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Water Hardness: Definition, Example, and Explanation

Hard water is water with a high concentration of minerals. This high concentration of minerals is due to the amount of magnesium and calcium that gets dissolved in the water. In small amounts, hard water can be beneficial, as it provides minerals.
However, it can pose a great problem when the hardness of water is too high. This is why it’s important to regularly test the water for hardness. If the water hardness is too high, the installation of a filter is required.

What Is Water Hardness?

water hardness explanationWater hardness is the amount of calcium and magnesium that are dissolved in the water. Other substances may also appear, which will affect the hardness of the water. Water hardness can go from soft water to hard water, by the following World Health Organisation (WHO) parameters:

  • Soft water: 10 to 50 ppm
  • Slightly hard water: 5 to 100 ppm
  • Hard water: 100-200 ppm
  • Very hard water: Over 200 ppm

Industrial hard water differs significantly from domestic hard water, as industrial water uses multiple softeners and water filters. This is to prevent scale accumulation on the machines.
As water moves beneath the earth, it dissolves the minerals from the aquifers. The longer the water flows in the said aquifer, the harder it will be.

What Makes Water Hard?

Hard water is a result of the following minerals present in the water:

  1. Calcium Bicarbonate: Calcium bicarbonate in hard water fades away when the water is boiled. In these circumstances, calcium carbonate changes into insoluble carbonate. It may adhere and form scales on the surface that it comes in contact with.
  2. Magnesium: Just like calcium, magnesium also creates scales while increasing the hardness of the water. Magnesium usually appears through sulfates and chlorides.
  3. Salt: Water hardness caused by salt is often permanent. Salt also leads to water and detergent waste, as it forms a curd that is gelatinous and insoluble.
  4. Ferrous Iron: Ferrous iron may occasionally form in hard water, affecting the quality. Besides increasing the water hardness, this may cause brown stains and a metallic taste.

How Does Water Hardness Affect Water Taste?

Dissolved minerals affect water taste negatively according to the research of WHO. The taste appeal might depend on the consumer. Soft water that is mostly demineralized might taste flat, which is why most bottled water producers add minerals as well. The number of minerals will significantly affect the taste of water.

Do Water Filters Affect Water Hardness?

Water filters affect water hardness by removing the sediments and excess minerals from them. In order to see how the quality of the water is affected, one needs to understand how does water filter work.
Water filters remove the chemicals that might affect the quality of the water. Unlike water softeners that exchange magnesium and calcium for sodium ions, water filters remove them entirely.

How to Measure Hardness of Water?

To measure water hardness, a specialized kit or a test strip is required. Here are the steps:

  1. Collect the Water: Take the water and place it in the recipient. Water should not be collected from a water hose, as it might contain extra particles. The closer it is to the source, the better.
  2. Determine Measuring Option: Water hardness can be tested with home kits or at specialized labs. Determine which option works best for you.
  3. Remove Strip from Packaging: For the readings to not be affected, skin-to-strip contact should be avoided. The strip should be carefully removed from the package and added to the water.
  4. Wait for Results: For immediate kits, the results should appear in a few minutes. Lab results might take a few days but are more detailed.

What Is the Water Hardness in United States Regions?

Water hardness levels vary depending on each region in the United States. Some examples include:

  1. Arizona: With a level of 230 ppm, the water in Arizona is very hard.
  2. Texas: Average water hardness is past 200 ppm. Some cities may have soft water, but the majority of Texas has hard water.
  3. Alaska: Water hardness in Alaska goes from 65 to 1490 ppm. Depending on the city, it may go from slightly hard to very hard water.
  4. California: Water hardness varies from 100 to 300 ppm in California. Some cities have soft water up to 50 ppm, but most usually go over 100 ppm.
  5. Georgia: The state of Georgia has an average water hardness of 60 ppm. This makes the water slightly hard.
  6. Alabama: With a 61 ppm average hardness, the water in Alabama is slightly hard.
  7. Florida: Groundwater in Florida has an average hardness level of 200-400 ppm, making the water very hard. Most of the municipal supplies use water softeners, bringing the water in the cities to an average of 85 ppm. This means that most of Florida has hard water.
  8. Idaho: Water hardness in Idaho is around 128 ppm, making it slightly hard. Cities use water softeners, bringing it as low as 17, but groundwater in other Idaho cities can go as high as 350 ppm.
  9. Kansas: The average water hardness in Kansas is at 114 ppm, which is considered hard water. In remote areas, where the water has not been softened, the water hardness can go as high as 330.
  10. Indiana: The water hardness in Indiana is at an average of 262. This makes the water very high. Some cities may have hardness numbers going as high as 400 ppm.
  11. Louisiana: With a hardness level of 86 ppm, water In Louisiana is moderately hard.
  12. Nebraska: Nebraska has hard water throughout most of the state. Some cities have softer water as a result of municipal softener, but the average is at 204 ppm.
  13. Oklahoma: Water hardness in Oklahoma is at an average of 146 ppm. This puts the water within the limits of hard water.
  14. Maryland: Average water hardness in Maryland is 118 ppm, making it hard water. Some cities can have the water hardness going as high as 185 and as low as 99.
  15. New Jersey: With an average of 106 ppm, the New Jersey population has access to hard water. The state capital, Trenton, has the highest water hardness of 222 ppm.
  16. North Carolina: With an average level of 46, the water hardness of North Carolina is still within the limits of soft water.
  17. South Carolina: South Carolina has an average of 25 ppm water hardness. This means that the hardness of water is very low, on the soft side.
  18. Utah: Water hardness in Utah is very high, with the lowest water hardness level being 158 ppm. Some cities in the state can go as high as 327 ppm.
  19. Virginia: Virginia waters have a 72 ppm hardness. This means that the water is slightly hard in most cities.
  20. Wyoming: Water hardness in Wyoming is around 120 ppm. This puts it within the limits of hard water.

water hardness in the united states

What Is the Groundwater Hardness for the USA?

Groundwater is water that flows underground, through aquifers, and is pulled up through wells. 85% of the United States uses hard water (10-14 grains per gallon and, in some areas, even 15+ grains per gallon). Most of it comes from the aquifers that eroded in time.

What Is the Good Water Hardness for Drinking Water?

Water industries specify that hardness for drinking water should not go over 7-10 Gpg (grains per gallon). Hard water will not do immediate damage, but over time, it may cause problems for those with high blood pressure.

Is 50 PPM Hard Water?

Yes, it is considered that 50 ppm water is slightly hard for a variety of reasons. At this point, it is beginning to gather calcium and magnesium sediments, which harden the water. It is at the threshold between soft water (10-50 ppm) and hard water (50-100 ppm).

Is 5 Grains Hard Water?

Yes, it is considered hard water when it reaches 5 grains because one grain per Gpg (grains-per-gallon) means 17.14 ppm (parts per million). Water rated 0-3 Gpg is considered soft water, whereas 3-7 Gpg is considered moderately hard water.

What Is Water Testing?

Water testing is the procedure used to analyze the quality of the water. Water testing is essential to ensure the water meets safety requirements for drinking and usage. People should learn how to test the water, as water quality may change over time. Regular water testing will determine whether a water filter is required or not.
Hard water affects the majority of the population in the United States. Residents should regularly conduct tests, to determine whether they need water filters or softeners.

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