Support - Glossary of Terms


Absorption - The process of one substance penetrating into the structure of another substance.

Acid - A substance which releases hydrogen ions when dissolved in water. Most acids will dissolve the common metals and will react with a base to form a neutral salt and water.

Acidity - A condition of water when the pH is below 7. See pH.

Activated Carbon - A granular material usually produced by the roasting of cellulose base substance, such as wood or coconut shells, in the absence of air. It has a very porous structure and is used in water conditioning as an absorbent for organic matter and certain dissolved gases. Sometimes called "activated charcoal".

Adsorbent - The process in which matter adheres to the surface of an absorbent.

Aeration - The process whereby water is brought into contact with air by spraying or cascading or air is brought into contact with air by air aspirator or bubbling compressed air through the body of water. Closed aeration is used chiefly for oxidation.

Aerobic - An action or process conducted in the presence of air, such as aerobic digestion or organic matter by bacteria.

Algae - Single-celled or simple multi- celled organisms commonly found in surface water which produce their own food trough photosynthesis. Excessive algae growth may cause the water to have undesirable odours or tastes. Decay of algae can deplete the oxygen in water.

Alkali - A substance which creates a bitter taste and a slippery feel when dissolved in water and will turn litmus paper blue. An alkali has a pH greater than seven as is the opposite of an acid. High alkaline waters tend to cause drying of the skin.

Alkalinity - The quantitative capacity of a water or water solution to neutralize all acid. It is usually measured by titration with a standard acid solution of sulfuric acid and expressed in terms

Alternating Systems - A multiple-unit system which functions with one or more units in service and one or more on standby.

Anaerobic Organism - An organism that can thrive in the absence of oxygen, such as bacteria in a septic tank.

Anion - A negatively charged ion in solution, such as bicarbonate, chloride or sulfate.

Anion Exchange - An ion exchange process in which anions in solution are exchanged for other anions from an ion exchanger. In demineralization, for example, bicarbonate, chloride and sulfate anions are removed from solution in exchange for a chemically equivalent number of hydroxide anions from anion exchange resin.

Aquifer - A layer or zone below the surface of the earth which is capable of yielding a significant volume of water.

Artesian Well - (flowing and non-flowing) A well where the water rises above the surface of the water in the aquifer. It is a flowing artesian well if the water rises above the surface of the earth.

Atom - The smallest particle of an element that can exist either alone or in combination with similar particles of the same element or of a different element.

Attrition - The process in which solids are worn down or ground down by friction, often between particles of the same material. Filter media and ion exchange materials are subject to attrition during backwashing, regeneration and service.


Backwash - The process in which beds of filter or ion exchange media are subjected to a flow opposite to their service flow direction to loosen the bed and to flush suspended matter collected during the service run to waste.

Bacteria - Unicellular micro-organisms which typically reproduce by cell division. Although usually classed as plants, bacteria contain no chlorophyll.

Base - A substance which release hydroxyl ions when dissolved in water. Bases react with acids to form a neutral salt and water.

Beaver Fever - See Giardia lamblia.

Bed - The ion exchange or filter media in a column or other tank or operational vessel.

Bed Depth - The height of the ion exchange or filter media in the vessel after preparation for service.

Bicarbonate Hardness - The hardness of a water due to the presence of calcium and magnesium bicarbonates, usually the major component of carbonate hardness or total hardness.

Birm - The trade name for manganese dioxide-coated aluminum silicate used as an oxidizing-catalyst filter for iron and manganese reduction.

Bleach - A strong oxidizing agent ad disinfectant formulated to break down organic matter and destroy biological organisms. Household bleach is also referred to as sodium hypochlorite, which is equivalent to 3% to 5% available free chlorine.

Bridging - In water softening, the caking in a dry-salt brine tank which causes failure of the liquid or brine beneath the dry salt to become saturated. The result of bridging is insufficient salt in the regenerate solution to properly regenerate the cation resin.

The ability of particles to form a crust like film over void spaces within a filter medium or membrane.

Brine - A strong solution of salt(s), such as the sodium chloride brine used in the regeneration of ion exchange water softeners, but also applied to the mixed sodium, calcium and magnesium chloride waste solution from regeneration.


Calcium - (Ca) One of the principal elements making up the earth's crust. Calcium compounds, when dissolved, make water hard. The presence of calcium in water is a factor contributing to the formation of scale and insoluble soap curds which are an indication of hard water.

Calcium Carbonate - CaCO3 A chemical compound found in nature as calcite (in limestone, marble and chalk) and aragonite (in pearls) and in plant ashes, bones and many shells.

Calcium Carbonate Equivalent - A figure (usually in ppm) used in calculating ion exchange capacities which states how much calcium carbonate would be equal to a certain amount of another mineral.

Calcium Hypochlorite - CaCO3 A chemical compound used as a bleach and a source of chlorine in water treatment. Commercial grades contain 70% available chlorine. It is specifically useful because it is stable as a dry powder and can be formed into pellets.

Capacity - An expression of the quantity of an undesirable material which can be removed by a water conditioner between servicing of the media, i.e., cleaning regeneration or replacement, as determined under standard test conditions. For ion exchange water softeners, the capacity is expressed in grains of hardness removal between successive regeneration and it related to the pound of salt used in regeneration. For filters, the capacity may be expressed in the length of time or total gallons delivered between servicing.

Carbonate Alkalinity - Alkalinity due to the presence of the carbonate ion

Carbon Dioxide - A naturally-occurring gad (CO2) present in the atmosphere and formed by the decay of organic matter. Carbon dioxide is naturally present in air to the extent of 0.03% by volume and 0.05% by weight, in rainwater at 2 to 6 ppm and in most supplies from zero to 50 ppm. Dissolved in water it can form carbonic acid.


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