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Old 23-05-2007, 22:52   #1
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A Cheaper Pickling Solution

Not too long ago at a watermaker seminar the roving representative hosting the seminar told of an alternative to using the "harsh" chemicals Spectra sells. He said to fill the system with about two gallons of cheap vodka or everclear. The alcohol supposedly prevents biologic growth. Had I been able to find a ready source of everclear here in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico, I would have used it. Instead, I had to use the factory supplied chemicals.

Has anyone ever used alcohol as a pickling solution? Did it hurt the system at all? How was the product right after recovering the system?
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Old 23-05-2007, 23:53   #2
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i reckon itd be bloody great, water with a kick
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Old 24-05-2007, 00:03   #3
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Why anyone would want to turn Vodka into water is beyond the imagination - LOL

Now if you can turn sea water into Vodka, I'll buy 2...
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Old 24-05-2007, 00:10   #4
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You can buy the pickling solution direct from King Lee Technologies who supply it to Spectra. $100 for about 10 lbs (versus the $20/8 oz. that Spectra charges). Still steep but go in with a friend and split the cost.

You can also use the pink non toxic RV antifreeze but it's hard to find in tropical countries.
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Old 05-06-2007, 16:45   #5
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pickling with ethyl alcohol (vodka)

Hi: If you look up the chemical resistance charts for polyurethane on the internet you will see that it is rapidly attacked by ethyl alcohol. Since the glue used to make the membrane, as well as some of the o-rings etc, in watermakers are made of this material you will definitely damage any brand of watermaker using everclear or other concentrated ethyl alcohol products such as vodka. I know that Spectra has spent a lot of time effort and money on figuring out what chemicals are safe in their machine, and I assume HRO, Katadyne and the others have done the same. I think it is penny wise and pound foolish to risk damaging an essential, $10,000 piece of equipment experimenting with chemicals. I personally always used Pur chemicals when I had a Pur, just as I use genuine parts in my other equipment. Dino
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Old 07-06-2007, 18:49   #6
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Dino,
Thanks for the info on alcohol attacking membrane glue and seals. Your philosphy of using only chemicals prescribed by the manufacturer is sound. I was only quoting a roving Spectra rep who threw it out as a suggestion. I don't remember whether he actually used that technique. He also said he ran his watermaker in harbors and marinas so he may not have listened closely in the Spectra Rep training. He said he expects membranes to last only about 5 years. Little wonder given the way he treats his.

One concern I do have about the pickling solution that nearly everyone agrees with: Using it does shorten the expected life of the membrane. That is what I would like to prevent. Whenever possible, I let the system perform its fresh water flush every 5 days instead of pickling the membrane. I pickled it for the first time two weeks ago in conjunction with putting the boat on blocks in Guaymas, Mexico. I have nearly 300 hours on my membrane and it still makes great water.

Spectra does list ethylene glycol (pink non toxic RV antifreeze as recommended by Evan in the reply just before yours) as an alternative solution. Unfortunately, I did not have time to search for it in Mexico. I'll buy a few gallons here in case I need to pickle the system again.
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Old 07-06-2007, 18:56   #7
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To everyone,
Here in the Pacific Northwet, pickling is something I haven't needed to do, ever.
I backflush with product water only. Sometimes it goes for over 6 months without being used, and it still produces to spec or even better.
It does however, get a good workout in the summer.

It's my third watermaker on my second sailboat. First an old used Powersurvivor 35, second a Powersurvivor 80 (MUCH better unit) and now a Specra 180 (worlds better than both previous units)
Spectra 180 owner since 1997,


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