In this ClearWave Water Conditioner review, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about the ClearWave CW-125 Water Conditioner.
Unfortunately, seeing as the ClearWave is an electromagnetic water softener, we’re probably going to recommend that you stay away from it. We’ve written about howmost electromagnetic water softeners don’t work in the past, but maybe ClearWave is an exception. The officialWikipedia page on magnetic water softening says that the treatment method is regarded as “unproven and unscientific,” but there’s still a surprising amount of anecdotal evidence suggesting otherwise.
Today, we’re going to look at an “independent” research study that Field Control LLC hired the INRS in Quebec to perform. After that, we’ll look at the price of the ClearWave. Lastly, we’ll evaluate what former customers have said about it before giving you our recommendation.
Read More>> Water softener cost and pricing guide
About Field Control LLC
The ClearWave Hard Water Treatment system is a Field Control LLC product, a company that specializes in “improving indoor environments.” That mostly means improving air quality. Their tagline, in fact, is “we make air quality fresh, clean, and pure.”
Field Control was founded in 1927 in Illinois for that exact purpose, but now they manufacture all sorts of products for residential and commercial applications in their main headquarters in Kinston, North Carolina.
Let’s take a look at one of their water treatment products, the ClearWave Water Conditioner.
ClearWave CW-125 Water Conditioner
The ClearWave isn’t a water softener. It’s an electromagnetic water conditioner. We’ve written about the dubious claims of a lot of electromagnetic “water softening” companies in the past. The short of it is this: decades of research performed on the effectiveness of electromagnetic softeners prove them to be only marginally effective at best and a downright pseudoscience at worst.
ClearWave: Confirmed Effective by the Research Center on Water, Earth, and the Environment in Quebec - a Breakthrough?
Field Control LLC hired the INRS in Quebec to perform a study on the effectiveness of their particular electromagnetic water conditioner. The results are actually pretty surprising, but we’re more than a little skeptical. First, a study funded by a company to investigate the efficacy of one of their own products is, by definition,not “independent.”
The study goes so far as to say that the ClearWave is effective at reducing limescale over a 48 hour period in stainless steel pipes, but it’s missing some key elements typically included in research papers of its kind.
For example, at no point in the paper do either of the authors mention any limitations to their research, like the fact that they only recorded the limescale over a period of two days (at most). That isn’t a long time to evaluate limescale build-up.
Second, they only used stainless steel pipes, which are pretty uncommon if your house was built after 1980. Nowadays, copper and PVC are some of the most dominant piping materials.
Third, and maybe most importantly, their experimental unit is set up in a closed loop with roughly three feet of only stainless steel piping after the interaction with the ClearWave. On their website, though, they still claim, “ClearWave works on all types of pipes including copper, PVC, PEX, galvanized, and stainless steel.”
Make no mistake, however, we’re not saying that the study’s results are inconclusive because they didn’t specifically look at these things, but we do have to question why they didn’t even mention them. If researchers are trying to design for a particular outcome, it’s pretty common to exclude any confounding variables -- even if those variables are present in practical, everyday use -- without mentioning them at all.
Timothy Keister writes more extensively about that exact problem in“Non-Chemical Devices: Thirty Years of Myth-Busting.”
Read More>> Do water conditioners really work?
So, Does the ClearWave Work or Not?
Well, yes and no.
It’s likely that the ClearWave works very well for some applications, according to the study above. Also, there are a number of reviews that claim the ClearWave is a very effective product. On Amazon, where the product has a 3.5-star average, 51% of the over 250 reviews for the ClearWave CW-125 are 5-stars. For instance, the most popular positive Amazon review reads:
“Ok I waited 4 months to review, because it does not work instantly. Toilet bowls are no longer staining (no more scrubbing with a stone), faucets are not dripping and best of all finally last week my hot water finally got to full temp.”
It’s interesting that the reviewer had to wait 4 months to see results, but if he/she found that the system works for his/her house, maybe electromagnetic water softening is effective.
However, there are also a distressing number of negative reviews, like the ones titled, “Pseudoscience for your water,” “Useless in South Florida,” and “Yes -- it’s a ripoff.”
All of them are verified purchases. We recommend thatyou read them for yourself before making a final decision on whether or not you want to buy the ClearWave CW-125.
How Much Does the ClearWave CW-125 Cost?
Now, we get to one of the most important points (and maybe the most enticing reason to try the ClearWave): the price.
The ClearWave CW-125 is only $175 on Amazon, and it’s an Amazon Prime product. Keep in mind, however, that if you buy it through Amazon, there are usually some drawbacks on the warranty. If you find out that it doesn’t work for your home (as others have done before), you’re almost certainly out of luck.
However, most water softeners run anywhere from $400 to $4000, including professional installation. The ClearWave is simple enough to be installed on your own, so you might be interested in giving it a shot despite the shady history of electromagnetic water softening research.
Keep in mind, however, that you need to install it atleast10 feet away from any television, radio, or computer in order to avoid any interference.
Conclusion: ClearWave CW-125 Water Conditioner Review
We aren’t exactly optimistic when it comes to electromagnetic water softening. There are too many shady studies out there that suggest significant benefits, but then there are also tons of people saying that the systems didn’t have any effect whatsoever on their limescale build-up.
Does the ClearWave CW-125 work? There’s only one way to find out: see for yourself. Our guess is that itkinda works. It probably works well enough in a limited number of applications, but there isn’t enough research to say exactly what those applications are (and there isn’t enough research to make any recommendations on how long you’ll need the system installed in order to reap those benefits). There are any number of confounding variables that go completely unaddressed in the INRS study, and that’s a bit of a red flag in our opinion.
The good news is, if you do try out the ClearWave CW-125, it doesn’t cost as much as a traditional water softener. As long as you find out what the warranty is before you buy it, you might even have the option of returning it if (and/or when) it doesn’t work.
If you want to try a water conditioner with the same benefits that’s scientifically valid, check out our line of template assisted crystallization water conditioners.