What Is Hard Water

What Is Hard Water

Water is called hard when it contains relatively high levels of calcium, magnesium, and other minerals. The higher the concentration of the latter, the greater the hardness. The term is not chosen by chance: hard water negatively affects washing processes and can even inhibit soap’s effectiveness. Here you will get a complete guide about hard water & also all of about hard water. The total content of calcium and magnesium salts constitutes the hardness of water; this parameter is important to evaluate the possible formation of encrustations, particularly in hot circuits. Due to the deposit of calcium and magnesium carbonates, which are poorly soluble.

In the home, limescale and hard water cause problems that affect boilers, washing machines, dishwashers, taps, bathroom fixtures, pipes, fabrics and linen, our hair, and our skin. The total hardness of water is the sum of the temporary hardness and the permanent hardness.

Discover what is hard water

When we talk about hard, our imagination runs to unedifying but authentic limestone images. That ruins the bathroom fixtures, produce gray laundry, and form those annoying deposits that irreparably damage our appliances. But what exactly do we mean by the common but not completely exhaustive term of hard water? Quite simply, the hardness determines the amount of calcium and magnesium ions contained in the drinking. That feeds our homes and businesses every day.

We must ask ourselves, why does the water become “heavy” with these substances? The answer is simple: as it flows through the filtering layers of the ground and underground aquifers. These mineral salts are normally soluble in water, but they tend to precipitate when heated, generating the notorious limestone.

The three types of water hardness

Hydrogen carbonates (or bicarbonates) are responsible for the temporary hardness of water: with the heat. They turn into limestone, a white encrustation deposited. For example, on the boiler’s heat exchanger and the electric coil of boilers and other appliances. Hardness, on the other hand, is called permanent when the salts do not transform at boiling. According to a ranking ranging from very freshwaters (7 ° f – 14 ° f) to very hard (32 ° F – 54 ° f). The mineral salts that make up the hardness can be present as sulfates, chlorides, nitrates, carbonates, or hydrogen carbonates. They are soluble under normal conditions, but, as already mentioned, during heating, they tend to precipitate, forming encrustations.

Temporary hardness

The temporary hardness is due to calcium bicarbonate Ca (HCO 3 ) 2 and magnesium bicarbonate Mg (HCO 3 ) 2, which can be eliminated by heating the water; with this operation, there is a loss of carbon dioxide CO 2, which gives rise to the formation of very little soluble carbonates which precipitate.

The stability of bicarbonate is only possible in the presence of an excess of free CO 2. If the equilibrium conditions change and there is a loss of carbon dioxide (for example, following a temperature rise), the bicarbonate becomes unstable. It separates, giving rise to insoluble carbonate precipitates causing all ‘origin fouling :

  • Ca (HCO 3 ) 2 ⇔ CaCO 3 ¯ + CO 2 + H 2 O

Permanent hardness

On the other hand, the permanent hardness is not eliminated by heating as it is due to the other calcium and magnesium salts. Generally, sulfates and chlorides (magnesium sulfate MgSO 4, calcium sulfate CaSO 4, calcium chloride CaCl 2, magnesium chloride MgCl 2 ) remain dissolved in solution this reason, do not cause problems of encrustation.

Damage of limestone water

The damage caused by limescale we have them under our eyes every day and have a considerable cost. The washing machine and the boiler have coils. The encrustations accumulate: this entails a high energy cost because the limestone acts as an insulator and takes longer to heat. Furthermore, we must not forget that rust deposits are formed from the limestone, caused by iron oxide, which corrode the systems.

In fact, it is known that germs and bacteria lurk and proliferate in the limestone structure. To this list of problems, we can add clogged showerheads, sinks, opaque glass and taps, caked boilers, and last but not least, the waste of detergents. In fact, during the washing process, the detergents’ molecules combine with the calcium ions forming insoluble compounds that significantly increase the consumption of detergent and, depositing on the fibers, tend to felt the fabrics.

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How to measure water hardness

There are various units of measurement for hardness. The most used worldwide and in particular in Italy is the so-called French degree (° f). A French degree of hardness corresponds to a content of calcium and magnesium salts molecularly equivalent to 1g of CaCO 3 per 100 liters of water. An English degree of hardness corresponds to calcium and magnesium salts’ content equivalent to 1g of CaCO 3in 1 gallon (4,546 liters) of water. A German degree of hardness corresponds to calcium and magnesium salts’ content equivalent to 1g of CaO in 100 liters of water. Below are the conversion factors between the various hardness units of measurement :

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1 ° f = 0.70 ° I = 0.56 ° DH = 4.008mgCa 2+ / l H2O = 10mgCaCO 3 / l H2O = 10ppmCaCO 3 / l H2O

By way of example, we remind you that rainwater is very soft, having hardness not exceeding 1 ° f, while some groundwater can abundantly exceed 50 ° f. This depends on the type of soil layers it crosses in its path: from the passage through granitic rocks (not very soluble), there will be fresh from clay with slightly or medium-hard, hard water dolomites, and tough from gypsum.

In Italy’s various regions, the water has quite different hardness values: it is impossible to make a precise classification because the range of values ​​can be extensive even within the individual regions, provinces, and municipalities. At this link, you can check the water analysis of most Italian municipalities.

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How water hardness affects washing

Water hardness is relevant when washing clothes and surfaces. The calcium and magnesium present in the water provide a decisive impact to obtain good results when washing any garment. The detergent action of any surfactant, present as the main ingredient in detergents on the market. It is strongly reduced by the calcium and magnesium ions, which decrease its solubility and effectiveness. Excellent results for any washing, be it a fabric or a surface, can be achieved with very low water hardness.

Many detergents have special ingredients in their formula (unfortunately, sometimes also very polluting) that can oppose excessive water hardness. (such as zeolite, sodium carbonate, and various soaps.) The greater the water’s hardness, the greater the quantity of these ingredients and therefore of the detergent that must be dosed to obtain acceptable washing results in terms of cleaning and hygiene. (The instructions on the label attached to the detergent containers provide the user with information on recommended dosages according to hardness)

Thanks to a water softener, so-called soft water is obtained, i.e., water with a low hardness that requires less detergent. And less detergent means less pollution for the environment.

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Wash with softened water

In addition to the various domestic benefits, softened water can also make us more beautiful, every day, through the small actions that concern our body’s care. Washing with softened water is a different, pleasant, and beneficial experience for the whole body, especially for hair that is softer, shinier, and easier to treat. Even the skin can appear more beautiful, regaining softness, smoother to the touch, and without redness. In addition to limestone, a home softener also reduces the concentration of heavy metals that may be present in the water, thus preventing the annoying skin irritations that occur in the most sensitive subjects.

About half of the detergents are literally wasted with what is hard water, as they are “sequestered” by the calcareous hardness to form insoluble and ineffective deposits for washing purposes. On the other hand, with softened water, you get a lot of foam with a little soap. During the shower, there is the sensation of a pleasant slippery effect because very little soap, shower gel, or shampoo is enough to wash: a particularly evident effect for those who install a softener and for the first time use softened water in their own home—high quality.

Water classification based on the hardness

Hardness is generally expressed in French degrees (ºf, not to be confused with ºF, which are degrees Fahrenheit), where one degree represents 10 mg of calcium carbonate per liter of water.

Generally, waters are classified according to their hardness as follows:

  • Up to 7ºf = Very soft waters
  • 7ºf to 14ºf = Freshwater
  • 14ºf to 22ºf = Medium hard waters
  • 22ºf to 32ºf = Fairly hard waters
  • 32ºf to 54ºf = Hard water
  • Over 54ºf = Tough waters

With the installation of a softener, it is possible to obtain many benefits, including:

  • Energy saving
  • Savings on the purchase of detergents
  • Longer life of the pipes
  • Long live home appliances.
  • Comfort
  • Welfare

What is hard water remedies?

Modern technology offers highly effective remedies that put an end to these difficulties.

In fact, innovative water softeners come to our aid, which, connected to the home’s centralized water system, definitively solve the problem. The process implemented by these plants consists of removing the calcium and magnesium ions and replacing them with equivalent sodium ions using ion exchange resins. The sizing of the softener is based on the degree of hardness of the water to be treated and the number of people (or consumption) of the family group.

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Simple to install and long-lasting, the water softener can be chosen volumetric or time-based, depending on consumption needs. In the case of the volumetric softener, the regeneration system depends on the quantity of water treated.

What is hard water: the myths to dispel

There is widespread misinformation regarding the meaning of water hardness, its components, and related effects. Let’s take a look at the main prejudices regarding hard water, relating them to current scientific knowledge.

Myth 1 – There are contaminants in water

As erroneous as it is stubborn, a preconception concerns the presence of possible harmful substances in hard water. It is characterized by its compounds, particularly calcium and magnesium. But these have nothing to do with contaminants such as disinfectants, microorganisms, and inorganic chemicals.

Myth 2 – Softeners purify water

It is important to know that, just as minerals are not contaminants, softeners do not purify. These devices are designed to eliminate or reduce the high concentration of calcium and magnesium salts in hard: their only purpose is to separate the minerals from the water: a softener cannot purify. Which is not structurally used for a possible purification from chemical substances, sediments or microorganisms.

Myth 3 – Hard water causes glasses to become cloudy

Hard water can actually have some effects on glasses, but it doesn’t cause them to become cloudy. The only flaw is the possible accumulation of calcareous deposits on the glass surface, responsible for unsightly streaks. However, preventing the formation of these annoying stains is not impossible: it is sufficient to rely on the Finish rinse aid, which prevents the aforementioned minerals from depositing on the glass, fighting against limescale and preserving the brilliance of all glasses.

Myth 4 – Hard water ruins kettles

Even if hard, it contains elements that develop calcium carbonate. The main constituent of the dreaded limestone, it is unnecessary to subject it to long boiling processes. Fill it halfway with water and add two tablespoons of white vinegar. Which works as a natural descaler. At this point, let the solution sit for at least four hours. After this time has elapsed, empty the kettle, and say goodbye to any trace of limescale! If the signs persist, it is advisable to rinse the kettle and repeat the procedure several times.

Differences between hard and soft water

We are fortunate to live inside homes where water is available to us at all times. But have you ever paused at least once to think about it? What are the characteristics of what comes out of your tap? There are no two identical glasses of globally, but what mainly differentiates the from one tap from that which flows from another is above all the hardness parameter. These differences can be evident from the effects that hardness determines on household appliances, including dishwashers.

To clarify the concept, we have collected a series of information to explain simply what the meanings of hard and soft water are, the consequences that these types of water can have on your dishwasher, and how you can prevent their negative effects.

The harsh reality

All that falls from the sky is originally “sweet”: in other words. The only ion (an atomic particle with an electric charge) in it is sodium. It becomes “hard.” This process occurs because during the journey. The water incorporates dissolved minerals such as magnesium and calcium. From a certain point of view, these minerals are certainly positive since they are fundamental for our health. That make the hard better to drink, making it more pleasant the taste!

Hard times

When the dishwasher passes, the minerals it contains – especially limescale – tend to accumulate on the heating elements. This phenomenon hinders the cleaning performance of the appliance. It worsens the dishes’ appearance since the minerals, once they dissolve in the water. Then re-deposit on plates and glasses, cause the formation of unsightly stains and halos. Opaque.


The finish has developed a series of products that can ensure that even if what you have in your home is water with large amounts of dissolved minerals, your plates, glasses, and cutlery will always come out of the dishwasher sparkling. This additive softens the water and eliminates impurities that could hinder the proper functioning of the appliance.

We recommend using Finish Rinse Aid to speed up drying times and ensure. That no residue remains on objects once the water has evaporated. And most important of all, use Finish Dishwasher Care once a month. When mineral deposits build-up on key dishwasher components, the product will wash them out. Before they have a chance to settle back on your dishes. Whatever type of water comes out of your tap, be it hard or soft. You can get spotless dishes every time you wash them by following these simple tips.

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