By Joe Bongiovanni

Hard water and water hardness are terms thrown around a lot, but what does it mean? Water that has a high proportion of dissolved minerals is considered to be hard. The most common minerals that contribute to this are calcium and magnesium. These minerals then leach into the water as it passes over soils and rocks. Clean water is considered the universal solvent and therefor picks up all kinds of contaminants as it travels through the Water Cycle. According to the Water Quality Association, “The most common water quality problem reported by consumers throughout the U.S. is hard water. A U.S. Geological Survey indicates that hard water is found in more than 85 percent of the country.”


USGS Hard Water Map by Angel Water

Mean hardness as calcium carbonate at NASQAN water-monitoring sites during the 1975 water year. Colors represent streamflow from the hydrologic-unit area. Mape edited by USEPA, 2005. Modified from Briggs and others, 1977.

While these minerals may have infiltrated your water supply, it is no cause for alarm. Most minerals found in hard water, albeit frustrating and annoying, are harmless when indigested by humans. Water with high concentrations of calcium and magnesium can even be beneficial for some diets. However, it can negatively affect appliances, laundry, showering, dishwasher, water heaters, piping, lawn care, and overall home efficiency. Scale appears in the precipitate and coats surfaces with leftover mineral deposits.

So you have hard water in your household, now what? The good news is that there are a number of strategies that can be employed to combat high mineral concentrations in your water. Municipal Water Works use the “lime-soda process” to remove magnesium and calcium. The water is treated with a combination of slaked lime and soda ash. Water Softeners found in residential homes are much smaller and use a scientific process known as ion-exchange. Ion Exchange is the chemical exchange of similarly charged ions between a solution and a particle. A home water softener uses salt to continuously replenish the process. The result is odorless and tasteless water that is both clean and safe for the family. Other methods to reduce the hardness of you water include reducing the temperature of your home water heater and using a rinsing agent when running the dishwasher.

Call Angel Water at (847) 382-7800 or use our questionnaire to find out what water softening systems are right for you! Also, visit about well water or reverse osmosis filtration to learn the truth about salt-free water softeners.