Do you find that your skin is itchy and dry? Are you frustrated with the performance of your appliances? You might be dealing with hard water? It’s the most common water problem in the United States, but many still find themselves asking, “What is hard water?”
What is Hard Water?
The water that you use in your home can pick up trace minerals in the ground as it’s waiting to be used. Most often, these minerals are magnesium and calcium, but it’s not uncommon to have issues with iron and manganese, as well. If you use private well water, it’s very likely that you have hard water. But, it’s certainly not unheard of for those using city water to experience the same issues.
Hard water is not dangerous in terms of consumption. In fact, magnesium and calcium are necessary for your body and the amounts in water can be beneficial for your health. The problem mainly concerns your home appliances and your personal taste preferences.
Here are just a few of the effects that hard water can have on your home:
- If you have iron in your water, you may notice rust-colored stains on the on the inside of your toilet bowl, your dishwasher, and your washing machine.
- You’re noticing a serious decrease in water pressure in your shower as mineral deposits clog up the shower head.
- You and your family have itchy, dry skin all year long. This is due to hard water’s inability to remove all the soap residue from your skin.
- Your appliances wear out faster. As mineral deposits build up, or scale, they decrease efficiency and make it harder for your appliance to do its job. This applies to your dishwasher, your washer, and even your hot water heater.
- Clothes might come out of the wash still looking grimy. Hard water prevents soaps and detergents from lathering and doing their job effectively, resulting in clothes that just won’t come clean.
How Do I Know if I Have Hard Water?
The only way to truly know if you have water is to use a hard water test kit. These kits tell you the level of mineral content your water has, typically measured in grains per gallon (GPG or G/G). The test kits look very similar to pH test kits, consisting of a strip that changes color based on the hardness of your water.
You can find these test strips online. Morton Salt will even send you a free test strip!
There are some pretty good indicators, though, if you’re suspicious that you’re using hard water. If your water has a peculiar smell or taste, leaves white spots on your dishes, or doesn’t lather with soap, it’s time to test.
What Can I Do?
The best way to deal with hard water is to utilize a salt-based water softener. Using a process called ion-exchange, your water will have its minerals replaced with sodium ions. The minerals are safely removed, and you can fresh, clean water in your home.