What is "hard water"?
Pure water contains nothing but H2O. When it
comes out of the ground, however, water is rich in a multitude
of minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, and/or iron salts. When minerals
build up in your water supply, the water
is called "hard water."
Indications of hard water include
-difficulty wipping clean ceramic, plastic, glass and metal surfaces
-staining (scaly crusting) in toilets and under faucets
-soap lathers less than with cleaner water (detergents, unlike soaps,
are not prepared from fats and oils, and are not inactivated by hard
Hard water can cause scales (calcium carbonite
particles) to build up in pipes, appliances and fixtures (such as water
There are three basic methods used to control the problem of hard water
and scale formation. One method is to remove the minerals through ion
exchange, using salt. (Ion exchange is the process in which dissolved
calcium and magnesium salts are replaced by sodium salts.) A second
method involves adding chemicals, such as phosphates, to the water.
Both of these methods change the makeup of the water and require the
homeowner to continuously replenish the salts or chemicals - as well
as performing periodic maintenance on the equipment. A third method
involves using magnets and electrostatic devices to cause electrical
changes in the water that affects the scaling characteristics of the
minerals. Electric fields can be continuously applied to the water,
while magnetic field treatments rely on circulation of the water.
Hardness is commonly measured in grains per gallon (gpg). You may see
water softeners rated as 32,000 grains. The more
grains of hardness your water has, the more frequently the water softener
needs to regenerate.