Water is one of the basic utilities that we need to survive and live comfortably. We need water for drinking, cooking, washing, bathing and even for industrial purposes. Our sources of water are both natural and man-made. Natural sources include rainfall, lakes, rivers and oceans while manmade sources are dams, wells and canals. A common classification of water is describing it as either soft or hard water.
The difference between hard water and soft water is that hard water contains a higher concentration of minerals collected mostly from the ground and rocks. When the rain water runs through soft rocks such as limestone, it absorbs lime from them. Other minerals that make the water ‘hard’ are magnesium and calcium. Water from the rain is the soft water type but when we channel it through the ground and into our water ways such as pipes, it goes along picking minerals.
One major problem with hard water is best seen in washing. This is because soap does not lather up well therefore making washing hard. This makes one end up using more soap and synthetic detergents. Further, washing in hard water leaves behind some scum on the surface of clothes making the clothes look unclean. In addition, bathing using hard water is undesired because it leaves ‘cud’ on our skin that does not rinse off. This residue clogs the body pores. With clogged pores one is susceptible to skin conditions such as rashes and even acne.
To deal with the problem of hard water, in washing, cleaning and bathing, one should ensure they use softened water. A simple way of softening your water is by purchasing what is called a water softener. This softener simply does that, to exchange the magnesium and calcium ions in the water with sodium ions or potassium ions, depending on whether the softener uses sodium or potassium. I myself use a Fleck water softener system at my new apartment, and I’m pretty happy with it so far.
Further, you may treat the water with vinegar or lemon juice by simply diluting the water with the vinegar or the lemon juice before use in cleaning and washing. If the clothes and kitchen ware is already stained by the hard water, soaking a piece of cloth in vinegar and rubbing the kitchen ware with it has been shown to remove such stains by dissolving the mineral deposits.
Another way of softening hard water is by boiling. The minerals in water solidify when heated in temperatures above 50 degrees. Wait for the water to cool down. When you notice some white particles settled at the bottom, siphon the water leaving the particles behind.
Another problem with hard water is that it damages kitchen appliances such as coffee machines, dish washers and boilers. This happens because hard water brings about lime scale development. When hard water is heated in temperatures above 55 degrees, the minerals solidify as the water evaporates thus forming lime scale. This lime scale clogs taps and other home appliances such as dishwasher, washing machine and coffee machine therefore damaging them. Further, lime scale coats the heating elements of such appliances making them less energy efficient.
To deal with this problem, one should ensure that these appliances such as the coffee machine have an inbuilt water filtration system. The softeners in a coffee machine for instance block water contaminants and therefore prevent minerals from clogging the machine.
However, hard water is not essentially bad. The mineral components in it have quite a number of health benefits. Magnesium for instance is an essential mineral that plays a part in reducing blood pressure by modulating vascular tone. Further, magnesium ions are heart friendly as they aid in keeping the heart rhythm steady. Calcium ions too have health benefits as they help in development of strong teeth and bones in children.