Do I Have Hard Water?

Shelly LaCaze  |  2/10/2010 11:12:04 PM

Hard water is a nuisance that many people deal with. It is often found in municipal water supplies that are drawn from underground sources where minerals leach into the water as it travels through soil and rocks. Large amounts of dissolved calcium and magnesium picked up in this way are usually the cause of hard water.

Hard water is prevalent throughout the United States. Louisiana itself sits above 14 major aquifers that provide nearly half of the state’s drinking water. Six of these ground water systems, including the Chicot and the Mississippi Alluvial aquifers, have moderately to very hard water.

One of the tell-tale signs that your water is hard is the inability to work up a lather with your household soaps. This decrease in your soap’s effectiveness is due to a reaction of the calcium and magnesium in the water with the fatty acids in the soap. Although hard water is not seen as a health hazard, the carbonate salts that form can account for scum and scaly residue buildup in showers and bathtubs. And in high-temperature conditions, like those in your home’s hot water heater and piping, the carbonate salts can eventually cause clogs that can reduce efficiency and cause damage.

The Water Quality Laboratory at the W.A. Callegari Environmental Center can help determine if you have hard water. Samples are analyzed for metals (at a cost of $12 per drinking water sample), and your water’s hardness is then calculated from the levels of calcium and magnesium present. The general classification guidelines for distinguishing hard and soft water is as follows: water with a calcium carbonate level below 60 mg/L is considered soft, a level between 61-120 mg/L is considered to be moderately hard, between 121-180 mg/L is generally accepted as hard, and levels over 180 mg/L are very hard.

For more information about this and other analyses performed at the water quality lab, please give us a call at 225-765-5155 or visit our Web site.

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