When water passes through or over limestone or chalk deposits, chalk and magnesium ions dissolve into the water and it is their presence that makes the water ‘hard’.
One of the most visual ways of knowing if you have hard water at home it is by having a look to a kettle.
If your kettle looks as the one on the picture above, you most definitely have hard water coming from your kitchen’s tap.
Drinking hard water it does not pose a health problem so most of the people ignores the deposits on the kettle and continues using it for as long as it lasts.
But, as more and more scale accumulates on the heating elements, the more inefficient they become and then more time and electricity it is needed to boil the water.
Before installing a household water filtration system, we were cleaning the kettle once a week. Since we installed the filtration system, three years ago, we haven’t had to clean the kettle even once.
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What are the effects of hard water
Having hard water at home has also some effects that are not as obvious as the accumulation of limescale on a kettle.
Hard water builds up on the pipes causing reduced water flow and drop of pressure. And, if the accumulation continues for a long period, it may be even necessary to replace the pipes.
Additionally, the hottest parts of the house plumbing system are more prone to limestone precipitation so water heaters will be specially affected, leading to a decrease of efficiency and by default an increase on the electricity usage.
Drinking hard water does not pose a health problem but, according to a study from the World Health Organization, using hard water in combination with soaps or shampoos may cause skin irritation or exacerbate eczema because hard water prevents soaps from rinsing off from the skin, causing contact irritation.
An study from the Royal Society of Chemistry explain in an study that when soap is used in combination with hard water, a substance denominated scum is formed which does not dissolve in water and which has limited cleaning capacity.
This substance, the soap scum, apart from the already mentioned skin irritation problems, builds up on the hair causing the hair to look rough and dull and it also may damage fabrics and clothes making them scratchy.
Soap scum can also leave stains in sinks, showers, bathtubs and water fixtures as well as on shower glass which will increase the cleaning frequency and the use of cleaning chemicals.
How to measure the water hardness
We have measured our home water hardness level using a FiltraSoft test kit and found out that we have slightly hard water.
The apartment block building where we are living at the moment has a hard water filtration system that reduces the water hardness level. Still, we know that we live in an area which has high hard water levels.
We have proven this fact by collecting water samples from friends and colleagues who live within 50 km from our house and all of them, because they don’t have a hard water filtration system, have much harder water than ours.
Filtrasoft test kit
Clicking on the image below will re-direct you to the Amazon page where you can find more details about the FiltraSoft test kit.
We have made a video showing how to use the FiltraSoft test kit. Do not forget to ENABLE the YOUTUBE CAPTIONS because they display important information and details.
For those with soft water at home, the journey does finish here, but for those who have hard water at home, it may be time to take steps towards reducing the water hardness.
How to lower water hardness
The approach may differ for those living in a house or an apartment block, or for those who own a property or those who are renting a property. Here we are going to suggest some solutions for any and all the cases.
Household water filtration system
The most efficient way to reduce water hardness it is to install a household water filtration system.
This system is connected to the main water supply that provides filtered water to the whole house. This system is relatively easy to install but it requires a little bit of handiwork and a big load of common sense. You don’t want to make a lousy installation and then get water leaking all over the place. In case of doubt, better to hire a professional or a handyman.
For more information about this or similar products, clicking on the picture will lead you to Amazon where you can find more specifications.
Magnetic water conditioner clamps
It may be that for some people it is not feasible to install a household filtration system, specially for those renting or living on an apartment block.
Still, there are alternatives like the one shown on the right hand side picture, which are clamps that can be attached to the water pipes and reduce water hardness and limescale by generating a magnetic field.
For more information about the product, clicking on the picture will lead you to Amazon where you can find more specification and, more importantly, customer reviews with feedback from those who have already purchase this or similar items.
Some people have been able to noticeably reduce water hardness and limescale while other people state that it does little or nothing.
Shower head filter
For those who have noticed the negative effects on hard water while showering, because of the effects of hard water on soap, a very easy and relatively cheap solution is to install a shower head filter like the on shown on the right hand side picture.
This shower head will not only support with reducing water hardness but will also decrease levels of chlorine, fluoride, toxins, heavy metals… and also will support with reducing your bathroom water consumption.
For more information about this or similar products, clicking on the picture will lead you to Amazon where you can find more product specifications
Ways to conserve water
Water conservation can be defined as the decision and the act of using less water
Water conservation both benefit you and the environment
The act of saving and conserving water does benefit you because you will be paying less on your water bills.
And it also does benefit the environment because conserving water prevents any unnecessary waste of natural resources.
Now, at individual level it may not look worth to try to save a few litres or gallons here or there.
Still, every little counts and if hundreds or thousands of us do save a little every time, it will make an important contribution towards conserving our natural resources.
For example, if 9000 households would manage to save as little as 5 liters of water per day:
> Collectively, we would be saving over 16,000,000 liters of water per year!
> Collectively, assuming a cost of 2 euro per cubic meter of water, we would be saving nearly 33,000 euro per year!
Proven ways to save water at home
If you are looking for water saving ideas at home, have a look to this YouTube video where we provide some useful tips to reduce the water usage and decrease the water bill.