Water hardness refers to the amount of magnesium and calcium solids in your water supply.1 No matter where you live or work, where you get your water, or how satisfied you are with your overall water quality, home and business owners can all agree—hard water is a nuisance.
Luckily, there’s a solution to one of the peskiest problems in nationwide water supplies. While hard water cannot be filtered, it can be softened to significantly improve your water quality, protect your plumbing system, reduce your time spent cleaning, and more.
This article will break down everything you need to know about water softening (which is sometimes termed as filtering hard water). We’ll explore five benefits you can reap when you choose a water softening system and introduce you to a few potential solutions to your hard water woes.
#1 Meet Your Wellness Goals
If you’re new to the science of water softening, you might be worried that hard water could be a sign of a vulnerability in your plumbing system or an issue with your municipal water infrastructure, but hard water is normal and naturally occurring.
When groundwater—the source of most municipal and all well water—moves through rock underground, it dissolves loose solids that fall away from the rock as it erodes. While numerous compounds can dissolve into groundwater, hard water refers to the concentration of calcium and magnesium only.
Calcium and magnesium are essential nutrients that your body needs to survive:
- Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, making up most of your bones and teeth and helping keep your body’s tissues rigid and strong.2
- Magnesium is crucial for a variety of body processes, including:3
- Protein synthesis
- Nerve and muscle function
- Blood sugar control
- Blood pressure regulation
- Energy production
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends daily intake values for both minerals—between 200 and 1,300 mg of calcium and between 30 and 420 mg of calcium, depending on your age, sex, and pregnancy status—but ingesting too much of either may lead to unwanted health effects.
Consuming too much magnesium doesn’t pose a fatal health risk—since the kidneys eliminate any excess via urine—but it can potentially cause nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.
However, overconsumption of calcium is more serious, potentially leading to:
- Poor muscle tone
- Weight loss
- Digestive trouble
- Stomach issues
- Circulatory problems
- Low energy levels
If you see visible signs of hard water in your home or business water supply, you should make efforts to resolve the problem to prevent overconsumption of both magnesium and calcium, since too much of either can make you sick.
How Hard is Your Water?
There are four classifications for water hardness, measured in grains per gallon or GPG ) of total dissolved solids (TDS):
- Soft water contains less than 1 GPG
- Moderately hard water contains between 1-3.5 GPG
- Hard water contains between 7-10 GPG
- Very hard water contains more than 10 GPG
To determine your water hardness and whether you’re in need of water treatment, you can learn how to test water quality at home or consult with your municipal water supplier. Keep these numbers in mind when assessing the potential health risk of your hard water.
#2 Prolong the Life of Your Plumbing System and Fixtures
Calcium and magnesium are dissolved solids. Like dust in your air vents, hard water solids in your drinking water can collect in your pipes, which can potentially lead to:
- Reduced water pressure
- Excess weight and pressure, which can cause leaks and bursts
In addition, hard water solids can build up on the insides and outsides of your plumbing fixtures—for example, your kitchen faucet, shower head, and hose spigot.
Plumbing is a significant utility in your home, and it can be expensive to replace. Homeowners spent an average of $2,280 to $5,120 installing new plumbing systems in 2021.4 In addition, it can be difficult to diagnose internal plumbing system issues before it’s too late. You may not notice a gradual reduction in your water pressure until you have houseguests or a pipe cracks in your warehouse.
Resolving hard water issues before they become catastrophic can extend the life of the plumbing system and fixtures in your home or office, saving you money and protecting your hard-earned investment.
#3 Reduce Hard Water Stains—And Your Time Spent Cleaning
Calcium and magnesium solids are left behind when water evaporates. If you drip hard water onto the counter while cooking or washing dishes, you’ll likely find small rings of white, chalky residue when you return to the kitchen a few hours later.
Of all hard water ramifications, stains can be the most irritating. Even if you use chemical solutions instead of water for surface cleaning, spaces like the sink, kitchen countertops, and bathtub will inevitably keep gathering hard water buildup every time you use these high-traffic areas.
Hard water stains may also collect on dishes, giving your glasses, plates, and silverware an unpleasant, crusty coating and decreasing their shine.
Instead of succumbing to the endless cycle of hard water stain removal, opt for a permanent solution—softening your water. When you eliminate hard water from your home or business, you can save time scrubbing up calcium and magnesium residue and adopt a more relaxed cleaning schedule.
#4 Improve Qualitative Water Issues
In addition to its health, infrastructure, and visual impacts, hard water may also cause qualitative issues with your drinking and bathing water.
High levels of calcium and magnesium can impact your drinking water’s color, taste, and odor, which can also impact your cooking, laundry, and hygiene efforts. Why?
Hard water neutralizes soap.5
In fact, noticeably unpleasant effects while handwashing, bathing, or cleaning may be your first indication that you have a hard water problem. Be on the lookout for the following signs:
- Low volume of soap suds while washing the dishes or your hands
- This is the opposite. Hard water will create a rough dry feeling
- Residue on your laundry after the wash cycle is complete
Using a water softening solution can improve the color, of your water, thus enhancing your overall drinking water quality. Resolving hard water issues may also improve the cleanliness of your laundry, dishes, and body. Plus, with calcium and magnesium out of the picture, you’ll find yourself using less soap to work up suds.
#5 Enjoy Secondary Softening Benefits
Depending on the water softening system you use, you could achieve other potential water softening benefits while removing magnesium and calcium from your home or business water supply.
For instance, if you employ a water purification system that uses a physical media to filter out solids, this system will also usually remove other particles, like:6
- Organic solids (e.g., dirt and algae)
- Synthetic organic chemicals
Chemical water purification systems utilize chemical reactions to remove contaminants, and some systems may neutralize calcium and magnesium. They can also tackle some or all of the following:
Even if you don’t know which contaminants could be plaguing your home or business water supply, opting to solve your hard water issues usually offers an attractive secondary improvement: reducing the overall total dissolved solids (TDS) in your drinking (and bathing) water. A lack of these components in softened and filtered water may also help keep your skin and hair soft.
What Technology is Available for Water Softening?
Softening hard water is potentially beneficial for your health, plumbing equipment, cleaning efforts, and overall water quality experience. So, what technologies are available for water softening, and what other benefits do these systems boast?
Some of the available technologies on the market include:
- Reverse osmosis systems – Reverse osmosis systems push water through a semipermeable membrane for purification. A physical filtration method, reverse osmosis doesn’t rely upon chemical reactions or add any compounds to your water supply. It simply catches particles of a certain size, preventing them from flowing through the water filter. If you’re wondering, “is RO water good for you?”, you can learn more about this water filtration system to determine that for your water supply.
- Ion exchange water filters – Ion exchange filters use resin beads to neutralize contaminant ions in the water supply (including calcium and magnesium ions). The resin beads are recyclable, and these systems don’t require any filter replacements.
- Salt-free systems – While an ion exchange water filter provides a chemical reaction-based filtration solution, it usually includes a saltwater tank to wash and regenerate the resin beads used to capture contaminant ions. However, some municipalities don’t allow saltwater use in water filtration. Salt-free systems were created to neutralize hard water and other contaminant chemicals without the resin-washing component.
Rayne Water: Providing Clean, Delicious Water Since 1928
Softening hard water is a worthy pursuit. You may lessen the risk of magnesium and calcium overconsumption, reduce the damage of hard water minerals, and generally improve your home or business water experience with a water softener.
Finding the right water filtration system or water softener for you shouldn’t be a problem. At Rayne Water, we’ve been helping families and business owners choose ideal water purification solutions for nearly 100 years. From reverse osmosis systems to ion exchange filtration to salt-free systems and everything in between, we don’t just provide excellent service—we make every effort to bring the purest, tastiest water possible to your home or business.
With our team of industry professionals and a long-time reputation for quality, you can trust Rayne Water Conditioning to resolve any water quality issue that comes your way.
- US Department of the Interior. Hardness of Water. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topics/water-science-school/science/hardness-water
- National Institutes of Health. Calcium. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/
- National Institutes of Health. Magnesium. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
- Home Guide. How Much Does It Cost to Install or Replace Plumbing? https://homeguide.com/costs/install-new-house-plumbing-pipes-cost
- US Department of the Interior. Why Does It Take So Long to Rinse the Soap Off My Hands? https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/why-does-it-take-so-long-rinse-soap-my-hands-what-are-hard-water-and-soft-water
- US Environmental Protection Agency. Overview of Drinking Water Treatment Technologies. https://www.epa.gov/sdwa/overview-drinking-water-treatment-technologies#RO