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If there’s one common problem that most households face, it’s the problem of hard water. Hard water is not directly harmful to your health, but it has a lot of adverse effects on the pipework of a house and the household water appliances like the washing machine and the dishwasher.
In the UK, a large percentage of houses suffer from the effects of hard water, and in some cases, it is so bad that the tap water can leave a bitter taste in the mouth of whoever drank it. Thames Water has stated that, in the UK, 60% of people live in hard water areas. This article would explain to you what hard water is, and how you can protect your hair, skin and your family from it.
- 1 What is Hard Water?
- 2 Hard Water and Drinking
- 3 Protecting Your Skin from Hard Water
- 4 Protecting Your Hair from Hard Water
- 5 Protecting Your Home from Limescale
- 6 Permanent Solution to Hard Water
What is Hard Water?
Hard water can be defined as any water which has high mineral content, especially calcium and magnesium which are usually called hard water minerals. Because of the high levels of calcium in hard water, soap or shampoos don’t properly dissolve when taking a bath or doing the dishes. This leads to soap scum getting around your dishes and damaging your hair and skin. Instead of getting clean during a shower, hard water can cause the opposite.
Hard water also causes limescale which can buildup in the pipes and cause them to be blocked and damaged. It can also damage household water appliances like the coffee maker, dish washer, washing machine and the boiler.
Some of the minerals in the hard water also cause the skin to become very dry, and can lead to conditions like eczema and acne.
Hard Water and Drinking
After seeing all of that, you must be wondering if it is advisable for your family to drink hard water. And so, we are here to answer the question, ‘Is hard water safe for drinking?’
Firstly, a large part of UK’s water supply contains estrogen, which is the same hormone found in birth control pills. Because of this, a lot of people are scared of drinking from tap water. The tap water has been cleared safe for drinking, but if your water has a bad taste, then it is probably better to be wary of drinking it.
If you and your family have been drinking hard water, then you would be pleased to hear that drinking hard water does not pose any health threats. A lot of scientists and researchers also say that drinking hard water would add a small amount to the total human dietary needs daily for calcium and magnesium. Thus, drinking hard water might have a few benefits.
Apart from that, hard water is not a health hazard but more of an annoyance because of the effects it has on pipes, water appliances, skin and hair, and the way it tastes.
Protecting Your Skin from Hard Water
Hard water can lead to dry skin, leave soap scum on your skin and make it sticky, lead to eczema or rashes on your skin. Even with these effects, there are a few steps that you can take to stop hard water from having harmful effects on your skin. There are temporary solutions that you can consider like using bottled purified water to wash your face, or using aluminum sulfate to treat your water.
Water Softener Shower Head
If you’re looking for a solution to hard water adverse effects on your skin, then you can install a water softening shower head or a filter for your shower head to reduce the hard water minerals that come out of your shower. This leads to soft water and does not harm your hair or skin in any way.
After taking a shower with hard water, it is advisable to rub moisturizer. When you bath with hard water regularly, your skin can become irritated and dry. To thwart these effects, you can moisturize your skin right after you take a shower or if you wash your face.
It is more advisable to use a non-alcoholic toner because they are good with getting rid of any trace of minerals on your skin. If you have high levels of water hardness in your water, then you can use a coconut oil to moisturize your skin.
The minerals in hard water do not mix well with soap, and so they make it harder for the soap to dissolve. This is why it leads to soap scum on your skin that causes irritation and dry skin. If you want to reduce the chances of having soap scum and irritated skin, then you should reduce the amount of soap that you use. When taking a shower, you should concentrate the soap on areas where you sweat more, and reduce the soap on other parts of your body.
Protecting Your Hair from Hard Water
Your hair can also be adversely affected by hard water. Because of the soap scum caused by the hard water minerals, your hair can become dry, tangled and also become colored. Hard water can also lead to buildup of dandruff or eczema in your hair. There are a few ways to protect your hair from hard water. We have already mentioned making use of a water softener shower head. There is also the bottled purified water that you can use to rinse your hair out temporarily.
Rinse with Natural Acids
Vinegar, lemon and lime are great sources of natural acidity that you can use to rinse out your hair. Using these acids can reverse the effects of hard water in your hair, and also smoothen the cuticles, soften your hair, balance the pH and also get rid of dandruff. For shinier hair, all you have to do is use one of these three. With a tablespoon of one of them, and two or three cups of purified water, you would massage it in your hair and rinse it out after five minutes.
Use Clarifying Shampoo
They also reverse the effects of hard water minerals, and make your hair shinier and fuller. Natural clarifying shampoos are much better than those bought in the market. If you use the market bought products, you would need to use it little by little because of its harsh nature.
Leave-in conditioner is also a great way to protect your hair from hard water minerals. It is not as effective as natural acids or clarifying shampoo, but it still improves your hair texture.
Protecting Your Home from Limescale
The hard water minerals in your water supply lead to a white, hard and chalky substance called limescale which comes up when hard water is heated in the home. This is why it can block the pipes or damage water appliances. The best way to reduce limescale around the home is with lemon juice or using malt vinegar. You can apply these by:
- Using lemon juice or vinegar as an alternative to detergent in your washing machine.
- Mixing white vinegar and baking soda together, leaving it on an affected area, and scrubbing it away after thirty minutes.
- Using lemon juice or vinegar to fill up the kettle for an hour before rinsing.
Permanent Solution to Hard Water
In order to protect yourself and your family from hard water and its effects, you should turn to soft water permanently by purchasing a water softening system. It is an expensive solution, but it would solve the problem long-term instead of the other solutions which have to be repeated frequently. The other solutions also take a lot of energy and can cost a lot of money. There are a lot of great water softening systems out there that one can purchase. Once you install the system, no one in your family would have to worry about dry hair, irritated skin or limescale buildup.