What is hard water?
Hard water is water that contains high levels of dissolved natural minerals (such as calcium and magnesium). Rain water is naturally ‘soft water’ and typically contains very low levels of minerals. When rain falls, it seeps into the ground and comes into contact with soil and rock. As the rain water passes through the soil and rock, it can absorb minerals (like calcium and magnesium) and become ‘hard water’. Water hardness levels can vary across the country, depending on the soil and rock types in certain regions.
What is affected by hard water?
Since hard water is rich in the dissolved minerals, the main issue that most people find is the inability to form a lather while using soap and the difficulty to wash off the soap easily. Along with it, the excess minerals in the water clogs your skin pores.
Now we all know what happens when your skin pores get clogged often – Skin problems that no one wants.
- One of the biggest side effects of hard water on skin is – it takes away all the oiliness of your skin, making it dry and flaky.
- As using hard water blocks the skin pores, you may find yourself struggling with acne issues, skin rashes, and even rosacea.
- With time, the further side effects of hard water on skin is – it may make your skin age faster with the appearance of wrinkles.
- Using hard water further may also develop eczema, especially if you are prone to the development of eczema.
As you can see, using hard water to wash anything leaves residue behind. This is bad for your hair as well. So, when you wash your hair with hard water, it leaves a residue that is a combination of the excess minerals in the water and the shampoo.
- The residue left behind affects your scalp negatively, making the roots weak, leading to hair fall.
- It also makes your scalp dry, itchy, and prone to dandruff.
- Hard water causes hair to become excessively dry.
- Your hair color gets washed off easily.
Have you ever felt that after moving to a different city or house, the quality of your hair has degraded? There was a time when everyone complimented your hair, but now it’s all dry and frizzy! There may be only one reason behind this – you have been using hard water to wash your hair.
Hard water can leave scaly deposits, commonly referred to as limescale, on plumbing fixtures and in pipes. Limescale builds up over time, reducing the diameter of your pipes by developing a layer around the inside of them.
By reducing the effects of hard water through the use of a water softener, you can minimise the build-up of limescale and mineral deposits, reducing the risks of blockages and corrosion, extending the life of your plumbing system. Limescale build-up on heating elements reduces their efficiency, thus wasting energy which in turn leads to higher energy bills.
What is a Water Softener and how does it work?
Water softening is the process through which the calcium, magnesium, and other metal cations in the water are removed. This is done by changing the calcium and magnesium ions’ charges. While this might seem complicated at a first glance, it’s really not.
So, the calcium and magnesium ions in the water carry positive charges. The water softener pushes the water through a tank filled with negatively charged beads. As the water passes through the tank, the positive calcium and magnesium ions will cling to the beads instead of floating through the water.
However, if the beads were to keep the magnesium and calcium for themselves, we could use every water softener a single time. So instead of keeping them for themselves, the beads trade them with similarly charged elements. And the chosen element is sodium. Sodium ions are positively charged. While they’re not as powerful as the calcium and magnesium ones, they can make up for it in sheer numbers. After the water passes through the beads and the minerals cling to their surface, the beads will be flushed with a strong brine solution. Every water softener has a separate brine tank that holds the brine solution.
Here’s a simplified version of how this works
- The hard water enters the mineral tank
- The magnesium and calcium ions cling to the beads and displace the sodium ions.
- The sodium ions go in the water instead of the calcium and magnesium
- The water softener starts its regenerating cycle
- The water flow is reversed to clean the resin tank
- The brine solution enters the mineral tank
- The sodium ions replace the magnesium and calcium ions on the beads
- The calcium and magnesium ions are flushed down the drain
- The resin tank is flushed with the brine solution
- The brine tank is refilled.
- The process is now ready to start again.