Hard water can be annoying and costly, luckily there are ways to remove the hardness of water by using simple household products or by using systems that can automatically do it for you on a day-to-day basis.

Here we will look at what be the best methods are for softening your water at home.

Let's Start At The Beginning: What Is Hard Water?

No, when we say hard water we don't mean ice, nor does it hurt more as you fail to stick that flip from the diving board.

No, hard water is 'hard' because it contains higher concentrations of certain minerals, in particular calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. The higher the concentration the 'harder' water becomes.

This concentration is commonly measured in either mg/Lmilligrams per Liter or GPGgrains per gallon. Depending on the concentration we divide water hardness into four categories, soft water, moderately hard water, hard water, and very hard water according to the values in the table below:

Soft Water0-590-3.4
Moderately Hard60-1193.5-6.9
Hard Water120- 1797.0-10.4
Very Hard Water180+10.5+

So, Why Is Your Water Hard?

These higher concentrations are formed as groundwater picks up minerals while seeping through mineral-rich soil and rock formations.

Depending on the source of your water it may contain higher levels of minerals. Hard water is classified as such depending on the concentration of calcium carbonate within the water.

Okay, But Why Is Hard Water Bad?

The problem with hard water is that the effects might not always directly noticeable, unfortunately, over time these effects can have severe and costly consequences.

Less Efficiency Of Equipment

If left untreated hard water may cause scale buildup on surfaces or within water boilers resulting in a reduction of efficiency or even breakdown of your home's appliances.

Damage To Piping And Equipment

As mentioned, if left untreated the scale buildup might eventually damage your household's piping and equipment.

Piping could clog up. Heating elements could burn through because the scale build-up makes their job impossible.

More Cleaning

The scale build-up doesn't only occur inside your piping and appliances. It also remains behind on every surface within your house that comes in contact with water.

As the water evaporates the calcium and magnesium are left behind leaving a nasty-looking white residue everywhere you look. Because calcium and magnesium are not soluble they can be hard to clean.

And since your cleaning water most likely also is hard, the cleaning process itself can still leave stains. You thus enter a never-ending cycle of cleaning.

Best Methods For Softening Hard Water

Luckily there are several ways to remove hardness from your water, from simple household tricks to sophisticated systems that do the work for you.

Removing Hardness Without Any Appliances

Let's start with some simple household tricks, if you are in a hurry to get some soft water these might be for you.

Boiling Water

The solubility of calcium and magnesium is inversely related to the temperature of the water. This means that the higher the temperature the less calcium and magnesium can be contained within the water.

Therefore boiling water can soften your water as the calcium and magnesium are deposited at the bottom of your cooking vessel.

Be aware that this process can leave a lot of scale build-up and when using a water boiler for this method could destroy it.

Removal Of Hardness Of Water By Washing Soda

When soluble in water calcium and magnesium are ions, which will react with other ions in the right circumstances. One of these reactions can be with washing soda.

When adding washing soda the ions will react with the sodium carbonate and form a solid compound that is no longer soluble and thus ends up on the bottom. Leaving you with softer water.

This process will leave a lot of residues and can increase the alkalinity of your water causing your skin to become dry and irritated.

Be aware that this process could add a lot of sodium to your water and therefore should never be used for consumption!

Products like Calgon or Borax use similar processess for softening water.