How To Remove Hardness Of Water

by | Nov 3, 2023

How to remove hardness of water

The hardness of water is because of the dissolved salts of magnesium and calcium in it. The ability of water to not lather with soap is known as the hardness of water. Similarly, the water that lathers with soap and does not have dissolved salts of heavy metals in it is soft water.

These impurities dissolve in water when it flows down the mountains rich in these salts. Hard water is generally not harmful to health but may lead to dry skin and hair. Hence, it is generally advisable to remove hardness from water before consuming it.

It may or may not be an easy job to remove hardness of water, depending on the type of hardness. In this article, we will discuss in detail all the steps you need to take to remove the hardness of water. We will also help you detect the symptoms of hard water, its effects, and its cure.

What Is Hard Water?

Hard water is a condition of water wherein it consists of dissolved salts of magnesium and calcium. These salts are generally bicarbonates, chlorides, and sulfates of calcium and magnesium.

There are two types of hardness of water:

1. Temporary Hardness

The temporary hardness of water is due to the presence of carbonates and bicarbonates of calcium and magnesium in water. This hardness is temporary, as it can be removed simply by boiling the water.

Upon boiling the water, the dissolved salts get converted into their respective metal hydroxides, which are insoluble and settle down as precipitate. Soft and pure water is obtained upon filtration from this stage.

2. Permanent Hardness

The permanent hardness of water is due to the presence of chlorides and sulfides of calcium and magnesium in water. This hardness is permanent, as it cannot be removed by boiling the water.

Permanent hardness can be removed by treating water with washing soda. This treatment converts the dissolved salts into insoluble metal carbonates; hence, soft water is obtained. This process may not be cost-efficient if the amount of dissolved salt is very high or a higher concentration of Ca and Mg ions is present in water.

How To Identify Hard Water?

It is impossible to identify hard water using the naked eye, but the symptoms of hard water are clearly visible.

Here are some of the significant symptoms of hard water:

  1. Stains on kitchen utensils and hardware.
  2. Stains on the bathroom sink and tub, particularly scale build-up on faucets.
  3. Faded color and fast wearing out of clothes.
  4. White residue on utensils upon drying of water.
  5. Dry skin and hair.
  6. No formation of lather with soap.

Effects of Hard Water

Now that we’ve discussed the symptoms of hard water let’s talk about the issues arising due to hard water. 

None of us want our daily water usage to result in unpleasant experiences, right? Hard water has a metallic appearance and taste due to the presence of heavy metals. Furthermore, the presence of sulfur causes a pungent rotten egg-like smell.  It can also speed up the rusting of iron and steel. 

Hard water can have adverse health effects as well. Hard water doesn’t directly cause kidney dysfunction. However, some studies suggest that hard water could increase the risk of kidney stones due to its high mineral content.

In industries, hard water can lead to corrosion, equipment deterioration, pipe blockages, and reduced water flow pressure.

How To Remove Hardness Of Water?

As discussed, the hardness of water is of two types: permanent and temporary. Permanent hardness is more challenging to eliminate and results from mineral sulfates and chlorates.

Water softeners present a holistic solution for removing the hardness of water. Most apartment complexes and integrated townships in India have water softeners installed as a pre-requisite. Here’s our article discussing which water softener is the best for your home.

These are the methods to remove hardness of water:

1. Boiling:

Temporary hard water contains bicarbonates that precipitate into insoluble forms when heated. These solids later settle out.

2. Ion Exchange:

Hard water is passed through columns filled with zeolite or resin containing sodium ions. When hard water flows through, it binds to the less desirable ions in the water, while sodium ions are released from the column to replace them. Sodium ions are more acceptable.

3. Chelation:

Chelating agents, such as ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), bind to the unwanted ions in hard water, making them more manageable. Thus making it easier to remove hardness of water.

4. Reverse Osmosis:

This method employs an impermeable membrane that only allows water to pass through. Hard water is forced through the filter under high pressure, leaving behind larger particles responsible for water hardness.

5. Lime Softening:

Calcium hydroxide (slaked lime) is introduced to hard water, increasing its pH and causing the formation of precipitates like calcium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide.

These insoluble precipitates are subsequently removed, and an acid is added to the water to restore its pH to an average level.

Summing Up

The hardness of water is of two types: temporary or permanent. Permanent hardness is the more challenging type to address. This permanent hardness is due to metal sulfates and chlorates in water. Hard water can result in several issues, such as:

  1. Dishwasher Residue
  2. Reduced Foaming Of Detergents And Soaps
  3. Premature Wear And Tear On Clothing
  4. Diminished Water Pressure From Taps. 

If you notice any of these common signs, it’s advisable to schedule a home water softening appointment.

While hard water does not pose serious health risks, it can lead to dry skin and hair. Temporary hardness can be removed by boiling the water, but permanent hardness cannot. 

Home water softening can be achieved using water softeners. The scientific methods for hardness removal include Clark’s process, the Calgon process, and ion-exchange resin.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can we remove hardness from water?

Temporary hardness can be removed simply by boiling the water, and permanent hardness can be removed by treating water with washing soda.

2. How do you remove hardness from water naturally?

You can remove the hardness of water naturally by adding vinegar to it.

3. Can you boil water to remove hardness?

Yes, boiling water can remove temporary hardness but not permanent hardness.

Bhuwan Bhatia

Bhuwan Bhatia

Bhuwan Bhatia, an engineering graduate with a diverse background, has been passionate about entrepreneurship since age 13. Founder of edtech startup Technoshaala, Bhuwan now focuses on leading his innovative water management startup, FLOTAA, in Kanpur to create sustainable solutions.
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