Tap to Read ➤

How to Soften Hard Water

Presence of hard water in households has its own set of disadvantages. Here are various water softening methods that can be conveniently used at home.
Priyanka Kosta Sonkushre Apr 16, 2019
Hard water sources are found in different parts of the world. In the United States, they are mostly concentrated in California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Kansas. Hardness of water is attributed to high concentration of calcium and magnesium ions in water.
Temporary hardness is due to the presence of bicarbonates of calcium and magnesium, whereas permanent hardness is a result of chlorides and sulfates of these ions.
The problems associated with hard water include; poor sud formation with soaps and detergents, mineral deposits in water heaters and air-conditioners, plumbing problems due to deposition of minerals or limescale, corrosion of appliances like dishwashers and washing machines, dullness in clothes washed with hard water etc.
Even though hard water does not cause health-related problems, other mentioned problems are quite significant and need to be addressed.

Hard Water Softening Systems for Households

Magnetic Water Softeners

This non-chemical method is the safest for softening drinking water. These softeners use magnetic field that is created by a magnet, to remove impurities and calcium and magnesium ions from water. They are placed near the water source either outside or inside the water pipe.

Shower Water Filters

These filters work well at high temperatures and high water flow rates. The technology used in these filters is the Kinetic Degradation Fluxion (KDF) that exchanges electrons with harmful contaminants. This exchange of electrons sometimes render few dangerous chemicals harmless. Chlorine, lead and foul smell are removed from water using shower water filters.

Water Filter Pitchers

Pitchers are one of the safest and cheapest ways of purifying drinking water at home. Besides removing phthalate and cryptosporidium contamination from water, these filters are also successful in removing many other contaminants.
They are Bisphenol A-free (BPA-free) and work well even in the presence of high levels of metals, chlorine, and microorganisms like bacteria and viruses in water.

Ion-exchange Water Softeners

Hard water used in appliances like washing machines, dishwashers etc., can significantly decrease their efficiency. For such appliances, water must be free from ions responsible for hardness. Ion-exchange water softeners are used to remove hardness from water with the help of two tanks namely; resin tank and brine tank.
Initially, hard water passes through the resin tank which is filled with resin beads. Here, calcium and magnesium ions in the water are transferred to resin beads which get saturated with it.
This water then passes through the brine tank where sodium ions are ready to replace the voids created by the removal of calcium and magnesium ions. In this way, hard water is converted into soft water by ion-exchange water softeners.

Reverse Osmosis

This method of water filtration can be used at low temperatures. Most filters working on the principle of reverse osmosis have a cellulose acetate membrane, which works within the temperature range of 55 - 86 ºF.
These filters have several devices like chlorinator, degasifier neutralizer, anthracite filter, microfilter, sand bed, activated charcoal filter, and deionizer. Depending on the quality of water required, untreated water can be made to pass through one or more of these filtration points.

Softener Salts

Softener salts used for softening hard water are zeolite minerals. A large tank containing softener salts is used. Water received in the household is filtered through zeolite minerals wherein, calcium and magnesium ions are replaced with sodium ions. Saturated minerals are replaced with fresh stock from time to time to facilitate proper water softening.

Some Easy Methods for Softening Hard Water

1) Boil water and leave it undisturbed to cool for sometime. Lime particles will surface out, which will eventually settle down at the base of the container. Carefully scoop out water for use and discard the settled layer of lime particles.
2) Take 1 quart of water in a container and bring it to a boil. Add 1 pound of washing soda to it and mix well. Let the solution cool and fill it in a bottle. Add 2 tablespoons of this solution to 1 gallon water before using it for cleaning purpose. This solution will not soften hard water, but will prevent any reaction between soap and lime.
3) Take one cup of water and mix ¼ tablespoon of lye to it. Add this mixture to 1 gallon of water before using it for cleaning.
4) To soften large quantities of water, fill it into large kegs and add some amount of lime or washing soda. Leave the water undisturbed for several days. Use softened water by drawing from top layers of water in the keg.
These easy tips to soften hard water can be used when full-fledged water softeners are not available at home. Getting a water softening system is a better option than using other techniques because it not only prevents problems related to hard water, but also drastically brings down household bills.
Water softening systems are available in different varieties. Some are manual units while some are automated. Analyzing the need and deciding the budget can help in choosing the most suitable system for a household.