Archive for the ‘Hard Water’ Category
Hard water is water with a high content of minerals, mainly calcium and magnesium. While these are more prevalent, it may also contain iron, aluminum and manganese at higher altitudes in some geographical locations. The easiest method of determining the hardness of water is by how well your soap lathers. Hard water prevents your soap from lathering and leaves a white scum on surfaces and eventually will leave stains where the water flows or drips. It also causes a build up of these minerals on appliances and pipes and can eventually cause serious clogs, ruin water heaters and toilets and leave undesirable scales inside kettles and teapots.
If you are dealing with hard water issues in your home, and experience these stains and build ups, you will need to find ways to eliminate them before the damage is done. Using regular household cleaners and soaps as a method for hard water stain removal will probably not remove the stains and build up.
White vinegar is the mostly commonly and most effective substance used other than chemical products made specifically for lime, calcium and rust removal. Here are some tips to follow for hard water stain removal from different appliances and areas.
If you can remove your showerhead, do so. Bring a pot of equal parts of water and white vinegar to a boil, enough to submerge the showerhead, and boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Leave it to soak for several hours or overnight. If you cannot remove the head, fill a bag with equal parts of water and vinegar and secure the bag at the neck of the showerhead with the head fully submerged and leave overnight. You can use the same method for any faucet heads that cannot be removed.
For items such as sinks tubs and toilets, fill them almost to full and add vinegar. For toilets and sinks add 1 cup of vinegar and for tubs add 1 litre of vinegar. Leave overnight and drain.
For dishes like pots, glassware etc., fill with equal parts of water and vinegar. Glassware normally takes less time than pots, but leave longer if necessary, and for pots it may help to heat up the solution.
For coffeemakers, use pure vinegar. Fill the reservoir and let it run through a cycle. Repeat if necessary. Then run a couple of clear water cycles through to clean out any remaining residue of vinegar.
If some hard water stains are tougher to get rid of than others you can make a paste out of the vinegar and baking soda and use it to scrub the stains clean. However be aware that some stains are just not going to be removed and may be permanent.
There are a number of commercial products you can purchase that are made specifically to remove these stains and deposits and may be a last resort, however, many people are resorting to more environmentally friendly methods of solving these types of issues and all factors should be seriously taken into consideration when choosing. You can help avoid these stains by using one of the many water softener systems that are available on the market. If you find these too expensive for your needs you might want to consider a Calgon water softener product which is simply something you add with your clothes or dishes when you wash them facilitate the task because hard water makes cleaning both of these much harder than usual, hard water stains are still a possibility however.
Water softening is the act of reducing the level of magnesium and calcium ion concentration from hard water. Although the World Health Organization has found no evidence of hard water being harmful to humans, many people may still find it undesirable, mainly because soaps and detergents don’t lather well with hard water making it difficult for cleaning purposes. The best and the most used method of reducing hardness from water is to use a ion-exchange resin device, more commonly known as a water softener.
Water softener systems work by replacing the magnesium and calcium ions causing the hardness with sodium ions. The way it works is that the water passes through a negativity charges bed of resins containing sodium ions, though it can also use potassium or hydrogen ions. As the negativity charged particles absorbs and binds the magnesium and calcium ions it releases the sodium ions, thus replacing the hardness minerals with sodium. How much sodium is required for this process depends on the amount of hardness minerals in the water, the harder the water the more sodium ions is released in to the water to reduce the hardness. Such resins are also available to reduce the levels of carbonate, bi-carbonate and sulfate ions from the water, but they release hydroxyl ions in the water instead.
As these resins become filled with undesired ions from the water they slowly lose their effectiveness and needs to be recharged. This is usually done by passing a highly concentrated brain of usually sodium chloride (salt for water softener), or potassium chloride, or hydrochloric acid solution through them. This process replaces the hardness minerals from the resins with sodium or potassium.
It should be noted that too much sodium in the body can potentially cause side effects, so if you have hard water problems, it would be wise to have two taps in the house, with only one of them running through the water softener that you can use for cleaning purpose, while the other one with hard water that you can use for drinking, since the hard water has not be proven to have any adverse effect on the body for drinking. It’s once again mainly a problem for plumbing and house cleaning/washing. Other solutions include using a saltless water softener which can either use a completely different water softening system that does not include salt or it might simply be something like a kinetico water softener that instead of using salt you use potassium chloride to recharge the water softener resin.
Hard water refers to water that is extremely high in mineral content. These minerals mainly consists of calcium and magnesium, though other minerals such as bicarbonate and sulfates are also common. If you believe that your water may have hardness in it, the most effective way to make sure weather or not your water is hard, is to do the lather/frost test. Substance like soaps and toothpastes lathers easily on soft water, but not in hard water, so if you try to lather some soap or tooth paste under the water you would be able to tell weather or not it’s hard.
The World Health Organization has concluded that “there does not appear to be any convincing evidence that water hardness causes adverse health effects in humans.” Though there have been a few studies that show a weak connection between water hardness and cardiovascular disease, but according to the World Health Organization none of those evidences are conclusive enough to deem water hardness a serious threat. How ever, since soaps does not lather on it, it can not be used for any washing or cleaning purposes and a lot of people would probably like to play it safe and not take any risks with their health. Another very common reason is that hard water can damage your plumbing quite quickly unlike normal water. For these reasons a lot of people would probably like to eliminate the hardness from their water.
The most effective way to eliminate the hardness from the water is to use one of the many available water softener systems. A water softener works on the principle of cation or ion exchange, where the calcium and magnesium ions from the hard water are exchanged for sodium and potassium ions, thus effectively reducing the hardness minerals to a tolerable level. This system uses water softener resin beads made out of ion exchange resins that are recharged with sodium chloride (softener salt). The water passes through and around the beads with the hardness minerals being absorbed and displacing the sodium ions. When the beads no longer have any sodium left, it can no longer soften water and needs to be recharged. This is done by flushing, often back-flushing the system with salt water. Potassium Chloride can also be used for the recharging; it will replace the hardness ions with potassium, resulting in a salt free water softener system. You can find many water softener brands so it’s important to consult some water softener reviews and consider whether you anticipate to use salt or potassium. You can also find other hard water solutions that use other methods such as a magnetic water softener which uses magnets to separate the hard water minerals to create soft water. They are also sometimes named electronic water softener.
Though the World Health Organization deems hard water to be safe, it may still be desirable for people to reduce the hardness from their water especially if you want to preserve your plumbing, and the above method is the best way to do that.