Living With Hard Water
We've all experienced the annoying results of hard water: White-encrusted faucets, spotted glasses, dull, filmy hair. Let's take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of hard water and how to live with it.
According to a US geological survey, hard water is found in more than 85 percent of the country. With these kinds of numbers, we've probably all had to deal with it at one time or another. So what makes it "hard?" Is it harmful to our homes or to us? What can we do about it?
Hard water: What is it?
When water falls as rain, it's "soft" and free of minerals. It picks up minerals as it passes through rock, sand and soil. Hard water is high in mineral salts, especially calcium and magnesium ions. Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon, with a degree of hardness ranging from 1 to over 10. Hard water, generally, is not harmful to our health.
So, what's the problem?
Even though other minerals exist in hard water, it's the calcium and magnesium that create problems. When heated, these minerals precipitate out of water and encrust themselves onto items as "scale" or mineral deposits, affecting the performance of household appliances. These scale mineral deposits are unsightly in bathrooms and kitchens, and they're challenging to remove. Soaps and detergents lather poorly in hard water, so we tend to use more, resulting in a soapy film or scum residue.
Problems created by hard water
Is installing a water softener the solution?
To soften or not to soften? A water softener will take care of the hard water problem, but there are other things to consider before converting over to a soft water system:
Other solutions to help deal with hard water
These recommendations can lessen hard water problems and, in some cases, save you some money, too:
Are there advantages to hard water?
Drinking hard water can reduce your risk of osteoporosis because of the calcium carbonate in the water. For this to be true, however, a good supply of vitamin D is necessary in the diet since it helps your body absorb calcium. A 2004 Finnish study suggests the minerals in hard water can help prevent heart disease, as well.
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