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    July 30, 2020 5 min read

    What Happens if Water is Too Hard?

    What Is Hard Water?

    All homes that have running water in them, automatically have access to hard water.

    Rural homes usually connect to a nearby well and city homes are typically connected to a public water supply.

    So, what is hard water exactly? In short, the USGS Water Science School defines water hardness by the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in water. The concentration of the dissolved minerals determines the level of ‘hardness’ of hard water. Some areas can have harder hard water than others as a result.

    Now, water gains these dissolved minerals whenever it flows through and around rocks made with deposits magnesium and calcium in them. These types of rocks are soft as well, which is why they dissolve so easily in water and from water erosion.

    The water that runs through your house and in public buildings has varying levels of hardness based on calcium carbonate concentration. According to guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Interior and the Water Quality Association, water with less than 60 mg/L of calcium carbonate is considered soft, 61-120 mg/L is moderately hard, 121-180 mg/L is hard, and above 180 mg/L is deemed very hard. The numbers may not mean much if you don’t know what the effects of hard water are. So we’re here to fill you in on the impact that hard water has on your health and your daily living situation, and how soft water may be the better way to go!

    Is it safe to drink hard water?

    Now, you may be wondering to yourself if hard water is safe for you. So far, all reports state that hard water is safe for drinking. However, some people don’t like the taste of the minerals in the water.

    The main benefit of drinking hard water is that this type of water still contains all of the natural minerals. These minerals include but are not limited to, calcium; magnesium, and iron. Research shows that the inclusion of these minerals within an individual’s water intake can be beneficial in fighting and preventing certain heart and cardiovascular diseases. Seeing as though these minerals are absent from soft water, this is definitely an advantage in drinking hard water.

    It is claimed that if your hard water is rich in these minerals then an individual can receive all of their daily dose of minerals from drinking the water.

    As well as the potential health benefits of drinking hard water, these minerals are also said to add to the taste of the water. Of course, this is subjective and there is no way of measuring personal preference. But many people opt to have a hard water supply separate from their water softener.

    In terms of drinking hard water, some studies suggest a slight correlation with drinking hard water and children obtaining eczema. Although there is no concrete evidence to comprehensively conclude that there is a correlation.

    Another reason that many people are put off by hard water is the smell that it produces. Due to the minerals, it contains, hard water can often give off scents ranging from being earthy to a strong sulfur smell. This is the most common reason for people disliking drinking hard water.

    What are some of the effects of hard water?

    • Feeling a film on your hands after washing them. This is caused by the soap reacting with calcium to form soap scum. You may need to rinse your hands longer if the water is hard.
    • Spots. These can appear on glasses and silverware coming out of the dishwasher. These are usually deposits of calcium carbonate.
    • Mineral stains. These show up on clothes when they come out of the washing machine. Clothes can wear out faster because of the harshness of hard water.
    • Less water pressure in your home. Mineral deposits can form in the pipes, essentially shrinking the interior diameter of the pipes and reducing water flow.

    When water boils down, the major difference between hard and soft water can best be seen while doing daily housework. Hard water is to blame for dingy looking clothes, dishes with spots and residue, and bathtubs with lots of film and soap scum. Soap is less effective due to its reaction to the magnesium and calcium that lather is not as rich and bubbly. Even hair washed in hard water may feel sticky and look dull. Hard water can take a toll on household appliances as well and use up more energy.

    The minerals in hard water can also change the pH balance of your skin, weakening it as a barrier against harmful bacteria and infections. People with eczema may be especially vulnerable.

    You turn on the faucet to wash your hands and fill up the tub to take a bath, but your water may be affecting more than just your hygiene. Water hardness, or the amount of dissolved calcium or magnesium in your water, could also be affecting your energy use. Hard water could even be responsible for making your appliances work harder.

    For many, the hard water versus soft water debate boils down to costs. Mineral-saturated water costs include energy waste, wear and tear, inefficient operation, early failure of appliances and reduced lifespan of your plumbing. Increased use of chemicals needed to overcome the effects of hard water can also negatively impact the environment.

    All in all, hard water can be a drain on your budget!

    How do you soften hard water?

    A water softener may be the most excellent solution if you indeed have hard water and all the resulting problems. Typical water softener systems work by flushing hard water through resin beads containing positively charged sodium and potassium ions. The sodium and potassium are released into the water as the resin beads attract the calcium and magnesium ions, which are also positively charged. The result of this exchange is softened water containing small amounts of sodium and potassium.

    \What are the advantages of using a water softener?

    • Cleaner dishes with no cloudy film.
    • Softer clothes with less fading and wear.
    • Use less soap and detergent.
    • Tubs, sinks and toilets are shiny and clean.
    • Softer skin with fewer skin problems.
    • Use less hot water to rinse, saving energy.
    • Clean, strong, shiny hair.
    • Longer life for major appliances like water heaters, washing machines and dishwashers, as well as small appliances like irons and coffee makers.
    • Lower maintenance costs.
    • Lower energy bills



    Now that you know the pros and the cons, you can decide what kind of water you want more of in your life. Aquatell can help you find the appropriate balance by testing your water and providing a fitting solution. A whole-home water softening system can help to correct the negative effects of hard water.