What is hard water and soft water
Hard water or water hardness is caused when there are dissolved salts of Calcium and Magnesium in the water. Why water is called hard Water is because of the fact that it is difficult or 'Hard' to wash clothes, because soap will not lather in hard water and the water leaves stains behind when it dries. Having a bath in hard water is also quite difficult because soap will not lather and your hair will be stiff and you do not feel clean after a bath in hard water. Soft water is water in which there is no problem of soap not lathering and the water does not leave any stains when it dries. You feel nice after having a bath in soft water with your hair feeling soft and you feel clean after the bath in soft water.
What makes water hard is the dissolved salts of Calcium and Magnesium in water. Soap reacts with the hardness salts Calcium and Magnesium in hard water to form a sticky scum. When bathing in hard water, it feels sticky because the scum is deposited on the body and hair.
Another problem with hard water is that the hardness salts (Calcium and Magnesium) gets deposited as a scale inside water pipes and thus reducing its diameter. Eventually it can severely restrict the flow in water pipelines and may even block it. Water heaters gets scaled with hard water. Sometimes the water heater can get completely blocked with scales and this is dangerous. Always make sure that the flow through a water heater is not restricted.
How to tell if water is hard or soft
The best way to check for hard water is by having your water tested in a laboratory. A simple home hard water test can be done by taking half a bottle of your water and adding a small slice of soap and shaking it. If the water is hard, it will be difficult for the soap to foam or form bubbles and you will get to see the sticky scum on the sides of the bottle. Make sure you do not use modern day dish washing liquid soap or Shampoos which are made of detergents to bubble in hard water, but use real soap made of oil and caustic soda like the old bar soaps used for laundry (older people will remember 501 bar soap) or some of the cheaper bathing soap blocks. This is the simplest way to check for hard water at home.
The other easy method to tell if the water is hard or soft, is to check the coils of electric heating elements in an electric kettle being used in the house. If there is a white crust built up on the heating coil surface, then it is a sure sign of hard water. Water is either hard or soft, there is no middle way. So if water is not hard, then it is soft water.
Can you drink hard water?
The risks of drinking Hard Water is minimal, since drinking hard water is not harmful to health. WHO or the World Health Organization says that "There does not appear to be any convincing evidence that Water Hardness causes adverse health effects in humans". But as mentioned before hard water causes Scaling and sometimes makes Coffee and Tea change colour and taste. Hard water is alkaline water and it is believed that drinking alkaline water is good for health.
How to measure Hard Water, Units of water hardness
There are many types Water Hardness Measurement Units and how water hardness is measured varies from country to country. Water Hardness Measurement units are usually given in ppm or parts per million of Calcium Carbonate equivalent. The most common water hardness measurement units in India is in parts per million (ppm) of Calcium Carbonate equivalent or milligrams CaCo3 per liter. In the USA the water hardness measurement units are in Grains per Gallon (gpg). 1 gpg = 17.1 ppm. Different parts of the world have different water hardness measurement units or Water Hardness Units as you can see from the following table.
From the above table of Hard Water units, water containing about 75 mg/L (milligrams/litre) or less of Calcium Carbonate equivalent (the most common unit of measurement of hardness in India) is considered soft water. At 250 mg/L it is hard water and 350mg/L is considered very hard water.
Best solutions for hard water
Some of the best solutions for hard water problems are as follows:
Tips for washing hair in hard water
Hard water and hair do no go well together, hard water can cause hair fall and hard water can cause skin problems like dry skin and itchy skin. Washing hair in hard water and having a bath in hard water is a problem. Some of the methods of how to make hard water soft for washing hair and to have a bath are as follows:
A shower filter for hard water is a good solution. But after using this hard water shower head it will be good idea to use RO purified water for the final rinse of your hair and also whole body after a bath. RO water is very soft water and very kind to skin and hair.
Vinegar helps fight hard water hair problems
Vinegar has been used for thousands of years as a hair softening and brightening agent. Just google "vinegar and hair" and you will be surprised at the results. Everyone recommends Apple Cider Vinegar for hair, but any natural vinegar will do the trick. To quote "Apple cider vinegar removes clumpy residue and gunk in hair from product buildup. It also works as a natural detangler. When used regularly in your natural hair care routine, apple cider vinegar can revitalize your hair, leaving it soft and smooth. The vinegar also works by closing the cuticle of the hair, which makes light reflect off of it. In other words, it makes your hair super shiny!" Vinegar is very useful as a rinse for the hair for several reasons. Acetic acid is a mild chelating agent, so it can be useful in removing mineral deposits on the hair that accumulate over time due to impurities in the air and hard water.
Best cleaner for hard water stains
Hard water is not good for any cleaning work. Clothes washed in hard water look crumbled and feels stiff and scratchy. Hard water leaves stains on glass and dishes and looks dull when dried due to a film deposit of the hardness salts. The best cleaners for hard water are mild acidic cleaners which react with the hardness salts to give soluble salts of Calcium and Magnesium. Acetic Acid, which is vinegar is one of the best cleaner for hard water stains.
Hard water water purifier
The best water purifier for hard water is a water softener to make Hard Water Soft. A water softener has been the traditional method of softening hard water. This is a process of ion exchange using special resins and replacing the Calcium and Magnesium ions with Sodium ions. Sodium Chloride or common salt is used in water softening to regenerate the ion exchange resin.
The latest advances in water treatment uses membrane process like Nanofiltration and Reverse Osmosis to soften water. Nanofiltration and Reverse Osmosis or RO removes all the Calcium and Magnesium from the water and there is no need of adding any Sodium to the water. Membrane filtration of hard water is best water filter for hard water because there are no regeneration steps. To get the full benefits of Soft water, the water in the whole house must be softened.
Magnetic water softeners claim to soften water by not allowing the hardness salts to deposit on heated surfaces. They do not remove the actual hardness salts from the water but only give the hardness particles electrical charge by which they do not scale heating coils and the like. Magnetic shower filters are ineffective for having a bath because the hardness salts are still there in the water.
Membrane vs Ion Exchange water softening
RO or Reverse Osmosis is best hard water filter because it softens water by removing the hardness salts from hardwater without the use of any generating sodium chloride. Ion Exchange process requires dedicated equipment known as Water Softness which use ion exchange resins to soften wter. Ion exchange resin beds exchange the Calcium and Magnesium ions in hard water with Sodium ions obtained from common table salt or Sodium Chloride.
Water softened by Ion Exchange Water Softener contains Sodium salts instead of the Calcium and Magnesium. This water may not be advisable for drinking by people on a sodium restricted diet like those with high blood pressure. For washing clothes, treating the hard water with Sodium Carbonate or Washing soda, reduces many of its problems. RO process is the best water purifier for hard water since it physically removes the Calcium and Magnesium salts from the water. A new membrane technology called Nanofiltration is becoming used more and more in the softening of water. We have a dedicated page on Membrane water purification
Where is Hard Water found
Hard water is found in areas where there are chalk and limestone in the landscape or geology. As water passes through these chalk and limestone it dissolves Calcium Carbonates and Bicarbonates and makes the water hard.
Problems of hard water
- Hard water salts will scale up inside pipe lines and in time reduce the flow of water
- When you clean the floor it leaves a film of hardness salts which makes ceramic tiles dull
- In the same way it leaves a film on skin after a bath and makes your skin dry.
- Hair loss or hair fall with hard water is a well-known problem.
- Dry skin and pimples due to hard water
- Scale deposits inside pipes, water heaters, electric kettles, etc. reducing their efficiency.
- Electricity bill will be more when using electric water heaters due to scaling of the heating elements.
- Glass and dishes washed in hard water will have a dull look when dried.
- Clothes washed in hard water will be crumbly and stiff.
- Coffee and tea made with hard water will not taste as good.
How to buy Water Purifiers in India
The best way to buy Water Purifiers in India is to first look at all models of Water Purifiers available online at the leading online Retailers in India. For example on the online webpage of All Water Purifiers available in India on Amazon.in, you will find the full range of Indian Water Purifiers complete with their best discounted price and full specifications. This is great information, and you can decide on which model of water purifier to buy. With the model of water purifier you want to buy finalised, you can go to local shops to try and find the model of water purifier you have chosen and see if you can get at similar price of that at Amazon.in. In most cases the price from Amazon will be cheaper, because they buy in bulk from the manufacturers direct and they sell huge volumes because they are the world's largest and most trusted online retailer. If you buy from Amazon, they will arrange to have the water purifier installed in your house, usually free of charge.
Warranty and other facilities offered through Amazon are usually better than what you can get from local agents of water purifiers.
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