What is Hard Water?

Have you noticed white deposits on your fixtures in the bathroom or spots on your shower door?  If you have, it’s hard water.  From bathing to energy consumption using appliances hard water has an effect on everything.  In fact, more than 85% of homes in the United States have hard water to some degree.

Hard water is defined as water with high mineral content consisting of calcium and magnesium.  It occurs when water percolates through the ground and is in contact with rocks and soil.  It doesn’t matter if your home’s water is supplied by a private well or a municipality.  It’s still hard water.  Even municipalities, who soften the water, do not soften it to complete soft water.  They usually soften the water to 7-10 grains per gallon, which is moderately hard water.  Check how hard your home’s water is?

Water Hardness Scale

Grains per Gallon Parts per Million Classification
Less than 1 Less than 17.1 Soft
1 – 3.5 17.1 – 60 Slightly Hard
3.5 – 7 60 – 120 Moderately Hard
7 – 10 120 – 171 Hard
Over 10 Over 171 Very Hard

Hard water can be measured in grains per gallon or parts per million.  If you ever need to convert either number, there are 17.1 parts per million per 1 grain per gallon of hard water.

When a home uses hard water, the effects are many.  Hardness will build in the home’s piping causing less water flow over time.  A water heater will need to heat up more often because scale will build up on the inside of the heater reducing its capacity.  Hard water creates a soap scum and buildup in your shower making it hard to clean.  These are a few effects of hard water in your home. For a complete list of hard water effects on the home, click here.

If you want to live with clean, soft water, the only tried and true method of removing hardness from the water is with a water softener.  Using soft water will save you money in the long run and your skin and hair will benefit too.