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Washing Bikes using Softener Salt Water

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Washing Bikes using Softener Salt Water

Old 10-31-20, 11:29 PM
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SpeedRanger
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Washing Bikes using Softener Salt Water

For about six months I've been washing my bikes using water generated from a pellet salt softener. I was wondering if this will harm the bikes in the long term as the frames and wheels are aluminum with a mix of carbon or aluminum stems and seat post. Groupsets are all mid range Shimano.
Should I switch over to using city supplied water or stick with the salt water?
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Old 11-01-20, 04:42 AM
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I don't think I'd use water with salt content in it to wash anything metal. (apart from silverware and other things I don't care about)
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Old 11-01-20, 04:51 AM
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Originally Posted by SpeedRanger View Post
For about six months I've been washing my bikes using water generated from a pellet salt softener. I was wondering if this will harm the bikes in the long term as the frames and wheels are aluminum with a mix of carbon or aluminum stems and seat post. Groupsets are all mid range Shimano.
Should I switch over to using city supplied water or stick with the salt water?
If this information is even remotely correct I don't think I'd worry about it: https://www.h2oequipment.com/how-to/...rinking-water/
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Old 11-01-20, 05:27 AM
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Interesting information. And not just for bike washing. Thanks for the link!
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Old 11-01-20, 08:15 AM
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Your water softener doesn’t “add” salt to the water. The salt is used to cause a reaction with the ionized pellets in the system that extracts the calcium from the deposits from the limestone in the ground.

Your tap water is perfect for cleaning a bike.
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Old 11-01-20, 08:32 AM
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Copper is very sensitive to salt. So if there was any salt in your water you would have known by now.

A water conditioner that is backwashing and rinsing properly should produce water with zero salt in it.
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Old 11-01-20, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by SpeedRanger View Post
For about six months I've been washing my bikes using water generated from a pellet salt softener. I was wondering if this will harm the bikes in the long term as the frames and wheels are aluminum with a mix of carbon or aluminum stems and seat post. Groupsets are all mid range Shimano.
Should I switch over to using city supplied water or stick with the salt water?
Technically, hard water is “salt water”. It just doesn’t happen to be sodium chloride water. A “salt” is any inorganic chemical that results from the combination of negatively charged ion and a positively charged ion. In chemical nomenclature, the positively charged ion is first in the name while the negatively charged ion is the second part. “Sodium chloride”, for example has positively charged sodium ions and negatively charged chloride ions in equal proportion. In solid form they are in a crystal lattice and in solution they are loosely combined with each other in the liquid matrix. In hard water, the common “salt” is calcium carbonate or magnesium carbonate...often both.

Magnesium and calcium are the problem. They interfere with detergents often causing the surfactant to crash out of solution which makes it ineffective as a cleaner. Ion exchange resins “exchange” two sodium for each magnesium or calcium in the carbonate resulting in a sodium carbonate. Sodium carbonate is “softer” because it doesn’t interfere with the surfactant. There isn’t any chloride present because the only thing exchanged was the sodium.

Chloride is what does the damage to metal parts. It can react with iron and aluminum to make both iron and aluminum chloride. Both of those are less stable then the oxide of aluminum and iron which results in exchange of the chloride for oxygen and release of the chloride. The chloride is free to go back and pluck out more of the metal.

Bottom line: It’s okay to wash your bike with softened water.

If you want even more nerdy information, we humans can’t drink water with a lot of sodium chloride in it because it draws water out of our tissues and causes dehydration. (Cats can drink salt water because their kidneys filter out the salt.) We can tolerate a higher load of other kinds of salts like carbonates.
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Old 11-01-20, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by SpeedRanger View Post
For about six months I've been washing my bikes using water generated from a pellet salt softener. I was wondering if this will harm the bikes in the long term as the frames and wheels are aluminum with a mix of carbon or aluminum stems and seat post. Groupsets are all mid range Shimano.
Should I switch over to using city supplied water or stick with the salt water?
If you're using the brine regen waste water then I would stop using it, but if you're using what comes out of the faucet your bike should be fine, other than galvanic corrosion that can occur between the aluminum and the carbon fiber from the DHMO that is in it. But that will be in the city supplied water as well, so use some caution around it /s.
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Old 11-01-20, 10:58 AM
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I live in a hard water region -- Wisconsin is basically a layer cake of sandstone and limestone, and west of the continental divide we use well water. The house I live in was built in the early 60's and has 3 water supplies: Hard, soft, and hot. Soft water feeds the hot water heater, wash machine, and a few other things. Cold tap water is hard. The outside faucets are hard water. The idea is that softened water isn't harmful, but watering your lawn with it is wasteful. Because the house was modified since it was built, you actually have to follow the pipes to figure out which is which.

Hard water has two main effects. When heated, it comes out of solution, which means it will build up in your hot water heater over time. You'll also see it in the bottom of your tea kettle. It also reacts with soap to form soap scum. Having gotten sick of scrubbing the shower and bath tub, I banned soap in my house, and we use liquid body wash, which doesn't contain soap.
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Old 11-02-20, 12:52 PM
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Thanks for the replies, I'll stick with using the softner water. Now the wife is mad at me for being more concerned about washing the bikes than drinking the stuff.
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