You might have heard the phrase ‘hard water’ thrown around. But what does it mean? And could your house maybe have a hard water problem?
The term ‘hard water’ refers to water that has a high concentration of mineral content. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it can have negative effects in certain situations.
The mineral content in hard water doesn’t mean that it is ‘dirty’ or ‘tainted.’ It usually come about when the water flows through some sort of permeable rock or a deposit comprised of things like limestone, chalk, and gypsum.
As the water flows through, some of the mineral content from the deposits end up in the water. This can lead to the water having high concentrations of minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
There are also two categories of ‘hardness’ that water can fall into: temporary and permanent.
Temporary hardness refers to the hard water’s capacity to be ‘re-softened.’ In other words, it can undergo a process like boiling or lime softening in order to remove the mineral content. Temporary hardness usually comes about by the presence of calcium and magnesium ions.
On the other hand, permanent hardness needs more effort to be re-softened. This sort of hard water is usually caused by the presence of calcium sulfate, calcium chloride, magnesium sulfate, or magnesium chloride. These particles cannot be separated through boiling and require something more like a water softener or ion exchange column.
But as mentioned before, hard water isn’t always a bad thing. The minerals can actually be good for your health. Calcium and magnesium are important for your dietary needs and as such can be useful for your body.
However, hard water can also present a number of problems in practical use. Since we use water to clean everything from our dishes to our hair to our clothes, it is important that the water actually does what we want it to: clean.
But the presence of these particular minerals in the water you use can actually have a negative influence on the effectiveness of soaps and detergents. The minerals bind to the soap and create a sort of curd. The active ingredients in soaps can also be inactivated by the minerals, but this also depends on what kinds of ingredients comprise the soap you use.
Hard water can make your clothes feel scratchy and leave spots on your dishes and classes. And it can also leave a thin film on everything from your bathtub to the sink, and even the door on your shower.
If these things don’t bother you, then hard water might not be too much of a problem, but hard water can also cause blockages in your water system. This can make your appliances inefficient and end up costing you money.
So, if you don’t want to have to deal with hard water, you should first figure out whether or not you have hard water in the first place!
Here are some tips to identify hard water:
You see mineral deposits on your glasses and dishware
A common sign of hard water is your glassware is looking a bit opaque. Though minerals can deposit on nearly all of your dishware, it is easiest to see on the glass.
So, if your once shiny and fully-transparent glasses are now looking a bit foggy and have a thin layer of white, even after going through the dishwasher, it’s probably because of hard water. You might also see larger deposits in things like teapots and coffee pots.
If you need to get rid of these deposits right away and softening your water will take too long, you should try removing the spots with vinegar. Making a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar is an easy and quick way to dissolve away mineral deposits. You can also soak your glassware in this solution to help get rid of more stubborn buildup.
There is build-up on your faucets
Another tell-tale sign of hard water is the presence of deposits around your faucets and other plumbing fixtures. Not only do these deposits make your fixtures look dirty and old, but they can also impair its basic functions.
If you don’t want to install a water softener system, you should make sure to clean your appliances regularly to prevent buildup.
Your hair is rough and tangled, but it wasn’t before
This can be one of the most annoying aspects of having hard water. Hard water can make your hair dry and brittle, and this can cause your hair to tangle easily.
This can occur with hard water for multiple reasons. First, the minerals from the water can end up in your hair, even though you think you’ve cleaned it. And secondly, the minerals in hard water can render many soaps inactive – this includes your shampoo!
One way to combat this is to invest in shampoo that specifically combats the effects of hard water. GiftWits suggests a number of amazing clarifying shampoos. You can read about them here.
There’s decreased water flow
One of the most difficult things to fix from a hard water problem is problems in your water system itself. When mineral deposits lead to build-ups, this can occur throughout your water system, making it more difficult for water to flow.
And these issues aren’t as easy to fix as deposits on your glasses or rough hair. If you have problems throughout your water system, you should think about investing in a water softener.
There are many different kinds of water softeners, such as salt-based and salt-free softeners, dual tank softeners, and magnetic water descalers. And these are just a few.
At the end of the day, there are many different ways to identify if you have a hard water problem. And with the many issues that come about by hard water, there are also many different solutions.
Some solutions are more expensive than others, and some are more or less time-consuming. But since dealing with hard water depends on what’s affected, you should make sure you know what’s being affected in your own home and prioritize combatting the issues that affect you most.
So, with these tips, hopefully, you’ll be able to identify a hard water problem quickly and implement solutions, so that you don’t have to deal with hard water problems for very long.
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