Hard water is prevalent in most communities nowadays. It is a type of water which includes high mineral content. In some areas, it even contains aluminum and manganese that can affect one’s health and other domestic activities.
Hard water is formed when the water is filtered through chalk and limestone deposits that are made of magnesium, iron, and calcium.
According to studies, hard water can pose few health benefits and serious problems in home settings if not given action immediately.
In this article, we will understand better what hard water is, its pros and cons, signs that you have hard water at your home, and tips on using hard water for domestic use such as cleaning utensils, taking a bath, and hair washing.
In school, we have learned that water contains two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen, thus H2O. Water is a good solvent and it can easily pick up impurities, according to Water Research Center. Pure water is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.
Water can sometimes combine with Carbon Dioxide (CO2) to form a better solvent. As the water moves through rock, soil, lakes, and rivers; a weak carbonic acid (H2CO3 or H2O and CO2) dissolves even the smallest amount of minerals and includes them in the solution.
Magnesium, iron, and calcium are the most common mineral that goes with water and makes it a ‘hard water’. The hardness of the water becomes greater as calcium, iron, and magnesium content increases too.
Iron, calcium, and magnesium are not bad for the body. However, these sediments can possibly carry other harmful bacteria with them. A study in 2014 by the University of Arizona said that scaling of hard water is responsible for the growth of bacteria in the residential water.
Having a hard water is the issue of both the rural and urban communities. In the United States alone, 85% of homes’ water source is hard water, according to Water Research Center.
The use of hard water inside the home can be a nuisance in every chore: from cleaning the dishes, washing the clothes, and even taking a bath.
Here are some of the indications that will tell you that the water in your home has high mineral content:
If your tap water has a bad taste and disgusting smell, then it is an indication that there is something wrong with your water source.
The water can have too much iron, dirt, or algae, thus, it can taste like metal or moldy, or it can taste like dirt.
On the other hand, hard water can smell like rotten eggs because of the hydrogen sulfide gas that reacts with magnesium, according to Water Right Group.
If your water causes unusual red stains when washing utensils and cleaning the house, then it could be an indication of too much iron content.
Your porcelain collection can have brown to reddish stains which are impossible to come from the soap when washing. In addition, glasses can have spots and a thin film on the sides when it dries. The same is also true when cleaning the walls, tubs, faucets, and sinks.
Apart from red spots, sometimes, hard water causes white spots too. These white spots are the soap or detergent we use for cleaning that doesn’t mix well with the minerals in the water. It forms a sticky solution or soap curd.
These soap curd can be left on the walls, utensils and other parts of your house. It can lead to the growth of germs that can soon cause diseases when left untreated.
Soap curd gives problems to our house helpers because it will double their effort in cleaning the house since soap remains are hard to clean. However, no matter how hard they scrub and wash the utensils, the problem will continue to exist over again not unless the source of water is changed.
In addition, hard water can also leave a sticky film on the body when taking a bath. This type of water prevents the removal of bacteria and dirt in the body, and may soon lead to irritation. The hair could become dull, sticky, and lifeless.
If your pipes and shower heads are clogged, then it could be an indication of hard water.
Deposits like iron, magnesium, and other minerals can build inside your pipes and weaken water pressure. This might cause restriction of water flow which will eventually cause a major plumbing issue.
This problem is common among old steel pipes. However, companies now offer modern homes with copper or PVC pipes to avoid problems like this.
As mentioned above, hard water causes soap to mix ineffectively in water. This can ruin your shower time and irritate your hair and skin.
When showering, the soap is difficult to wash away and it leaves a residue after rinsing. You’ll notice that you won’t be as clean as to how you use to be right after taking a bath.
Because of this, your skin can soon become dry and itchy. Its natural moisture is washed away and you’ll likely increase the risk of developing eczema and other skin problems.
When washing clothes in a hard water, it can feel scratchy and harsh after drying. The soap does not mix well with the water and it makes it rough and stiff, according to Water Right Group.
The dirt from the clothes won’t be removed and it can cause graying of white fabrics and dullness of bright shirts. Moreover, a foul odor can possibly develop in your favorite clothes too.
The water can also shorten the life of your favorite clothes. Finally, hard water can waste your time on washing your clothes for many times to make it clean once again.
Lastly, hard water can cause costly and inefficient maintenance of appliances that use water. The mineral deposits can cause havoc and clog which will make the appliances less efficient. Poor efficiency is equal to higher electrical bills.
For example, the ice maker of your fridge can stop functioning once the valves become clogged. Washing machines can wear out fast if you use hard water constantly for your laundry.
You cannot appreciate for now how hard water wastes your money. But in the long run, the estimated water maintenance costs could be from $800 and above in one year.
Magnesium and calcium content in hard water can help in the diet of people, according to the National Research Council (National Academy of Sciences).
The calcium content can even help make the children’s teeth and bones grow stronger.
In some studies, there is a correlation between lower cardiovascular diseases and hard water drinking but more investigation is needed to prove this thesis.
Generally, hard water does not pose a major health risk for the people. However, it can create problems inside the home.
First, the undissolved minerals in the water can build up in the pipes or home appliances. It can clog it and weaken the water supply. Second, the high mineral content can cause damage to our clothes, utensils, and other things inside the home. Lastly, it can cause skin irritation and hair problems in the long run.
If these problems are left untreated, you can spend 25 to 50% more money in the repair or renewal of appliances and plumbing system.
Now, here are the top five tips to solve the hard water problem in your home:
The first tip to address issues of hard water is through the use of vinegar and baking soda solution. The acid of vinegar can dissolve the red and white spots of hard water in your utensils, clothes, and other parts of the house. Do this tip every time you wash your clothes or utensils.
The vinegar can also help your hair remove the dirt build up when taking a bath. Use an apple cider vinegar for your hair and it will make it soft and tangle free after showering.
To do this, mix one tablespoon of vinegar with three cups of water. Put it in your hair, massage it gently, and rinse with warm water. This method must be done every day to combat hair dryness, according to Hair Buddha.
Apart from baking soda and vinegar, you can also use the lemon as an alternative. Its acidity level can combat chlorine and other minerals that build up in the faucets, utensils, skin, and hair.
Running hot water in hot water heater can contribute to the buildup of minerals and appearance of stains, according to Aquasana.
The precipitation of the mineral happens at the hottest part of the pipes. In the long run, the heater will accumulate scale and to prevent such thing to happen, you should reduce the temperature of your water. Rinsing too much in hot water with hard water is also not good for the skin and the hair.
Another tip is to flush the heater regularly to avoid the clogging of the sediments in the pipes. In places that use hard water, this is crucial because it adds on the amount of time for the hot water to gather the junk situated below the tank.
Our usual soaps, shampoo, and detergent don’t foam in hard water and often times, it is hard to rinse. This is because soap molecules are negatively charged at one end and hard water is positively charged. When the soap and hard water are combined, it will form no charge at all thus the soap molecule will not be dissolved.
To remove the deposits of hard water on your utensils, you can opt for soaps, detergents, or shampoos that remove films, stains, and build-ups. There are various products that are formulated for hard water and it can withstand the charge of calcium atoms and be able to rinse the soap immediately.
Another tip is through the use of salt-free water softener to combat the effects of hard water in your home. It can remove minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and iron from the source of your water. This is a nice investment for your family.
The salt-free water softener has been widely used since 1989. There are no harsh chemicals being produced by the equipment thus it can make the water soft once again.
This invention works by treating the water with low-level of the magnetic field. In addition, the salt-free water softener is eco-friendly, energy-efficient since it does not use electricity, and it will extend the life of your appliances.
You can wash your dishes, clothes, or even take a bath with a salt-free water softener. This will give you soft skin and tangle-free hair, unlike using hard water directly from your faucets.
Furthermore, it can produce a safe-drinking water that’s why families love to have a salt-free water softener at their homes.
Another effective solution is through the installation of Berkey Water Filter. The Berkey water filter includes a good massage shower head that can help you prevent using hard water for your body.
The water filters of Berkey contains patented calcium, copper, and zinc which is known to remove 95% of chlorine, dirt, and odors in the water. Furthermore, it can reduce hydrogen sulfide, iron oxide, and iron which is dominant in hard water.
This product can be used in both cold and hot water. It reduces damage to the skin and hair, it eliminates molds in the shower stalls, and it lessens vapor and chemical absorption of the body as we enjoy our shower time.
Unlike other brands, the Berkey Shower head water filter can work for up to 20,000 gallons of water. This is proudly made in the United States, thus buyers would be 100% sure of its quality and high-standards.
In sum, the use of hard water does not pose a health hazard to the people however, it must be given action immediately to avoid inconvenience.
According to research, hard water can produce stains in glasswares, clothes, and other parts of the home. It can also irritate the skin and make the hair dry.
To determine if your home runs a hard water, you can run some test or you can check the above-mentioned indications. Meanwhile, minimizing the effects of hard water is easy and you can start with changing the pipes or installing water filters. The water that our family uses must be safe at all times to avoid diseases and live life conveniently.