What You Need to Know About Hard Water

Did you know that as a drinking water hard water can deliver health benefits? Many beverages that make use of drinking hard water can help in the dietary requirements of individuals particularly those that need more calcium and magnesium in their system. What else do we need to know about hard water?

What is Hard Water?

Initially, let us try and understand what hard water is. Generally, it is defined as water that contains minerals, specifically high concentrations of calcium and magnesium. However, it should be clarified that not all water that contains minerals are considered as hard.

This naturally occurs in conditions where calcium or magnesium carbonates like limestone or chalk are penetrated by water. Temporary hardness can also be achieved with water as bicarbonate minerals are dissolved to create magnesium and calcium cations. Reduction of this hardness is done with the addition of calcium hydroxide and boiling the water.

In contrast, permanent water hardness is linked to magnesium and calcium sulfate contents. These minerals do not precipitate as the water undergoes boiling. Basically, permanent water hardness represents the sum of the calcium hardness together with the magnesium hardness. Softening can be done with the use of a water softener or ion exchange column.

Hard Water Effects on Body

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hard water does not pose any adverse health effects. Extremely hard water can even supplement the requirements of the body. The negative health effects are mainly attributed to the dissolved salts contained. Hard water does not cause hypermagnesemia, which is the result of renal insufficiency to excrete magnesium. It has nothing to do with the magnesium intake in your diet.

Hard water can also affect your skin in terms of scummy residue that it can leave behind making it difficult to rinse off. These residue can clog the pores of your skin, which can result in skin breakouts and other conditions like eczema and acne. This is because the natural oils are distributed through the skin pores so when these are clogged, the oil is trapped and shows up in the form of zits and pimples.

Clogged pores due to hard water can also result in itchy, dry, and irritated skin. This happens because moisture is stripped from the skin while natural oils are prevented to lubricate the skin and hold the moisture in. People constantly exposed to hard water may appear older than they are because of the condition of their skin.

The effects of hard water also extends to your hair. Just like in the case of soap, hard water can also make it difficult to wash your hair with shampoo. Hard water makes the scales of the hair stand up creating a tangled and rough feeling.

When the hair becomes rough and tangled, rinsing out the shampoo becomes more difficult. This is perhaps the reason why natural soap in commercial shampoos have been replaced with synthetic surfactants to balance out the effect of hard water.

What to Do with Hard Water

Should you just live with this condition? What can you do with the hard water to negate its effects? One of the things that you can do is to use vinegar. The calcium in the hard water is highly reactive to acids like vinegar. The calcium deposits that buildup on fixtures can be easily removed in about an hour using vinegar. Distilled vinegar can also be used to deal with white film spots, mold, germs, and bacteria.

Another way to deal with hard water is to control the temperature through the water heater. Did you know that running hot water through the heater will contribute to the buildup of stains and minerals? Mineral precipitation happens at the hottest section of the plumbing system, which is the heating unit. By reducing the temperature of the heating unit, the accumulation of the scales will be delayed. Regularly flushing the unit will also help limit the effects of hard water.

The best solution of course would be to treat the hard water.

How Do You Treat Hard Water?

Commercial solutions in treating hard water are many. You can find water softeners, water filters, reverse osmosis, and electromagnetic water conditioners. Mineral deposits can be removed by using rinse agents. These mineral deposits can normally be found in dishwashers and crockery.

Boiling white vinegar is an effective way to remove these deposits. However, the least expensive and most comprehensive solution is the use of an electromagnetic water conditioner as a way to filter the hard water.

Water Filters for Hard Water

The choice of a hard water filter system can be quite difficult considering the number of options currently available. What is out there for you?

  • Ion Exchange Water Softener – traditional water softening solution that replaces the hard minerals with potassium or sodium ions. The sodium ions contained in special beads are released as the hard water passes through it to complete the exchange. The sodium ions need to be regenerated once all the beads have been saturated.

  • This type of system relies on a brine tank where the salt is kept. The flushing cycle can be initiated manually, electronically, or with the use of a sensor. This system is simple, safe, and effective in addressing problems associated with hard water.

  • Salt-Free Hard Water Conditioners – also known as Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) technology, it is a salt-free solution to hard water. Instead of removing the minerals, it acts as a catalyst to form stable hardness crystals that do not stick to the surfaces. This is currently considered as the most effective non-salt water conditioning solution to prevent the formation of mineral scales.

  • TAC technology consistently reduces the level of hardness by more than 90%. This makes it more effective than electronic and magnetic water conditioning solutions that also prevent the formation of hard water scales. This solution also does not need regeneration or backwash so it is friendlier to the environment.

  • Polyphosphate – this conditioning solution is effective for cold water and low volume applications. Polyphosphate is dissolved in the water and begins to coat the calcium, magnesium, and iron minerals. This makes it impossible to precipitate the water and result in hard water problems.

  • The crystals are placed in a housing where the water will flow to dissolve it. This technology is available even in more traditional filtration solutions. These types of filters are effective when dealing with small amounts of water like those used with ice makers for example. This solution though may lead to bacterial contamination.

  • Magnetic and Electronic Water Conditioners – this fairly simple technology makes use of an energy field that is created to allow the water to flow through. When the water passes the field the hardness agents are altered to the point that precipitation is impossible. This means that it cannot attach to the fixtures, so the water can harmlessly pass down the drain. Although used predominantly in large scale operations, many detractors believe that this technology is not satisfactory for residential applications.

If you want to know more about hard water and how to address the problems associated with it, contact Scott English Plumbing immediately.