Is Hard Water Giving You a Hard Time? Here Are 5 Fixes!
If you live with hard water, you already know how aggravating it can be. Although it doesn't pose an immediate health problem, it inconveniences you by clogging water pipes, ruining appliances, staining dishes, damaging clothes, and irritating your skin.
What's more, long-term consumption of hard water has side effects. For example, over time, hard water can clog the pipes supplying it and cause leakage.
Unfortunately, many households in the US are supplied with hard water, so it's an issue that concerns a lot of people. If your home is one of those experiencing this problem, don't fret. There are many solutions to your hard water problem, a few of which we will discuss in this article.
What is Hard Water?
Hard water is water with high mineral concentrations. It is created when water passes through chalk, gypsum or limestone deposits. These mineral deposits contain calcium or magnesium compounds (sulfate, bicarbonates, and carbonates) that dissolve into the water as it passes through them.
When water contains these dissolved minerals, its "hardness" manifests in many ways. For example, hard water will not lather properly but react with soap to form an insoluble substance called soap scum. This is why your hands feel slimy if you wash them with hard water. Hard water also forms an insoluble scale-like layer in kettles and boilers, causing them to deteriorate fast.
Types of Water Hardness
The type of water hardness depends on the specific compound present in the water. Generally, there are two types of water hardness:
Temporary hardness is primarily caused by the presence of calcium and magnesium bicarbonate compounds in the water. This type of hardness can easily be reduced by boiling the water or the addition of lime.
Permanent hardness is caused by the presence of sulfates and chlorides of both calcium and magnesium in water. These compounds are usually soluble and aren't easily removed from the water. They cannot be removed from the water by boiling but by other methods like ion- exchange and water softening. Permanent hardness is the cause of the hard white scales seen in kettles or boilers.
How Do You Know if Your Water is Hard?
Hard water looks just like soft water. It's transparent, so you can't notice the difference just by looking. However, the presence of calcium and magnesium minerals gives water certain properties that can help you to identify if it's hard. Here are a few signs you can use to tell:
The presence of soap residue, build-up, or scales in your bathtub, sink, or shower head
Clogged pipes in your water line or appliances ( water heater, dishwasher, or washing machine)
Metallic taste in the water
Scales in your kettles or boilers
Your skin feels slimy or irritated after you wash your hands or take a bath
Dry skin or dull hair
Stains on clothing
Spots or cloudy films on glass cups or dishes
Reduced pressure in water faucets
Sometimes you may notice all these telltale signs but need confirmation from a reliable source. In that case, you can purchase a hard water test kit to use on your water or call a plumber to investigate.
5 Easy Solutions to Your Hard Water Problem
There are several ways to deal with your hard water problems effectively. Some of them include:
Boiling can soften temporary hard water. This is because the bicarbonate compounds present can easily be broken down by heat. During boiling, the minerals causing hardness are precipitated out of the water as carbonates and in the form of whitish residue. The water sieved out after this process can be called soft water. Note that boiling does not eliminate permanent hardness in water.
Use a Magnetic Water Conditioner
These devices use a magnetic field to soften water. Although they don't completely soften water, they reduce the level of hardness considerably. Hence they're more suitable for homes with moderately hard water. Magnetic conditioners work by using the magnetic field to separate chemical ions. Once separated, it becomes hard for the chemicals to clump together to form limescale on any surface. This reduces the damage hard water does.
Installing a Water Softener
Water softeners remove the minerals that make water hard. Buying a water softener for your home is one of the most effective and convenient solutions to hard water problems. However, before you choose a water softener, you'll have to consider:
If it's the right size - You have to choose a softener that can handle the level of hardness in your water.
The type of softener - Ion-exchange softeners are the most effective type available.
The price of the softener and installation costs - Water softeners may seem expensive (their prices range from $500 to $2000), but they're ultimately a good investment. They'll help save the cost of repairing hard water damage to appliances and plumbing fixtures. You can find the best rates on BOS.
The calcium and magnesium compounds present in hard water make it alkaline. Adding vinegar which is acidic, will neutralize them in the water. However, adding Vinegar isn't an ideal solution for drinking water. It can only be used when you want to clean, wash dishes, or do laundry. For example, you can soak utensils that have limescale build-up (like kettles) in distilled Vinegar for an hour or so before washing them. You can also spray Vinegar on surfaces with scales or water films.
Using a Cleaning Aid
Hard water doesn't lather well with soaps. You often have to use lots of soap when washing things with this type of water. You can solve that problem using cleaning aids like Rinse aid or detergents specifically made for hard water. These products react with hard water and prevent soap scum from forming.
Hard water may give you a hard time at first, but once you learn the simple tricks to handle it, you can get rid of the problem once and for all. Out of the many solutions, the one you choose to use will depend on the severity of your hardness problem. For example, if you have slightly hard water, you can opt to use vinegar or a magnetic conditioner. But if you have moderate or extremely hard water, consider investing in a good water softener or ion exchange filter.