There are many commercial ways of treating hard water including water filters, water softeners, electromagnetic water conditioners and reverse osmosis. In this section we will look at the pro’s and con’s of several of the available methods to treat hard water.
|Method||Chemical Water Softeners||Water Filters||Mechanical Water Softeners||Magnetic Water Conditioners|
|Description||Chemicals added in laundering process||Drinking water from the tap is filtered with a portable unit||Permenantly installed in plumbing system to replace calcium and magnesium with sodium||Permenantly installed in plumbing system to alter calcium ions so they cannot cause limescale|
|Advantages||Removes Calcium and Magnesium and lengthens lifespan of clothes||
Output water is fit for drinking.
Increases heating efficiency
Lengthens lifespan of clothes
Output water is fit for drinking
Increases heating efficiency
Lengthens lifespan of clothes
Calcium retained, good for diet
Low running cost
|Disadvantages||Output water is not fit for drinking||Does not prevent limescale deposits in pipes and heating system||
Output water may not be suitable for drinking
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Hard Water Information
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Author: Paul Maunders
Paul is an Internet researcher after spending a lot of time looking for Hard water information on the Internet he decided to compile hardwater.org to help people who are hunting for more info. None of the information on this site is guaranteed as scientifically accurate and you should seek advice from an independent scientist if you need expert advice but we hope this site provides a good guide for the general public as to the best means of treating your hard water problems.
Hard Water Treatment
This site contains information on hard water, problems associated with hardwater, the benefits of soft water, and water treatment. It also contains reviews and comparisons of the various methods available to control water hardness.
Looking around the site, you will find reviews of packaged water treatment softeners (precipitating and non-precipitating), chemical water softeners, reverse osmosis water treatment filters, mechanical water treatment softeners and electro magnetic water treatment conditioners.
We have now also included some information on how water conditioners can be used to prevent limescale in solar heating systems.
What is hard water?
Water described as “hard” is high in dissolved minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium. Hard water is not a health risk, but a nuisance because of mineral buildup on fixtures and poor soap and/or detergent performance.
Water is a good solvent and picks up impurities easily. Pure water — tasteless, colorless, and odorless — is often called the universal solvent. When water is combined with carbon dioxide to form very weak carbonic acid, an even better solvent results.
As water moves through soil and rock, it dissolves very small amounts of minerals and holds them in solution. Calcium and magnesium dissolved in water are the two most common minerals that make water “hard.” The degree of hardness becomes greater as the calcium and magnesium content increases.
Useful tips to minimize the effects of hard water around your home
There are a number of tips you can follow to reduce the effects of hard water in your home, without having to make any major changes:
Choose a correct laundry detergent
Some laundry detergents do not produce as many suds in hard water, these are likely to be soap-based products and do not work as well in hard-water as detergent based products. Nowadays, there are washing powders and liquids available for a wide range of water hardness. Make sure you choose the correct detergent for your area; you may also need to use slightly more detergent than the manufacturers recommended amount to compensate for the hard water. In many cases the manufacturer will give specific instructions on how to use the product in hard water areas, look out for these labels on your product.
Reduce the temperature of your boiler
As the water temperature increases, the more mineral deposits will appear in your dishwasher, water tank and pipes. By reducing the heat of your boiler to about 55ºC, you will have enough hot water for your shower and you will reduce the amount of mineral build-up in your pipes and tanks.
Use rinse agents to remove mineral deposits
There are many rinse agents available to remove mineral deposits from crockery and dishwasher. Alternatively, you can use white vinegar by using the dishwasher dispenser or placing a cup of vinegar on the dishwasher rack. Boil some white vinegar in your kettle as a useful way of removing hard water deposits.
Hard Water Problems
Clothes washed in hard water often look dingy and feel harsh and scratchy. The hardness minerals combine with some soils to form insoluble salts, making them difficult to remove. Soil on clothes can introduce even more hardness minerals into the wash water. Continuous laundering in hard water can damage fibers and shorten the life of clothes by up to 40 percent.
Bathing with soap in hard water leaves a film of sticky soap curd on the skin. The film may prevent removal of soil and bacteria. Soap curd interferes with the return of skin to its normal, slightly acid condition, and may lead to irritation. Soap curd on hair may make it dull, lifeless and difficult to manage.
When washing dishes, especially in a dishwasher, hard water may cause spotting and filming on your crockery. The minerals from hard water are released faster when it comes into contact with heat, causing an increase in the amount of spotting and filming that occurs. This problem is not a health risk, but it can be a nuisance to clean and reduce the quality of your crockery.
Problems in Water Boiler Systems and Pipework
Hard water also contributes to inefficient and costly operation of water-using appliances. Heated hard water forms a scale of calcium and magnesium minerals (limescale deposits) that can contribute to the inefficient operation or failure of water-using appliances. Pipes can become clogged with scale that reduces water flow and ultimately requires pipe replacement. Limescale has been known to increase energy bills by up to 25%
Limescale in Solar Heating Systems
Solar heating, often used for heating swimming pools is prone to limescale buildup, which can reduce the efficiency of the electronic pump and therefore the overall systems performance will deteriorate. A low cost solution to this problem is to install a magnetic water conditioner before the pump, this will prevent limescale buildup and, over time, it will remove existing limescale.
Hard Water Benefits
Hard water is not a health hazard. In fact, the National Research Council (National Academy of Sciences) states that hard drinking water generally contributes a small amount toward total calcium and magnesium human dietary needs. They further state that in some instances, where dissolved calcium and magnesium are very high, water could be a major contributor of calcium and magnesium to the diet.
The ideal solution would be to leave the calcium in the water, but alter its state so that it couldn’t form limescale. This is exactly what magnetic water conditioners do.
Hard Water Testing
If you are on a municipal water system, the water supplier can tell you the hardness level of the water they deliver. If you have a private water supply, you can have the water tested for hardness.
As a guide, 60% of the UK population live in a hard water area.
Most water softener companies will be able to supply you with a free water testing kit.
Once you’ve tested your water supply, the hardness of your water will be reported in grains per gallon, milligrams per liter (mg/l) or parts per million (ppm). One grain of hardness equals 17.1 mg/l or ppm of hardness.
|Classification||mg/l or ppm||grains/gal|
|Soft||0 – 17.1||0 – 1|
|Slightly hard||17.1 – 60||1 – 3.5|
|Moderately hard||60 – 120||3.5 – 7.0|
|Hard||120 – 180||7.0 – 10.5|
|Very Hard||180 & over||10.5 & over|
Water Softeners Comparison
In this section you will find a table of water softener manufacturers and a brief comparison of their product offering in terms of price and guarantees.
Because of the environmental impact of owning water softeners I would advise everyone considering installing water softeners to read through my hard water treatment comparison page and consider more environmentally friendly alternatives like water conditioning units.
|Product Name||TwinTec Water Softeners||Clements Water Softeners||CAI Tech||Fresh Water Systems||Fountain Sotfners||Worldwide Water Systems|
|Based||UK / USA||UK||USA||UK||UK||USA|
|Price Guide||from £399 ($575)||from £499 ($720)||from £320 ($600)||from £350 ($660)||from £295 ($560)||from £265 ($500) Sales Price|
|Guarantee||Not specified||Not specified||3 – 10 years warranty||3 years warranty||up to 5 years warranty||90 day Money Back|
If you are a supplier of water softeners and would like to appear on our site with an independant review then please email us.
Magnetic Water Conditioner Comparison
We have searched the web to find you a list of suppliers of electromagnetic and magnetic water conditioners, along with the company name and web site address, we also provide an outline as to their price range, and the guarantee that they state on their site.
There are two types of magnetic water conditioner – electromagnetic (EM) , also known as electronic, and magnetic (M). Both systems work on magnetism, but the later has a finite lifespan and although there is no running cost, it is often more costly intially.
|Company Name||Water Imp||Water King||Clearwave||Magnetic Solutions|
|Price Guide||from £95 ($140)||from £110 ($160)||from £140 ($200)||from £230 ($330)|
|Guarantee||190 day Money Back – 5 year Manufacturers||100 day Money Back||180 day Money Back – 3 year Manufacturers||180 day Money Back|
Our recommended supplier is Water Improvements Limited as, in our opinion, they offer the best value, service and guarantee. Their site also supports secure online ordering, and they ship to anywhere in the world for free.
If you are a supplier of electronic / magnetic water conditioners and would like to appear on the site then please email us.
What is hard water?
How do I know if I have hard water?
What should I do to treat my hard water problem?
Whats the difference between conditioned water and softened water?
Will a water softener or conditioner provide treatment in water boiler systems?
Hard water is water that contains high amounts of dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
You should speak to your water provider, who will be able to tell you the degree of hardness of your water. Alternatively you can obtain a testing kit and find out for yourself.
In our opinion, the most comprehensive, and least expensive solution would be to install an electro-magnetic water conditioner. We recommend Water Imp, who offer a range of competitively priced conditioners.
In softened water the calcium and magnesium content is replaced with sodium. In conditioned water, the calcium ions are altered in such a way that they remain in suspension as small particles. Both methods prevent the formation of crystaline deposits (limescale) in pipes.
With conditioned water you have the added benefit that the calcium remains in the water, which is a good dietry mineral.
With softened water you have the problem that the sodium content of the water is increased which may make is unsuitable for drinking.
Yes, an electro-magnetic water conditioner will not only prevent limescale from building up, but will also, over time, remove existing limescale from within your water boiler system. We have no data for water softeners.
If you are interested in purchasing a water conditioner then visit Water Imp who are our suggested supplier.