables, wheat, and oat, contain silica. It can also be found in nature in sand, sandstone, quartz, flint, agate, and granite. Studies indicate that silica has health benefits and is needed for bone, cartilage, hair, and nail growth and it can be found in many supplements. Other studies show that Silica has no nutritional value. In either case, it does not appear that silica is harmful to the human body. Because silica is not found to be harmful it is unregulated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).

In a water supply, silica can exist in a dissolved, particulate or a colloidal form;

A colloid is a very fine suspended particle that does not readily settle. In high concentrations it can form hard white scale deposits. Treatment for silica depends on the form it’s in. It may be possible to remove with a simple filtration process if it’s in a particulate form. If it’s in a colloidal form it may require some chemical addition such as magnesium salts which then need to be followed by filtration or a reverse osmosis (RO) system. If you suspect silica is present in your water supply, there’s an easy way to test the scaling. Wipe the affected area with white vinegar. If the vinegar removes the scale or film, the problem is probably hardness. If vinegar does not clean the area the you likely have a silica spots problem. Needless to say, removal of silica spots isn’t as easy at appears.

Is there a water treatment system for silica?  

A salt based softener will not treat silica and the problem will remain even if the water is soft. Because a salt based softener won't work you will need a treatment designed to handle silica. Our ICS system with PolyHalt® treats both hardness and silica and is highly recommended to protect the down-stream flow and your appliances including, water heaters, dishwashers, washing machine, ice makers, etc. ICS systems are small cartridge based water treatment systems that are convenient, easy to install, and easy to maintain.  

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