When you get tired of low water pressure in your house and tired of always needing to use moisturizers for your dry skin, you may realize the hard water is doing all the damage to your house and body.
Making hard water soft is as simple as having a professional come and install a water softener or an under-sink filter for you or changing little habits around your house and in life to help you combat hard water where it affects you most.
- How to Know if You Have Hard Water
- How To Measure Hard Water Hardness
- Hard Water vs. Soft Water
- The Negative Effects of Hard Water
- What Are the Effects of Hard Water on Health?
- How to Soften Hard Water
- Hard Water Stains
- Best Cleaning Solution for Hard Water Stains
- Frequently Asked Questions and Answered
- Final Words
How to Know if You Have Hard Water
Hard water is water that has dissolved minerals (mostly calcium and magnesium). Soft water is treated with sodium. Pouring water into a glass, you will not be able to tell the difference. You can tell the difference by how it reacts with objects.
Noticing some of these is a sign you have hard water since it will be calcium residue left behind when water evaporates:
- Water spots on clean glassware after taking them out of the dishwater
- Silverware doesn’t look clean.
- Water spots on mirrors of a bathroom
- The dry residue left on shower tile
- Water spots left on faucets that can be scratched off and leave residue on your fingers
- White mineral deposits at the bottom of cooking pots after boiling water on your stovetop. Rust on pipes and water-using appliances
- A sense that your clothes don’t feel clean after washing them with soap and tap water
- Soap doesn’t lather easily. A sense that you have to rinse off shampoo or soap after a shower
Some other ways to check will be to look for these:
- Check your laundry for mineral stains on clean clothes, making the fabric stiff textured.
- Dry or itchy skin after showering. Hard water has a chance to affect skin and hair, drying them out.
If you are wanting a clearer sign for having hard water but do not want to get a water hardness kit. You have the ability at home with 3 simple items to get an estimate of how hard your water is. You need a water bottle, liquid hand soap (Dawn or something simple), and water from the tap.
- Fill the water bottle to almost full of tap water from the faucet
- Add 10 drops of liquid soap
- Shake the bottle
- Check for suds
- If no suds, add 5-10 more drops of liquid hand or dish soap and shake again
- Repeat the last step until there are suds
- 10 drops are going to be close to soft water, 15-20 slightly hard, and anything over 25 drops will be considered hard, and if you had to repeat the process over 50 drops, you have very hard water.
How To Measure Hard Water Hardness
Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon (GPG) or parts per million (ppm). The grain is a unit of weight used for measuring materials like sand or sugar that are larger than water.
The hardness of water is largely determined by the type of rocks, sand, or soil it passes through as it moves toward reservoirs or underground tanks where drinking water is collected. Areas with limestone have hard water because of the high level of calcium carbonate present in the rock. Regions with granite have medium to hard water because they are naturally rich in magnesium and iron. Soil with a high level of magnesium and iron also contributes to harder water.
The best way to tell what your water hardness level is is to have it tested. There are home test kits available at hardware stores, but they’re not 100% accurate but will give you a good idea. Another option is to contact your local water authority for a full analysis.
They should be able to tell you the hardness level of water in your area and how it compares with other areas.
Hard Water vs. Soft Water
Hard water is defined as being contaminated with a large amount of calcium and magnesium minerals, whereas soft water has a very little amount of those minerals.
Soft water has a pH of 7, which means it is neutral. Hard water varies between 6.5 and 8.5.
Since the amount of minerals in hard water is larger, it leaves behind a bitter aftertaste and can cause scaling on dishes or glassware.
Soft water, on the other hand, is very advantageous because it does not leave behind any residue.
The recommended level for hardness in drinking water is less than six grains per gallon.
The Negative Effects of Hard Water
Aside from drying out the skin and leaving behind residue, hard water can cause several potential issues.
It can damage your pipes: The more water and minerals that pass through the pipes, the more the buildup – especially when there are “drying” periods in between that allow air to pass through and harden the mineral deposits.
This is like sipping a soda through a straw: the more soda that goes through the straw, with the addition of drying time in between, the stickier the inside that straw will be.
Extra Bills: You may be calling the plumber for repairs more often or having an increase in water bills; either way, spending money that you do not need to is never fun.
Cause Dry Skin and Hair: Excess of anything can be a bad thing, and excess minerals are no exception when it comes to drying out skin and hair when showering.
Faded Clothes: Your washing machine may have to work extra to clean clothing, which means clothes fade faster from needing to be cleaned longer and longer over the service life for your washing machine. You are causing your favorite attire to look worn and old when you had hardly worn it.
Spotty Dishware: The small nuance of having spotty dishes can make anyone feel like their eating or using dirty dishware, which can be quite repulsive for you and any guests you may have over.
Hard water is the cause of all these small issues that by themselves, may not be much but puts all together can create unneeded stress for anyone.
What Are the Effects of Hard Water on Health?
Cardiovascular disease, cancer, cerebrovascular mortality, malformations of the central nervous system, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney stones, and bone mineral density are the main health problems of hard water.
Hard water contains a significant amount of calcium and magnesium ions which can be responsible for cardiovascular diseases. Calcium or magnesium-containing compounds present in the water increase calcification inside the heart, aorta, and kidneys.
Cancer is also triggered by the intake of hard water. Hard water has high contents of magnesium sulfate which increases carcinogens absorption in the human body through food, making it easy for cancer cells to develop. Also, hard water could be a risk factor for bladder cancer.
Malformations of the central nervous system can happen due to the accumulation of dissolved minerals in the human body. Calcium and magnesium ions in the water contribute to having a negative effect on bone mass density, affecting neuromuscular transmission. Also, aluminum toxicity which is present in hard water could be responsible for neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Bone mineral density is reduced when calcium or magnesium-containing compounds are present in the blood, leading to osteoporosis. Calcium and magnesium in the water can be linked to bone mineral density reduction because they prevent calcium and vitamin D absorption which is important for bone health.
How to Soften Hard Water
The only long-term, minimal work solution to soften hard water at the source is to purchase a water softener system. There are ways you can manually reduce the minerals in the water to make it softer for immediate use.
Hard Water Solutions for Home
You can purchase a whole house water filter as an easy solution. There are multiple types to choose from in the market and will help make your life easier. From salt-based ion exchange to salt-free substitutes, you will have your pick at water softeners to help with hard water at home.
Hard Water Solutions for Shower
Installing an ion-exchange shower head filter, which neutralizes water and removes mineral deposits, is going to be a cheaper solution than getting an entire water softener system put in. There are many showerheads available with built-in water softeners as well and tend to install easily.
If you already have a water softener installed but the shower is still not as soft as you want then the shower head filter will be the second line of defense to ensure the water you use the most on your body is soft and as healthy as possible for your skin.
Hard Water Solutions for Skin
The best solution to get for your skin will be to take care of hard water where you use water on your skin the most. This means getting a water softening shower head, and a water softening faucet attachment for the sink that you use the most.
A way to help your skin without adding any systems will be to use moisturizing body washes to help reduce skin irritation. You can also use moisturizing hand soaps and keep lotion by faucets and in the bathroom to apply to the skin after a shower as well.
Hard Water Solutions for Appliances
There are a couple of options:
• Clean appliances regularly to help prevent buildup.
• Reduce the temperatures where possible (such as the drying temperature of the dishwasher)
• Use washing aids such as dishwasher rinses or fabric softeners to reduce buildup.
Hard Water Stains
Hard water stains are water spots that show on glassware, dishes, and flatware. A common mineral dissolved in water is calcium carbonate (CaCO) which can precipitate (come out of solution) as limescale when the hot water evaporates leaving the white residue behind.
The buildup on glasses appears as rings or smears on the surface of drinking glasses or coffee carafes. It also shows up as a white powdery-looking mess on flatware.
How To Remove Hard Water Stains
Hard water stains can be removed by soaking the dishware in a solution of vinegar and water. For best results, clean dishes with coke (not Coca-Cola), and rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of soda before putting them in the dishwasher.
Another method is to use a lime remover after each cleaning. For best results, clean the sink with Lime-away cleaner first. Rinse well and then apply the solution around the faucet. Let it work for five minutes before rinsing again.
For harder stains, use an electric drill fitted with 12 or 16 gauge sanding drums. This can remove a lot of calcium deposits. But be careful not to over-sand as this will wear through the metal and make it even more difficult to remove lime stains in the future.
For particularly stubborn areas, try using an old toothbrush with the bristles cut short (about 1/8”). The short bristles will allow you to get into the small grooves and crannies where lime likes to deposit.
For a more environmentally friendly way of removing hard water stains on metal, try using a paste made from baking soda and vinegar. Sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda in a bowl and add just enough vinegar to make a paste. Apply this mixture to the hard water-stained areas. While this method will not remove as much of the scale as some other methods, it is considered more environmentally friendly and can be just as effective.
Best Cleaning Solution for Hard Water Stains
In general, the best way to remove hard water stains is by using a vinegar rinse or pink solution. The most basic recipe for vinegar includes a 1:1 ratio of vinegar to warm water. Spray the solution onto the stain and let it sit long enough for the acid to break down the mineral deposits (about 10-15 minutes).
Then gently scrub and wipe away any remaining deposits and vinegar residue. Other solutions that follow this basic recipe to target specific areas as well, with some adjustments:
- ½ cup vinegar, ½ cup baking soda, and 1 cup of ammonia added to 1 gallon of warm water will give you a solution for a heavy-duty window cleaner
- 2:1 ratio of vinegar to baking soda can give you a toilet bowl cleaner for hard water stains
- A shower door can be cleaned by using a cleaner made from 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and 1 lemon
Frequently Asked Questions and Answered
How Can We Convert Hard Water into Soft Water Naturally?
To purify for drinking, you can boil the mineral-contained water and then allow it to cool. White deposits will settle to the bottom, which you can physically separate from the clear topwater by using a ladle to transfer into a separate container. (This may make the water taste “flat”. You can remedy this by pouring the water back and forth between two containers, re-oxygenating the water.)
You can add one tablespoon of white distilled vinegar for every 3 cups of water to convert hard water into soft water. This is a helpful and easy solution when it comes to doing laundry. You could also add baking soda as well or in addition to vinegar. Baking soda is a good solution for bathing.
How Do You Convert Hard Water to Soft Water for Washing Hair?
The easiest solution for converting hard water to soft water for washing hair is by replacing the showerhead with a water filter shower head or installing a water softener. An impractical solution would be boiling water or vinegar to convert the water into soft water, but this is more time-consuming than water softener maintenance.
If you cannot install a water filter shower head, you can use a moisturizing shampoo or create an apple cider vinegar hair rinse to break down the mineral buildup.
Can Hard Water Damage Hair?
Yes, hard water can be damaging on hair. If you have ever noticed a layer of film on your hands when you wash with soap, taking you longer to fully rinse your hands, this is from the mineral deposits.
This is what is happening on your hair as well, which can make it hard for the scalp to receive enough moisture. This causes a dry and itchy scalp and leaves hair more prone to breakage and split ends. It can even lead to some hair loss as well.
It can also cause your hair to frizz and become dull and can also cause long hair to tangle more.
Can You Drink Hard Water?
Yes, you can drink hard water and, in most cases, harmless. The minerals in the water can be beneficial to one’s health and can help protect from diseases.
Yet, too much consumption of this water can also be harmful, depending on the hardness of the water and the number of minerals in it, with the potential to damage organs and cause disease. It would take a significant amount of excess minerals to reach these serious situations, though.
Can Hard Water Affect Sanitizing Solution?
Hard Water does affect how well the sanitizing solution works. The harder the water, the fewer bacteria than bleach solutions will be able to effectively kill and remove from the surfaces. This is due to the minerals and higher pH level making oxidation occur for the cleaning solutions thereby making them unable to clean as well.
Does Pink Solution Work on Hard Water Stains?
Yes. Pink solution will work on hard water stains. It has the ability under the company’s claims to replace all household cleaners, including laundry detergent. This is because it is a natural enzyme cleaner when mixed with water, giving it the ability to clean everything.
What is the Best Solution for Hard Water?
There is no one size fits all solution for beating hard water so that you can have soft water with long-lasting appliances. You can make sure to use distilled vinegar more often to help battle some effects from it, but the best solution to never have hard water problems is to get a water softener.
This will add time and money to monthly costs, but it will be worth it if you are doing all the small changes right now and still losing the battle to hard water.
Making hard water soft is nothing new, and you can do a lot of small changes before making the big pocketbook decision for getting a great, reliable water softener. From using distilled vinegar more often to changing the shower head to be a water softening shower head, there are countless ideas to help but nothing will ever compare to a great water softener.