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Tuesday, July 5, 2011
What is hard water and is it safe to drink? This question is asked thousands of times every day by homeowners across the world. The answer, however, depends on several factors, depending on where you live. There are some commonalities, though, when it comes to answering the question: what is hard water. Let’s look at those.

The term hard water refers to water that has various dissolved minerals in it. These minerals can vary, depending on where you live. This means that hard water found on the east coast may be different than hard water found on the west coast. In both cases, though, the water contains dissolved minerals. Generally, magnesium and calcium are the two most prevalent types of minerals found in most hard water.

To further answer the question: what is hard water and is it safe to drink? The answer to the latter part is usually yes, it is safe to drink. Hard water, because of its mineral content, often has a taste to it that many people do not enjoy. But, if it is free of bacterial contamination, it is safe to drink.

Hard water can, however, become troublesome in other ways. For instance, hard water can play havoc on plumbing, especially on pipes. The mineral content within the water can become attached to the inner lining of the pipes and cause them to decrease in width, reducing water flow and pressure over time. It can cause unsightly stains on faucets and sinks. Hard water often causes soap and laundry detergent to perform poorly.

How does water become "hard"?

Water is actually a solvent, chemically speaking. As it seeps through the soil or through rocks, it picks up the minerals it comes into contact with. Water will then hold those dissolved solids in solution until the minerals are removed by some means.

As we said above, calcium and magnesium are two of the most common minerals found in most types of hard water. The level of hardness in the water depends on how much of these minerals are in the water as well as the level of any other minerals that may be in the water too.

We have answered the question: what is hard water? Now, let's look at some ways to treat it.

Just a few decades ago, treating hard water was an expensive process, often involving large minerals removal devices. That has all changed. Today, homeowners, and even renters, can purchase water filters that will "soften" the water by removing various types of minerals, including calcium and magnesium. The cost of these water filers varies, depending on the type of water filter you choose. Whole-house water filters can treat the entire household water as it comes into the house. Point-of-use water filters can treat the water at the tap or shower head.

To learn more on how you can defeat the problems associated with hard water, read our articles "How to Test for Hard Water" and "How to Treat Hard Water".

by: Chris Tracey


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