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Hard and ferrous household water: why water treatment pays off

Although calcium is not harmful to your health even in higher concentrations, hard water has a number of disadvantages (not only) for your wallet. Investing in its treatment will definitely pay off for you.

Soft water keeps your health and budget in check

If your water at home is hard, you are certainly having limescale problems. It is not only unsightly, but also leads to malfunctions of your appliances such as washing machine, dishwasher or coffee maker. In the case of hard water, their service life is significantly reduced by up to a third.

In addition, hard water dries up your skin and hair, which is especially troubling for people with atopic dermatitis (eczema). Hard water reduces the efficiency of detergents and, in the case hot water pipes build-up, also the efficiency of heating. Your investment in water softening will pay for itself in a few years.

On the contrary, cosmetics and detergents dissolve much better in soft water, so your laundry will smell beautifully and be soft, and your consumption of detergents will be much lower. Soft water is also more environmentally friendly, prolongs the life of appliances and prevents limescale creation on faucets, sinks or other appliances. Soft water also tastes better, better preserves food properties during cooking and is healthier for your skin.

Limescale decreases the life of your appliances and efficiency of detergents.

How is hard water formed?

Hard water is simply water with a high mineral content (calcium and magnesium). It most often occurs in areas with calcareous subsoil. Hard water can come from a water main, a well or a borehole. The only source of guaranteed soft water is natural rainwater and snow.

The ideal water hardness falls between 0.7-2.5 mmol/l. Sfter water is so-called demineralized and is not suitable for long-term consumption. Water with a calcium content of 2.5-3.75 mmol/l is hard, very hard water then has values ​​above 3.75 mmol/l.

How to indicate water hardness in your home

You can detect hard water simply by limescale deposition on your faceuts and appliances. If you are unsure, you can find out if your water is hard in three ways.

  • Soap test: Add a few drops of liquid soap to a glass of water and shake it. In soft water contents should remain clear and soap will foam. If the soap does not foam and the water is cloudy, it is then hard water.
  • From your water supplier: Water companies are obliged to inform the public about the exact composition of the supplied water. Therefore, if you are pumping water from the water supply line, contact them for information.
  • Water analysis: The exact values ​​of all minerals and other substances in your water can be measured by a professional water analysis. Thanks to the analysis, you can also set the ideal performance of your water softener.

How to pick a water softener

A softener is a water filter that removes unwanted calcium and magnesium. There is a really wide range of softeners on the market that work on different principles - either salt-based (ionic softeners) or salt-free (catalytic water softeners).

  • Ionic water softeners work on a simple ion exchange principle. They contain ion exchange resin and salt, which is why they are sometimes called ion exchange or brine softeners. In an ion exchanger (water-insoluble granulate), calcium and magnesium ions are absorbed from the water and sodium ions are released. Unwanted minerals are then flushed down into the waste, all other important elements in your water remain. Ionic water softeners have high efficiency and are suitable for water softening even in larger buildings with high water consumption.
  • Catalytic water softeners (conditioners) do not remove calcium and magnesium, they only transfer limescale into crystals through physical reaction. This prevents the formation of limescale, but the composition of the water does not change. In this case, the installation of mechanical water filtration is suitable, because it captures the crystals formed.

An important parameter is the capacity of your softener, which should correspond to the usual water consumption in your home. Also focus on electricity consumption.

Water softeners can have numerous additional functions, such as setting the output water hardness or an intelligent control unit that automatically adjusts the power of your softener. The function of automatic notification of a regenerative salt tablet replacement is also very popular. Modern water softeners can also be controlled remotely with mobile apps..

Honeywell water softener

Water softener maintenance

Ionic water softeners need electricity to run. The granulate in the ion exchanger has a limited service life. However, it can be very easily and cheaply regenerated with ordinary table salt.

For this purpose, salt in tablet form is sold. The salt in the granulate triggers the opposite process, i.e. the granulate traps sodium ions and is then again able to efficiently scavenge calcium and magnesium ions from the water. Salt replenishment is performed once every few weeks. The cation exchange resin in softeners has a expiration of about 10 years.

Iron water

High content of iron, manganese or arsenic in water is usually a less common problem, but certainly not less serious.  EU's standard for drinking water allows a maximum of 0.2 mg/l for iron and 0.05 mg/l for manganese. Ferrous water may (but may not) have a rusty color and ferrous taste, causing red or orange stains on faucets or laundry, and forming deposits in pipes and appliances, reducing their functionality and service life. Iron in water also causes colonies of ferric bacteria, which form a mucous coating and bad smell of water.

Iron and manganese filters also contain a special granulate containing manganese dioxide, which in this case acts as a catalyst - by chemical reaction, it precipitates unwanted dissolved metals into insoluble ones and then captures these particles.

Ferrous water filter cartridges must be regularly regenerated by backwashing, flushing out deposited particles. Therefore, maintenance does not represent an additional financial investment and in the case of modern filters it takes place completely automatically.

Protect your appliances and your health. If you have hard or ferrous water at home, investing in its treatment will definitely pay off. There are also combined devices available on the market which, thanks to special filter mixtures, can adjust the hardness and iron content of the water.