Solving Hard Water Problems
Hard water comes from aquifers and other underground sources that collect dissolved minerals from rock—particularly calcium, magnesium carbonate, and manganese. These minerals give water undesirable characteristics that collectively are dubbed “hardness.” The severity of hardness is measured by grains (of mineral) per gallon (GPG) or, in some cases, by parts per million of mineral (PPM). One GPG equals 17.1 PPM.
What Is Hard Water?
Technically, any water that contains more than 1 GPG of dissolved hardness minerals is considered hard, but, realistically, water with up to 3.5 GPG is relatively soft. Water with more than 10.5 GPG is very hard. Between these extremes is typical, moderately hard water. Up to 200 PPM is good to use as per WHO.
Hard Water Problems
Hard water is less an issue of health than of potential expense. Many of the problems created by hard water stay hidden until some type of malfunction occurs in your home’s plumbing system or in a water-using appliance. When heated, dissolved hard-water minerals recrystallize and form scale that eventually clogs plumbing, reducing water flow. Scale and lime deposits also take their toll on water-heating appliances such as dishwashers and coffee makers, increasing the need for repairs.
Worse yet, scale cakes onto interior surfaces of water heaters, making them more likely to fail. According to a study commissioned by the Water Quality Research Council at New Mexico State University, water heaters operate 22 percent to 30 percent less efficiently when plagued with hard-water scale.
Hard-water problems reveal themselves as a nuisance when you bathe and cook, do laundry, and clean house. Calcium and magnesium react with many soaps, shampoos, cleansers, and detergents, diminishing their lathering and cleaning capability so you have to use more and rinse longer. They also form a scum on tile and what appears as difficult-to-clean bathtub ring. In the kitchen, this “soap curd” translates into spotted dishes and scale on cookware. Additionally, certain hard-water minerals, such as iron and manganese, can give water an undesirable appearance, odor, or taste.
Hard water does enter the health arena in one area: People who have hard water are more prone to rashes and skin problems because it changes the skin’s pH so that soap remains on the skin, clogging pores.
Water Softener Types
By far the most popular and commonly used type of whole-house water softener is an ion-exchange or “cation exchange” unit, but a couple of other technologies are also available. The following will explain the differences.
Salt-Based Ion Exchange Softener
This type of water softener cycles household water through two tanks: one with special resin beads and the other filled with brine. It works on the principle of ion exchange, softening hard water by substituting sodium (salt) for hard minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. For a complete explanation of how a conventional water softener works, please see How a Water Softener Works.
Salt-Free Water Softener
A salt-free water softener regenerates with a potassium-chloride salt substitute rather than sodium. This type of unit may be a better option for people who are concerned about salt intake. This type of water softener is actually a descaler—it doesn’t reduce the hard water minerals but rather prevents minerals from being deposited as scale to the surfaces of water-using appliances and pipes.
The general consensus is that this type of water treatment is better than no water softener at all, but not as effective as conventional water softening.
Water Softener Size
When buying or leasing a new water softener, selecting one that is the right size is important. You’ll want to get one that can handle the demands of your household but is not unnecessarily large (and expensive). Physical size isn’t the issue—the unit’s ability to remove “hardness” minerals from water without frequent regeneration is.
Water softeners are sold in several sizes, each rated by the number of grains of hardness they can remove from water between regenerations. The idea is to get a unit that will go at least three days between recharges. Ideally, the water softener can also handle periods of larger-than-normal water usage. Please call us for correct requirement and solutions.
Magnetic Water Softener or Descaler or conditioner.
3G Water conditioner
This electronic descaler is reputed to effectively and inexpensively improve water quality. You be the judge! Buy on paanimart or cleanwaterkart
In the Salt-Free Water Softeners article, you’ll also find a discussion of a more controversial option—the electronic or magnetic water softener or descaler. According to manufacturers, this plug-in device, which clips onto the incoming pipe, sets up a magnetic field that changes the electromagnetic properties of the calcium-carbonate minerals so they are repelled by pipes and each other. Please see the article for more about this.