As your go-to water filtration experts, we at Culligan get asked the question “what is hard water?” on a regular basis. In short, the USGS Water Science School defines water hardness by the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in water.
The water that runs through your house and in public buildings has varying levels of hardness based on calcium carbonate concentration. According to guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Interior and the Water Quality Association, water with less than 60 mg/L of calcium carbonate is considered soft, 61-120 mg/L is moderately hard, 121-180 mg/L is hard, and above 180 mg/L is deemed very hard. The numbers may not mean much if you don’t know what the effects of hard water are. So we’re here to fill you in on the impact that hard water has on your health and your daily living situation, and how soft water may be the better way to go.
Drinking hard water is generally safe. In fact, it may actually be beneficial towards your health. The benefits of hard water include fulfilling your dietary needs of essential minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. Some other possible hard water health effects have been linked to lower cardiovascular disease mortality. Although there may be a few benefits to drinking hard water, you might actually be better off switching to soft water. It has far more benefits, not just when it comes to consumption, but also for the pipes it runs through, your hair and even your skin.
While hard water may be safe to ingest, the effect of hard water on hair, skin and outside of the body is a different story. Taking a hard water shower can cause “hard water skin” and “hard water hair”—where the water can reduce moisture and leave behind a film, making both feel less clean to the touch. This may cause dandruff in your hair and irritate and instigate dry skin problems such as eczema.
Hard water also can negatively impact items within the household. Washing clothes with hard water can cause the clothing fabric to break down more quickly over time—hard water laundry syndrome tends to happen when hard water runs through the household appliances. Additionally, dishwasher hard water can leave spots on dishes, and cleaning with hard water can leave residue on your surfaces. As for your actual water piping, hard water can cause mineral build-up in your pipes and eventually clog them. You may also see rust or build up on your sink faucets and showerhead.
Now that you know the pros and the cons, you can decide what kind of water you want more of in your life. Culligan can help you find the appropriate balance by testing your water and providing a fitting solution. A whole home water softening system can help to correct the negative effects of hard water.