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Old 08-04-2010, 12:21 AM   #1
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Does Instant Ocean Reef Crystals expire or go bad?

I got about 1/2 bucket of Instant Ocean Reef Crystals given to me. I mixed it in with 30 gallons of RO/DI water and noticed a couple odd things.

First, is wasn't very dry, though the top was sealed on well, it was clumpy and moist, not sugar-like in consistency.

Second, when I mixed it in (I a pump running at the bottom of a 44g BRUTE trash can) it did not completely dissolve overnight. Usually, there is some sitting at the bottom and I just blow it with the power head and it dissolves in no time, but this was different - there were small particles suspended in the water and floating on the surface, like super-tiny beads. When I scooped them up and mushed them, they dissolved. I put a second, stronger power head in pointed up and 2 300W heaters and cranked them to 89. This did the trick, it looked like everything was dissolved.

The third issue was salinity. I unplugged the heaters and let it stir for another day and tested it with my refractometer (I always calibrate before and after testing with RODI water) at 76F. Now, I usually put 1 cup per 2 gallons and then add about another 1-2 cups depending on the amount of water I'm mixing up, and this usually brings it to about 29 or 30, maybe 31. I put in about 16+ cups for roughly 29 gallons and got a salinity of 25 - way past the possible margin of error I'm come across using this method hundreds of times.

I added 2 more cups of salt and am having the same issue with dissolving the salt, had to put the heaters on again. 3 hours later, still particles undissolved at 83.5F and I am noticing a white buildup on the pumps, heaters, and inside of the trash can.

Is this strange, or is it me?

Is this salt OK to use? Does IO/RC go bad? I can't imagine it does, but this just seems strange.

Is it possible that the older the salt, the less concentrated this mix, which would explain the low salinity compared to freshly bought salt?

The only difference I can see is that I always buy the 200g mix in the box, and this is in the 160g bucket with the twist-seal lid.

Would appreciate ANY insight!!!
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Old 08-04-2010, 10:05 AM   #2
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The disolving issue is probably because of the clumping. Moisture must have gotten in and formed some larger blocks of salt that probably don't disolve well. As for the salinity not being what you are used to this could be just from a change in the formula or different types of salt will need slightly more or less i believe. I would probably test the mix before you put it in the tank to make sure the parameters look good. As long as the numbers are ok i would think it is still good to go.
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Old 08-04-2010, 10:05 AM   #3
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Any salt mix that gets wet or moist is suspect and should not be used IMO. The mix was partially dissolved in the bucket and formed some new compunds that now won't dissolve.

If kept dry I doubt there's an expiration date.
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Old 08-04-2010, 10:11 AM   #4
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Quote:
Any salt mix that gets wet or moist is suspect and should not be used IMO. The mix was partially dissolved in the bucket and formed some new compunds that now won't dissolve.
That's probably a good point. Didn't consider that. In the grand scheme of things a new bucket of salt is very cheap compared to what you have invested in the tank. Maybe it is better to pull out the old "better safe then sorry" rule
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Old 08-04-2010, 10:25 AM   #5
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There is no expiration date on salt. If it has moisture in it and got hard and/or clumpy just check the parameters before you use it. Chances are it will be low in alk or calcium. What happens is where the moisture hit the salt, the locally high concentrations of calcium and/or alk will precipitate. This precipitant (most likely calcium carbonate) will not redissolve when you go to mix it. If you test it before using it and bump up whatever parameter is low (ca or alk) it will be perfectly fine to use.
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Old 08-04-2010, 11:10 AM   #6
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Yeah, since this is a customer's tank and not mine, and I've worked hard to get it looking so good, unless the salt is 100% dissolved I guess I'm going to toss the water. I think the white substance is probably calcium carbonate and whatever else that is still floating around in the water (and it still was this morning after overnight @ 85F) that probably would have some kind of impact on the corals.

EDIT: Also, if it's low in Alk or CA, that kind of defeats the main purpose of doing a PWC on this tank since there's no Nitrates and I haven't done a PWC in a while because it basically didn't need it, just needed a cleaning and a boost in trace.

if the parameters check out fine, I may just use it in another FOWLR tank where is have less chance to cause an issue.

The 1/2 bucket was free and was given to the guy I got it from, so I have no idea how long it has been sitting around. It was supposed to be my payment for transporting a 6 foot tall skimmer for one of his customers, but oh well. Maybe he'll give me a discount next time.
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Old 08-04-2010, 12:22 PM   #7
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I would not use due to not knowing the history of where it was stored and how it got wet. I've had that issue with my own buckets and added Ca a/o Alk to get it where I wanted it. Mine got wet from mthe 2 cup sccop I use to add salt to the RODI water tank. PW was running and moved wetting the scoop and I didn't realize it. Another time I needed to one more scoop and my arm was still dripping from using the ph in the mix tank. That made some small clumps that didn't completely dissolve.
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Old 08-04-2010, 12:49 PM   #8
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Think the biggest issue is you cant be 100% sure it got wet from water. What is another liquid spilled on the bucket? Its most likely water but never know
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Old 08-04-2010, 01:02 PM   #9
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Yeah I never thought of that. I guess the moral of this story is...

"Don't trust strange salt"
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