Hard water is water that contains a lot of minerals, mostly magnesium carbonate, calcium, and manganese. Although not harmful to your health, the minerals in hard water leave behind deposits that can leave a residue on skin and hair, prevent soap from having suds, stain glass and tile, clog drains, make laundry dingy, and affect the functioning of electrical appliances like water heaters. Hard water usually comes from underground sources such as wells where minerals from rocks dissolve in the water. It is these minerals that give water the negative attribute called “hardness”. The level of water hardness is measured in units called grains per gallon (GPG). Water over 3.5 GPG can be considered hard, very hard if more than 10.5 GPG. An American Geological Survey found that 85 percent of homes have challenges with regard to hard water.
Fortunately, there are some relatively simple solutions to combat this problem. The following are methods to purify hard water for drinking.
1) Boil your water – Boiling water removes certain types of hardness so it will not work for all homes, but it is worth a try. Follow these steps:
- Bring the water to a boil fora few minutes
- Let it cool for a couple of hours – the white minerals should settle in the bottom of the pot
- Scoop or syphon the top of the water, leaving the minerals
- An option—before drinking, pour the water back and forth between the two containers to remove the flat flavor.
2) Buy a small ion exchange filter – Models can vary—some come in pitchers for storing drinking water while others can attach to a kitchen faucet. The filter does not actually get rid of most contaminants unless it contains a secondary filter (such as a carbon filter or reverse osmosis). The softened water usually has a better taste. There are also whole house systems containing a mineral tank at the center of the system. The tank usually has some zeolite beads or a small resin that carry a negative charge. Because the magnesium and calcium ions contain a positive charge, they cling to these beads when the water passes through.
3) Reverse osmosis – This involves membrane technology including an Osmotic Membrane Chamber. This chamber has tiny pores which allow water molecules to pass through it removing the minerals. This in a very efficient method for both water purifying and water softening. The downside is the wasting of water during the purification process and the usage of electricity.
4) Solar distillation – Solar distillation works through evaporation and condensation. A solar still can actually be an inexpensive piece of shaped plastic or glass. It works by allowing sunlight to shine through a clear panel onto the water. The water heats and evaporates, then condenses on the underside of the panel and runs off into a container of some kind. This process takes large amounts of energy.
5) Ultraviolet Light (UV) Light – It kills bacteria and viruses. When microorganisms like bacteria and viruses absorb UV light, certain chemical reactions are triggered which kill the organism. For UV to be effective, the treated water must be exposed to the light source for an adequate period of time. Like most methods, UV light alone is not enough and should be considered an adjunct to other treatment forms.
Choose a water softening system that fits your needs. This decision may also rest on the level of water hardness in your area. Remember that it is unhealthy to always consume soft water as the body needs magnesium and calcium to maintain a healthy metabolism. You can always add in correct amount of minerals by employing an alkaline cartridge.