We use water daily and by now, most of us are aware that water can be hard or soft. How hard your water is also determines the overall quality of your water. And though you may not notice the difference right away or think that there isn’t a difference; it is noticeable if you make the switch. Here are just a few benefits of soft water both for you and for your home.
What is hard water?
Hard water is water that contains high levels of dissolved calcium, magnesium, and other mineral salts such as iron. The greater the amount of dissolved minerals in the water, the harder it is.
Total hardness is measured in grains per gallon (gpg) or parts per million (ppm). If water contains less than 3.5 gpg, it is considered soft water. If it contains more than 7 gpg, it is considered hard water. The American Society of Engineers’ water hardness classification table breaks it down this way.
* Soft: 0 to 3.5 gpg – 0 to 60 ppm
* Moderate: 3.6 to 7 gpg – 61 to 120 ppm
* Hard: 7.1 to 10.5 gpg – 121 to 180 ppm
* Very Hard: More than 10.5 gpg – more than 180 ppm
Making the Connection
Total hardness and water quality are connected. Hard water is safe for drinking, cooking, and other household uses, but it can cause problems.
One way in which total hardness and water quality are connected is the effect of such water on household plumbing. Total hardness means a build-up of scales inside pipes, especially those carrying hot water.
Total hardness and water quality are also connected in their effect on appliances that use water. Dishwashers and washing machines can decrease in cleaning and laundering ability. Water heaters can become less efficient. Refrigerators that dispense water can become clogged.
Aesthetically, total hardness and water quality are connected in those white, chalky deposits that accumulate on tubs, sinks, and cookware.
U.S. Water Quality
According to the 1997 National Water Quality Survey, 1 of 5 people surveyed in the U.S. is dissatisfied with the water quality in his or her home. This is related to the fact given by the U.S. Geological Survey: that 85 percent of the U.S. has hard water. Many people install water softeners in their homes to improve water quality.
Determining Water Quality
You can have your water quality tested if you are moving into a new area or a new home. If you have been living in the same home for a while, you will know if your water is hard by looking for these 7 signs:
1. You have difficulty working up lather from a bar of soap.
2. Your soaps and detergents don’t seem to clean well – you have dingy laundry in spite of your efforts to get it clean.
3. In the shower or bath, your soap leaves a film on your body and hair – you have dry skin and dull, limp hair.
4. You have to battle soap scum on bathtubs, shower tiles and doors, basins, and fixtures.
5. You see an increasing buildup of scale on your cookware such as tea kettle, coffee maker, and pasta pot. Your plumbing also contains scale.
6. Clogged pipes or appliances mean that water flow is reduced.
7. Your water heating costs are increasing due to scale buildup and mineral deposits, and you have to replace hot water heating elements more often.
Improving Water Quality
Treatment can improve water quality. You may use electromagnetic water conditioners, water filters, or water softeners.
Interested in getting soft water in your home? A water softener is the way to go and is based on simple chemistry to make it happen.
Electromagnetic water conditioners improve water quality by sending water through a magnetic field. As the water passes between the magnets, its calcium and magnesium ions lose their scale-causing properties. Studies show that this relatively new invention does not technically soften water, but water quality is improved in that it no longer causes buildup of scales. Clothing also lasts longer, which is a definite increase in water quality.
Water filters are a second option for improving water quality, especially drinking water. Water filters can provide healthy drinking water by removing chlorine and other contaminants contained in water. Water filters can soften water, but they will not prevent scale buildup in pipes and water heaters.
On the other end of the spectrum, total hardness and water quality are a benefit when that hardness level is below 3.5 gpg or 60 ppm. Soft water allows you to use less shampoo and soap, yet have shinier hair and softer skin. Soft water requires less soap or detergent in shower, laundry, kitchen, and household cleaning chores. It helps clothes look cleaner and last longer. It keeps water-using appliances and plumbing from wearing out as fast. Soft water keeps dishes and eating utensils spot-free, and extends the life of tea kettles and other cookware. Soft water reduces cleaning time by eliminating soap scum and buildup of scales.
There are so many reasons you should soften your water that you wouldn’t even realize! Think less soap required to clean your clothes, no more harsh water stains in your tubs, less buildup in your appliances – need we say more? Soft water will save you time, money, and have you feeling at your best.
Concerned about spotty knives, spoons, or forks? Check the quality of your water and see if that might be the culprit. Just by visiting Morton Salt and filling out a form, they will send you a free water test strip to determine if you have any hard water issues.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.