What is Hard Water?
Hard water is water that contains a large number of dissolved compounds of calcium and magnesium, and sometimes, other minerals.
Specifically, any water with more than 7 grains per gallon (gpg) of calcium carbonate is considered hard water.
The hardness level can also be expressed in parts per million (ppm), or milligrams per litre (mg/L).
The Disadvantages Of Hard Water
Thankfully, calcium in water is not a health hazard. On the contrary, multiple studies have proved that it can be beneficial to your body in various ways. That is the reason why some quality household water filters may involve a step called remineralization, during which it is added back into your drinking water.
Despite all the possible health benefits when consumed, the calcium, along with other minerals, can still cause problems at a high concentration in the water.
1. Damages on water pipes and appliances
Many households with hard water deal with limescale buildup inside their pipe systems as well as water fixtures and appliances.
Depending on the level of hardness, the residue can ruin the appearance of the equipment (causing stains on the faucets, for example), or wreak havoc on them internally (forming limescale in the pipe system and appliances, resulting in broken details, clogging, and leakage). Damage tends to take less time to become visible and is more serious on equipment where the water flows are slow. It’s the worst on your boiler, traditional or tankless water heater, washing machine, and pipes.
2. Skin irritation
The high pH and mineral content in hard water can be the cause of various skin problems, including dryness, itchiness, clogged pores, and acne. That’s the reason why a dermatologist may sometimes suggest using bottled water for face wash when you’re having an acne breakout.
3. Stains that persist
The minerals in hard water tend to stick to surfaces. That’s how they create unhygienic looking spots and stains on your glassware, tiles, cars, showerheads, toilet bowls, and bathtubs. To add insult to injury, they have the ability to neutralize soap and detergents. As a result, these stains usually take extra effort and extra solution to clean.
Signs You Have Hard Water
If the symptoms below sound familiar, it’s likely that you’re exposed to hard water.
- A clogged showerhead.
- A subtle layer of white on your skin after a shower.
- A film of residue on your glassware, mirrors, tiles, or your car after cleaning. If the hard water also happens to contain a decent amount of iron, you will find yourself spending hours scrubbing yellowish stains on your tiles, toilet bowl, and bathtub.
- Roughened laundry, clothes that fade quickly, and white clothes turning yellow after a few washes.
- Slower flow over time and your plumbing requiring constant maintenance due to limescale.
- Mineral residue at the bottom of the kettle or the water container of a coffee maker. Leakage and damages to various water appliances.
The Benefits Of Water Softening Systems
There are good reasons why household water softening systems are becoming so popular.
Scale-free Pipe System
As explained earlier, the minerals in hard water tend to stay and create limescale on pipes and cause frequent damages.
The whole house water softening process removes the minerals responsible for the formation of limescale. Thus, it can effectively eliminate the cause of the problem in the first place. It’s one of the most effective ways to cut maintenance costs on your plumbing in the long run.
By preventing mineral buildup, a water softener helps reduce leakage and prolong the life of your household appliances.
Smoother Hair and Skin
Showerhead filters, while proven to be effective at improving water quality, do not have the capability to remove the hard minerals in it.
If it’s hard water you’ve been using and you’re having little luck with your skin and hair care, try a softener. It can really be a game-changer in reducing skin irritation and hair dryness.
That said, while most people enjoy the smoothness and “clean” feeling of soft water, some may find it unpleasant. When it’s not a medical or dermatological problem, it will become a matter of personal preference.
Soft, Durable Clothes That Won’t Discolor
When you wash with soft water, your clothes won’t get hard mineral stains. Detergents and soap also dissolve better, and as a result, you will need less detergent to wash the same amount of clothes.
Shining Clean Glassware And Silverware
A water softener either removes or alters the structure of the minerals, preventing them from sticking to surfaces. Thanks to that, you should no longer see a calcium film on your mirrors, glasses, or annoying spots on your car after washing.
How to Soften Hard Water
Below are the two most effective methods to take care of water hardness.
1. Whole-house filtration
Modern whole house water filtration systems are a common solution to sediment, rust, algae, and even harmful contaminants. Unfortunately, most of them are not designed for the removal of minerals.
2. Whole-house water softening
Water softening systems can either replace the minerals in the water with sodium or change their forms so that they won’t adhere to surfaces. That’s how they reduce limescale.
Whole-house water softening systems are very efficient at eliminating hardness-related issues, at much cheaper prices than RO systems. The problem is that they may introduce sodium into your water, while not removing other harmful substances. Nonetheless, that is solvable if you install a small RO system under the sink. That way, you can have both soft water for hygienic purposes, and salt-free, chemical-free, and heavy metal-free water for drinking.