Water Pal

March 28, 2012 01:01 pm

RUSSEL HUNT, OWNER of RAH manufacturing, runs some tests during a Water Pal training session in West Virginia with Dr. Lynell Braught. In La Grande, Hunt is manufacturing the Water Pal water softening device that Braught designed.
RUSSEL HUNT, OWNER of RAH manufacturing, runs some tests during a Water Pal training session in West Virginia with Dr. Lynell Braught. In La Grande, Hunt is manufacturing the Water Pal water softening device that Braught designed.

Summerville couple turns out device that makes water softer, better tasting

A Summerville couple is setting out on a manufacturing venture, hoping to provide jobs for local workers while improving water quality in homes across the nation and around the world.

With some help from friends and family, Russel and Anita Hunt are turning out the Water Pal, a simple-looking device that wraps around a water pipe and delivers water that’s softer, better tasting, and, by many accounts, better for all uses.

The Hunts acknowledge there are products like it on the market, but nothing that’s made in Northeast Oregon by Northeast Oregon workers. 

To them, that’s the important distinction.

“The cool part is, this is all being done in La Grande,” said Russel.  “We’re not doing it to make a huge amount of money, we’re doing it to make jobs and help build Northeast Oregon.”

Russel Hunt is a registered  nurse and a psychiatric mental heath nurse practitioner in private practice in
La Grande.

He said his interest in helping clients achieve both mental and physical health brought him into contact with Dr. Lynell Braught, the West Virginia health care provider and inventor who designed the Water Pal. 

Russel said he ordered a couple of the devices from Braught and tried them out at home. He was so impressed, he decided he wanted to be a dealer. Hunt asked for a shipment of 50 Water Pals, but Braught said it was impossible.

“He said he didn’t have the capacity to make that many. So last October, I met with him and started learning the technology. I said ‘Why don’t you let me manufacture these?’ “

Hunt formed RAH Manufacturing, with an eye toward turning out a quality product that is researched, tested and inspected at each phase of production. 

The making of a Water Pal involves turning steel rods into coils, covering the assembly with a canvas-like material, then hooking the device to a transformer. 

The Water Pal, wrapped to a pipe with Velcro straps, creates a vortex action as water passes by. While it is not a water filtering device — a disclaimer on Hunt’s Website is careful to note that — Hunt said it cleans the scale off faucets and reduces the presence of chemicals. The water comes out softer and cleaner.

While no detailed studies have been done to test the Water Pal’s benefits, Hunt said that water treated with the device tastes better and crisper, and that less water is
needed for many applications, including gardening.

“The water gets into plants better, carries fertilizer better,” Russel said.

On their website, the Hunts display a photo of tomato plants grown with water treated by the device, next to a comparison photo of plants grown with untreated water. They say the Water Pal tomato plants grew substantially larger in the same amount of time.

Anita Hunt is a gardener and says that she uses less water on her flower beds and her yard. She said soil becomes softer faster with water treated by the Water Pal.

“Anecdotally, if I put it on the yard, the soil will be so soft in two or three hours that I sink in when I walk on it,” she said, adding, “Usually when you water flower beds it takes a day to soften the soil, but I’ve done it in an hour.”

Russel Hunt also said the Water Pal is good for use in hot tubs, reducing the need for cleaning chemicals. 

For now, the Hunts’ manufacturing operation is small. Their son Daniel Hunt winds coils at his home in College Place, Wash., and friend and associate Dale Kilpatrick is doing most of the assembly in La Grande. Kilpatrick’s wife Marilyn and Russel Hunt sew covers for the devices.

“It’s definitely a garage operation for now. It’s an in-your-spare-time effort,” Anita said.

As the enterprise grows, more employees will be added. 

In the meantime, the local economy is getting at least a little boost.

Eastern Oregon Net Inc. built the framework for the Water Pal website, Renae Wilbur of Flying W Design made the logo, and steel for the rods is purchased locally from Eagle Cap Steel.

The business has made about 50 Water Pals, and sold a few units to people in Seattle, Colorado Springs, Colo., and La Grande.

The Hunts say the marketing effort is just getting started, but they’re looking forward to success.

“In three years, we’d like to have a permanent facility providing steady employment and doing ongoing research into applications,” Russel said.

For more information, visit the website Waterpal.biz.