Hard water is water that contains hardness minerals. The elements that possess this hardness property include iron, copper, and manganese, all normally present in small quantities. Calcium and magnesium are usually present in significant amounts.
Rainwater is naturally soft because these minerals aren’t present. However, as rainwater filters down through the earth and becomes part of the groundwater supply, it picks up minerals, turning them into hard water.
Why Hard Water is Bad
Water hardness can be the source of many problems. Especially troublesome is the way hardness minerals react with your soaps and laundry detergents.
For the homemaker, water hardness makes home cleaning more difficult. When using hard water for laundry, soap curd and detergent deposits remain on fabrics. This will dull the fabric’s color and make your once-white fabrics have a grey or yellow hue. Also, hard water soap curd will cling to fabric fibers, causing the threads in clothing to become brittle, thereby shortening the material’s life.
Because soaps and detergents combine with the hard minerals and form soap curds, you end up using more soap and detergent. Hard water also leaves behind soap scum rings and rusty stains. This makes cleaning more difficult and time-consuming.
Scale formation is another serious problem. The scale is formed when hard water is heated. Scale buildup gradually coats the interior of pipes, water heaters, boilers, and appliances, reducing water flow and efficiency.
How To Combat Hard Water
There are several ways to reduce water hardness: deionization, distillation, and reverse osmosis.
All recognized household water softening equipment on the market makes use of the ion exchange principle. The equipment contains a bed of permanent bead-like or granular softening material through which the water flows. The ion exchange material (usually resin beads or granules) is made of permanent insoluble anions, kept electrically neutral by replaceable sodium cations. As the water travels through the ion exchange material, the hardness minerals are removed, leaving the water soft and satisfactory for household use. The granules or particles of ion-exchange material in a softener are referred to as the bed.
How an Ion Exchanger Works
When hard water contaminated with calcium and magnesium ions enters the exchange column or bed and flows through it, the magnesium and calcium cations in the water are drawn to the ion exchanger’s anions. This occurs because the ion exchanger has a greater affinity for the calcium and magnesium ions than for the sodium ions. As the calcium and magnesium ions are absorbed, a chemically equivalent number of sodium ions is released into the water. The harmless sodium ions replace the hardness mineral-based ions.
Ion exchange occurs literally billions of times between the material in the exchange column and the minerals in the water as softening proceeds. Water softening is one option for the homeowner to treat water problems. Calcium and magnesium decrease the effectiveness of water appliances by causing a film-like scale buildup.
Water softening is an effective method to reduce calcium and magnesium in the water. When selecting a water softener, it should be based on water analysis and assessing the individual homeowner’s needs. This is mainly determined by the levels of hardness in your water and the average water consumption in your household.
When it comes time to install a filter in your home, don’t hesitate to call Torres Water Company at 504-838-8345. We stock a wide variety of home water filtration systems for every budget, household, and water quality issue.