The Affect Hard Water is Having on People’s Lives
Hard water is often considered to be a minor nuisance, but what many people may not realize is that it causes problems more severe than just hard water spots on dishes. According to Whirlpool, hard water is water high in mineral content and naturally happens when minerals such as calcium and magnesium accumulate during the water cycling process.1 It is estimated that eighty-five percent of homes in the United States have hard water, meaning hundreds of thousands of people are affected by its drawbacks.1 Problems caused by hard water include stains on appliances, a build-up of hardened minerals in pipes, fabrics not becoming truly clean during the laundry cycle, dry hair, and skin problems.
Stains and build-up commonly accompany hard water. Stains typically show up in toilets, sinks, and bathtubs and are caused by an accumulation of minerals in hard water. These stains can be removed with some hard work and cleaning products, but will continue to return. A similar buildup occurs in dishes, which can be seen in the well-known white spots on glassware. This happens when hard water evaporates and it leaves the minerals behind as a spot on the glassware. If hard water has the power to leave stains in appliances, and can leave spots on dishware, then one can only imagine the amount of build-up of minerals that must be present in the pipes carrying the water. Over time, hard water can cause an accumulation of mineral deposits to accumulate along the walls of pipes, which eventually reduces water flow and can even render pipes unusable.2
Laundry can also suffer when washed with hard water. This is mostly because the minerals in hard water don’t react well with soaps and detergents and soap scum is often left behind. When soap residues are left behind on fabrics, dirt and grime can accumulate faster and easier on clothes and towels, causing them to appear dingy and wear out quickly.2 In order to get clothes and towels truly clean during a laundry cycle, it is recommended that individuals with hard water use hotter water and four times as much detergent as individuals with softer water.2 This can become expensive very quickly.
Having hard water filled with minerals in the home instead of soft water can be detrimental to the health of skin and hair. Dry skin is more common in hard water users because the mineral deposits in the water have the ability to draw moisture from the skin.3 Additionally, as mentioned previously, hard water and soaps don’t mix very well, often leaving a soapy residue behind. Build-up of soap on the skin can contribute to additional dryness, skin irritation, itchiness, as well exacerbation of symptoms of a skin condition known as eczema.3 Hair is also dried out more often due to mineral deposits in the water and a residue of shampoo that has not been rinsed from the hair.
What can be done about the problems caused by hard water? One solution is to ditch the hard water and invest in a water softener. It’s estimated that investing in a water softener can save a family up to $800 per year, due to there being a diminished need to buy new appliances worn out by hard water and a decrease in the need to purchase more detergent, hot water, skin and hair products, and cleaning supplies to deal with hard water’s effects.2 Water softeners work by removing minerals like calcium and magnesium from the water before it streams through a home’s faucets. There are many different types of water softeners varying across price ranges, including reverse osmosis water softeners, salt-based and salt-free water softeners, and magnetic water softeners.4 Although having hard water can be an expensive and embarrassing problem, it doesn’t have to be.
1) “What Is Hard Water? – The Hard Facts | Whirlpool.” Whirlpool Water Solutions. Ecodyne, 2016. Web. 13 June 2017.
2) “Hard Water – 8 Major Signs You Have Problems.” Water-Right. N.p., 7 Dec. 2015. Web. 13 June 2017.
3) “Hard Water Problems for Homeowners.” Owens Soft Water, Inc. N.p., 22 May 2017. Web. 13 June 2017.
4) “Our Best Water Softener Reviews – Find the Right System for Your Home.” SofterH2O. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2017.