Hard Water: What is it, and What to do about it
Can hard water cause you any problems? And perhaps just as important, is it easy to get rid of?
First, let’s start by understanding what exactly hard water is — that will help better diagnose our two questions above.
What is hard water?
Hard water as a definition comes from the WQA (Water Quality Association) — the de facto leader in the water treatment industry.
According to the WQA, hard water “contains dissolved compounds of calcium and magnesium and, sometimes, other divalent and trivalent metallic elements.”
They go on to note that the term itself (hardness) comes from its ease of use — or lack thereof. Hard water has higher “soap wasting properties,” meaning it takes more soap in hard water than the same wash in soft water.
To get into the numbers, here is a chart jointly by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (S-339) and the Water Quality Association:
An important note on interpreting this chart
This chart can be misleading (and is often misinterpreted), because it does not fully account for how the water behaves. Specifically, once the water has been treated.
The chart does serve to indicate how hard water will behave with different amounts or concentrations of untreated hardness minerals. The greater the grains per gallon of untreated mineral concentration, the greater you’ll see hard water behavior.
But this becomes misleading when you look at treated water. Sometimes, treated water may have the same grains per gallon, but because of the treatment applied to it, its hardness properties have been greatly reduced or even eliminated. And at the end of the day, that’s what’s important.
(A note to the ASAE and WQA: All that is needed to improve the meaning of this chart is to add a simple statement to clarify this standard refers to conce ntrations of minerals that are untreated.)
But now, let’s move on to the real questions…
Can hard water cause problems?
Simply put, the answer is yes.
Looking at it practically, hard water is almost always harder to work with. It can cause your clothes to wear out faster. It can affect the feel of your hair after showering (stiff and hard to work with). And it can cause your faucets and glassware to have ugly buildup. Sometimes this is in the form of white scale. Other times it shows up in various unsightly colors.
And while this is a pain to deal with on a daily basis, it can be downright embarrassing when guests visit your house or business.
So this leads us to the natural follow up: How do you fix hard water?
How easy is hard water to get rid of?
If done right, hard water is not a problem to fix.
The process of treating hard water is called softening.
There are a couple different approaches to this.
You can use a chemical process. Or a salt-based process.
While the salt route can seem like a more natural choice… It’s actually a process that harms the environment.
This is because salt systems produce so much salty wastewater. And that wastewater is actually hazardous to much of the green spaces around you and is the reason salt-based softeners have been banned in so many places with more to come. Salt systems also tend to take a bit more effort on your part. You have to do more to maintain them, and then you have to buy and store a lot of salt all year long.
The other approach is to use a chemical-based treatment system. But, again, prudence is needed, because not all water softeners are created equally.
At Cascadian, we started with the end goal of creating natural, clean soft water that was also good for the environment, or as we like to say Earth Friendly. For us, that means the whole process needs to be clean and easy. If it’s not that, it’s not part of a Cascadian system.
And so we start with a natural chemical process. And from there, we put our engineer hats on and worked out a new system (that’s called PolyHalt®). PolyHalt® is both efficient and clean.
How does it work?
This really comes down to your needs. Whether you’re looking for a smaller point of use system, a whole house system, or something even larger for, say, irrigation or even a restaurant.
We’ve built an ICS system to handle each level of need. (Learn more about Cascadian ICS.)
The ICS system is about 1/10th the size of a normal softener system, meaning it can be installed onto a wall and off the floor. And it’s also noticeably quieter than most other systems on the market because there is no drain or moving parts.
And there’s something else — something we’re particularly pleased with. Our ICS systems only take about five to ten minutes of maintenance per year. That’s not a typo.
In fact, our systems are so inconspicuous, that we’ve had to start including a cute little refrigerator magnet to remind our customers when it’s time to change the filters! Our customers got so used to clean natural water (with none of the headache normally associated with treatment systems) that they forgot they had one of our ICS systems installed!
To explore our ICS systems, view our products here.
What is ICS Integrated Cartridge Solutions?
For more technical details on what hard water is, see our article Hard Water Defined
For a look at what Soft Water is, see Soft Water Defined.
Had a water test but confused on the results? Read Why Does Soft Water Test Hard?
Or if you want to better understand What a Hardness Test Really Tells Us?
Do you have a salt-based softener but still have problems with spots on your glassware, shower doors and windows? Check out Silica – The other white spot.
And lastly, if you’d like to better understand what PolyHalt® (our proprietary formula for softening) is all about, read that here: What is PolyHalt® and How Does It Work?