Hard water is water that contains dissolved solids such as calcium and magnesium. The reason that hard water can become an issue is that it can cause scale deposits, or mineral deposits, in pipes, water heaters, on bathroom fixtures, and even on your pots and pans. Fun fact: the term “hard water” actually originally referred to the fact that it was hard to wash in. Soap doesn’t lather well in it.
Some other things you might notice if your home has hard water are:
- Itchy / Dry Skin
- Dingy laundry
- Dry / unmanageable hair
- A bad taste and / or smell
- Cloudiness in your water
No one wants to deal with all of that, so what can you do?
Well, if you’re concerned about your home water quality, you have some options; water treatment, for one. You can actually purchase a water softener. In addition to the cost of purchasing the water softener though, there are a couple of things to consider. According to Consumer Reports, for every 1,000 gallons of water processed, you’ll consume 15-120 additional gallons of water. If nothing else, you’ll see that on your water bill. You’ll also see a bump on your electric bill, due to the cost of running the softening unit.
If all that seems like a little too much, you can try treating the symptoms rather than the problem. For instance, white vinegar can help to remove build-up on surfaces and dishes. It can also be used to descale your coffee maker or dishwasher. You can buy soaps and shampoos that are formulated for use with hard water. An occasional rinse with an apple cider vinegar solution can help to reduce the build-up of products in your hair that may still occur. Check your laundry detergent for special instructions for use with hard water. And, finally, check your water heater’s owner’s manual for instructions on flushing it.
Hard water isn’t all bad though! There is some evidence that drinking hard water can actually reduce your risk for osteoporosis because of the calcium in the water. There was also a 2004 study in Finland that suggests that the minerals in hard water may reduce your risk of heart disease.
Even if those things are true though, it is probably ultimately better to take steps to mitigate the effects that hard water has on your home. You can descale your coffee maker all day long, but there isn’t much you can do about the deposits that build up in your pipes. That is a much costlier fix further down the line.