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What is hard water?

When water contains a significant amount of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, the water is referred to as hard water.

Where does hard water come from?

Water is a good solvent and picks up impurities easily. As water moves through soil and rock, it dissolves very small amounts of minerals and holds them in solution. Dissolved calcium and magnesium are the two most common minerals that make water “hard”. The degree of the hardness of water increases as more minerals are dissolved in the water.

What are the effects of hard water?

Hard water interferes with almost every cleaning task, from laundering and dishwashing to bathing and personal grooming.

The amount of hardness minerals in water affects the amount of soap and detergent necessary for cleaning. Soap used in hard water combines with the minerals to form sticky soap curd. Some synthetic detergents are less effective in hard water because the active ingredient is partially inactivated by hardness, even though it stays dissolved. This happens because magnesium, calcium and lime, along with many other minerals are positively charged ions. So when you have the presence of these minerals(positively charged ions) in the water, other positively charged ions will dissolve less easily in hard water than in soft water or water that does not contain these minerals(calcium, magnesium, lime, etc). This is what causes soaps and detergents not to dissolve sufficiently in the hard water, because the sodium and potassium hydroxide which is used in most detergents and soaps provide positively charged ions to promote chemical reactions.

Bathing with soap in hard water leaves a film of soap curd on the skin. The film may prevent soil and bacteria from being removed. Soap curd interferes with the skin returning to its normal slightly acid condition and may lead to irritation. Soap curd left in your hair will make it dull, lifeless and difficult to manage.

When doing laundry in hard water, soap curds lodge in fabric during washing to make fabric stiff and rough. Incomplete soil removal from laundry causes graying of white fabric and the loss of brightness in colors. A sour odor can develop in clothes. Continuous laundering in hard water can shorten the life of clothes as the minerals rub against the fabric during the rinse and agitate cycles.

In addition, soap curds can deposit on dishes, bathtubs and showers, and all water and plumbing fixtures. Hard water also contributes to inefficient and costly operation of water-using appliances.

Heated hard water forms a scale of calcium and magnesium minerals that can clog pipes, reducing water flow and ultimately requiring the piping to be replaced and destroy water using appliances. Due to this lime scale build-up, the efficiency of hot boilers and tanks are reduced. This increases the cost of domestic water heating by about fifteen to twenty percent. Yet another negative effect of lime scale build-up is that it has damaging effects on household machinery, such as laundry machines, dishwashers, solar heating systems, air conditioning units and many other water-based applications.

How do I get rid of hard water?

You get rid of the minerals in your water by softening your water. Water softening is a technique that serves the removal of the ions that cause the water to be hard, in most cases calcium and magnesium ions. Iron ions may also be removed during softening.

The best way to soften the water is to use a water softener unit and connect it directly to the water supply.