What makes your water hard and how to avoid it

Water is water, right? Not quite. There are two types of water that could be in your home: hard vs. soft water. According to the Geological Survey, hard water exists in over 85% of homes. So, what is the difference between soft water vs. hard water and how does it affect you? Here’s everything you should know about the hardness of water.


What is hard water?

Hard water is the excessive presence of calcium and magnesium – two naturally-occurring minerals in water. The higher amount of these minerals that are present in water, the higher it will rank on the hard water scale. While both essential to everyday health, calcium and magnesium are not essential for water usage. In fact, hardness in water  can have detrimental effects on your home.

When using water for cleaning purposes, you may notice spots or a film of residue on your dishes, shower, or clothing. Not to mention, you may find particles inside of your appliances like the dishwasher or laundry machine. When hard water is heated, calcium deposits can form. If this builds up, it can greatly damage the performance and lifespan of your appliances. This includes your pipes and even your coffee machine. To make matters worse, your heating costs will skyrocket and the efficiency of your appliances will plummet. If your water is high on the water hardness scale, you might also notice effects on your personal hygiene. Hard water can leave a feeling of residue on your hands, skin, and hair upon washing. As a result, your hair and skin may feel more dry and brittle.

It is up to your water supplier to test water hardness before distributing it to your community. Luckily, you can still combat water hardness by softening your water. Using a water softener can reduce impurities in your water, including calcium and magnesium. What does this mean for you and your home? Cleaner water, appliances, hair, and skin.

What is soft water?

Unlike hard water, soft water is free of harsh minerals that can damage your home and your body. In other words, it is more gentle on your body and your home. Without calcium and magnesium, soft water can prevent scale buildup around your home including your appliances and pipes. Best of all, it increases the effectiveness in soap compared to hard water which can inactivate the soap’s ingredients. In regard to health, soft water can combat the dryness and stickiness caused by cold weather, low humidity, and hard water. What does this mean for your body? Softer, silkier hair and skin after every wash. Systems like Culligan’s Water Softeners can help soften water so you achieve more efficient cleaning in your home.


What kind of water do you have?

If you’ve been living with hard water for a while, you may be oblivious to its detrimental effects. Unsure if you need to soften your water? Look for the tell-tale signs:

  • Film or spots on your dishes, appliances, and clothing.
  • Scale build-up around faucets or in appliances.
  • Dull, flat hair.
  • Dry, itchy skin.
  • A layer of scum on hair and skin upon washing.

The water that runs through your house and in public buildings has varying levels of hardness based on calcium carbonate concentration. According to guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Interior and the Water Quality Association, water with less than 60 mg/L of calcium carbonate is considered soft, 61-120 mg/L is moderately hard, 121-180 mg/L is hard, and above 180 mg/L is deemed very hard. The numbers may not mean much if you don’t know what the effects of hard water are. So we’re here to fill you in on the impact that hard water has on your health and your daily living situation, and how soft water may be the better way to go.

Is Hard Water Safe To Drink?

Drinking hard water is generally safe. In fact, it may actually be beneficial towards your health. The benefits of hard water include fulfilling your dietary needs of essential minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. Some other possible hard water health effects have been linked to lower cardiovascular disease mortality. Although there may be a few benefits to drinking hard water, you might actually be better off switching to soft water. It has far more benefits, not just when it comes to consumption, but soft water also benefits the pipes it runs through, your hair and even your skin.

How Else Does Hard Water Affect The Body?

While hard water may be safe to ingest, the effect of hard water on hair, skin and outside of the body is a different story. Taking a hard water shower can cause “hard water skin” and “hard water hair”—where the water can reduce moisture and leave behind a film, making both feel less clean to the touch. This may cause dandruff in your hair and irritate and instigate dry skin problems such as eczema.

How Does A House Hold Up On Hard Water?

Hard water does have a more negatively viewed impact on items within the household. While doing laundry, washing clothes with hard water can cause the clothing fabric to break down more quickly over time—hard water laundry syndrome tends to happen when hard water runs through the household appliances. Additionally, dishwasher hard water can leave spots on dishes, and cleaning with hard water can leave residue on your surfaces. As for your actual water piping, hard water can cause mineral build-up in your pipes and eventually clog them. You may also see rust or build up on your sink faucets and showerhead.

Finding A Solution Through Culligan

Now that you know the pros and the cons, you can decide what kind of water you want more of in your life. Culligan can help you find the appropriate balance by testing your water and providing a fitting solution. A whole home water softening system can help to correct the negative effects of hard water. And although you may be getting your daily dose of calcium and magnesium in hard water, it may potentially contain contaminants that a water softening system could get rid of. You can go about treating hard water in a more holistic way with a whole home water softening system, leading to better water for your house and your health.

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