What is Hard Water?

What is Hard Water

More than 85% of water in the United States is hard water. Although hard water is not harmful to health, it can cause some inconveniences in daily life. Therefore, many American families and businesses are using different methods to solve the hard water problem. Below we will take you to discuss how to turn hard water into soft water and what effects it will have on your home.

What is hard water?

Hard water is water with higher concentrations of calcium and magnesium ions. These minerals usually come from minerals that dissolve when water flows through rocks such as limestone, gypsum or dolomite. Hard water is not a direct health hazard, but it will bring a lot of trouble to life, such as an easy-to-form scale on the pipe faucet, soap, and detergent washing efficiency is reduced.

What causes hard water?

The main reason is that water dissolves some minerals in the process of infiltration through the formation of rocks and soil. For example, limestone contains calcium and magnesium carbonate, while gypsum and talc contain calcium and magnesium, which directly lead to the main cause of water hardening. At the same time, aging water pipes and taps may release metal ions that increase the hardness of the water. Many people may use lime to soften water, which can cause the water to harden.

Is well water hard water?

Is well water hard water? It depends on many factors. Simply put, if the groundwater layer where the well water flows contains more calcium and magnesium ions, then the well water is likely to be hard water.

Rocks such as limestone, dolomite, gypsum, and talc are rich in calcium and magnesium. When well water passes through these rock layers, it will dissolve the minerals in them, causing the hardness of the well water to increase. On the other hand, if the well water mainly passes through layers with a relatively simple composition such as gravel and sand, then its hardness may be lower. Therefore, it is impossible to conclude that all well water is hard water, and it needs to be judged based on the specific situation. The hardness level of well water can be determined through water quality testing.

Water hardness levels in the United States

National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) studied the water quality of 2,100 domestic wells in the United States. The specific parameters of water hardness are shown in the table below.

Hardness Level Total Hardness (mg/L)
Soft Water 0-60
Slightly Hard Water 61-120
Moderately Hard Water 121-180
Hard Water >180

How can l tell if l have hard water?

How do I know if I have hard water? You can try the following household identification methods:

Method 1: Take a cup of hot water, pour in the soapy water, and stir gently. Foam on the water's surface is soft water, and scum on the water's surface is hard water, the more scum, the greater the hardness of the water.

Method 2: Heating with a beaker, leaving more scale on the wall of the cup is hard water. Because hard water is water containing more soluble calcium and magnesium substances, after heating, these soluble calcium and magnesium substances into insoluble substances, precipitated impurities are more hard water, the more impurities, the greater the hardness of water.

Method 3: Use two dry, clean towels, respectively dip in hard water and soft water, wring out and wipe the lens, dry and observe the water stains on the lens for hard water, no water stains on the lens, bright as new soft water.

Method 4: Soft water and hard water are used to make ice cubes because calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate are insoluble in water, it can be observed that ice cubes made of hard water are cloudy in color and have odor, and ice cubes made of soft water are crystal clear and feel soft and smooth.

I believe that if you use any of the above methods, it will quickly help you identify whether it is hard water.

Can I drink hard water?

If you identify that the water you are using is hard, you may ask, can you drink hard water, and is drinking hard water harmful to your health?

Yes, you can drink hard water, and for most people, drinking hard water will not cause harm to your health. Hard water is mainly because it contains more calcium and magnesium ions, and these minerals have certain benefits to the human body. However, the human body generally obtains most of its healthy minerals through diet, rather than relying on hard water to supplement minerals.

Does boiling hard water make it soft?

Not necessarily. Hard water contains more calcium and magnesium ions. Boiling hard water will only accelerate the formation of scale because high temperatures will accelerate the precipitation of calcium and magnesium ions. Boiling does not change the chemical composition of water and may even increase the hardness of water, so hard water is still hard water after boiling.

Is tap water hard or soft?

Tap water is usually hard water. Hard water refers to water that contains more soluble calcium and magnesium compounds. These minerals exist in the form of ions in the water, making the water have a certain hardness. Although some impurities can be removed during the treatment of tap water, to keep the water safe and suitable for drinking, minerals such as calcium and magnesium are not completely removed, so tap water is generally considered hard water.

About 85% of the water in the United States is hard water because most homes and businesses in the United States use softeners, which can remove minerals from water and make it soft.

Hard water has a certain impact on daily life. For example, the effect of using soap or detergent may not be as good as soft water, and it is easy to form a scale when heated.

How to convert hard water to soft water?

If you want to turn hard water into soft water, you can try the following methods to achieve it.

Ion exchange method

Using specific cation exchange resin, sodium ions are used to replace calcium and magnesium ions in water. Since the solubility of sodium salt is very high, it avoids the formation of scale with the increase in temperature. This method is the most commonly used standard method. The main advantages are stable and accurate effects, and a mature process. The hardness can be reduced to 0.

Membrane separation method

Both the nanofiltration membrane and reverse osmosis membrane can intercept calcium and magnesium ions in water, thereby fundamentally reducing the hardness of water. The characteristics of this method are obvious and stable effects, and the treated water has a wide range of applications. Therefore, you can choose to use ITEHIL reverse osmosis water filter to quickly and effectively turn hard water into soft water.

Related: Can RO systems soften water?

Electromagnetic method

Adding a certain electric field or magnetic field to the water changes the characteristics of ions, thereby changing the deposition speed of calcium carbonate (magnesium carbonate) and the physical characteristics of the deposition to prevent the formation of a hard water scale. Its characteristics are small equipment investment, easy installation, and low operating costs; but the effect is not stable enough, there is no unified measurement standard, and because the main function is only to affect the physical properties of scale within a certain range, the use time and distance of the treated water are limited.

Electrolysis method

Using the principle of electrolysis, calcium and magnesium ions in water are converted into insoluble precipitates. The advantage is that no chemicals are added and the water quality is safe. The disadvantage is that the efficiency is low and the precipitates need to be cleaned regularly.

Therefore, you need to solve the hard water problem. In addition to the above methods, you can also choose a special hard water filter.

Can filters remove hard water?

It depends on the type of filter. If it is an activated carbon filter, it cannot remove minerals from the water, but it can remove impurities, odors, and chlorine from the water. Ion exchange filters can effectively remove minerals from the water, thereby softening the water. Therefore, if you want to use a filter to remove hard water, you need to understand whether the filter can remove minerals, such as calcium and magnesium ions. If it can, then it can remove hard water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is hard water bad for your hair?

Yes, hard water is harmful to hair. The calcium and magnesium ions in hard water react with the oil and protein on the hair to form a thin film. Therefore, hard water can make hair dry, more prone to tangles, and even cause itchy or flaky scalp.

What is the disadvantage of hard water?

Hard water can make food and drinks taste bad and can easily form scale when heated, causing blockages and damage to electrical appliances.

Is rainwater soft or hard?

Rainwater is generally considered soft water. Because rainwater condenses directly from the atmosphere without being filtered through the ground, it does not contain a lot of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium ions. Therefore, rainwater is not hard water but soft water.

Is bottled water hard or soft?

It depends on the brand and quality of the bottled water. If the bottled water contains a lot of minerals, it is hard water. If the minerals have been removed from the water, it is soft water.

Is distilled water hard water?

Distilled water is made by removing impurities from water through evaporation and condensation, including calcium and magnesium ions that cause water hardness. Therefore, distilled water is pure water, does not contain any minerals, and is considered soft water. You can learn more about the difference between distilled water and reverse osmosis water.


I believe you have a certain understanding of hard water, and I hope this can be helpful to you.


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