Is It Safe to Drink Hard Water?
Hard water has been described as tasting like dirt or leaving a metallic after taste. While not the most appetizing descriptors, it is perfectly safe to drink. Here we’ll discuss how hard water forms, why it’s seen as a problem, and how it potentially affects your plumbing system.
What is hard water?
Hard water is mostly found in groundwater supplies since its water that travels over and through the ground. Water is a great solvent which means it easily pulls minerals from the ground and rocks as it travels. Calcium and magnesium are the most common minerals found in hard water, but it also has increased amounts of brass, copper, and iron.
Most of these minerals harden as they’re deposited, giving hard water its name. Hard water is measured by how many calcium carbonate grains are in every gallon of water (gpg) and falls into one of five ranges:
- Soft: Less than 1 gpg
- Slightly hard: 1 to 3.5 gpg
- Moderately hard:5 to 7 gpg
- Hard: 7 to 10.5 gpg
- Very hard: More than 10.5 gpg
Why do people see hard water as a problem?
Generally, it makes cleaning yourself and your home a battle of futility. And it can cause unwanted breakdowns in appliances that use water.
- Irritated skin: The minerals in hard water and soaps counteract each other, leaving a residue of soap and other skincare products on your skin after rinsing. It also pulls moisture from your skin, giving you a tight, itchy feeling.
- Flat hair: When moisture leaves your hair, as it does when washing with hard water, your strands fall flat. They also look lifeless thanks to a residue of shampoo and conditioner left behind due to incomplete rinsing.
- Still dirty laundry: The extra minerals block the laundry detergent and water from fully removing any odors and stains in clothing, bedding, towels, or any material in the washing machine.
- Cloudy but technically clean dishes: Calcium carbonate deposits are the residue or film many people with hard water see on their dishes after washing.
- Extra appliance repair: Because hard water leaves behind mineral deposits, this buildup can, over time, block the flow to any appliance that uses water. The appliance struggles to gather the needed water which leads to an increase in energy consumption and higher electric bill.
Drinking Hard Water Actually Has Some Health Benefits
While the cosmetic issues related to hard water are a nuisance at best, there’s a growing body of medical evidence displaying the health benefits of drinking hard water.
- Good heart health: The increased levels of calcium and magnesium directly stimulate the heart and its capacity to efficiently pump blood through the body.
- Possible cancer prevention: The high concentration of magnesium provides a considerable stimulation to your immune system and offers protection for all types of cancer.
- Benefits for diabetics: The body’s channels responsible for regulating insulin production depend on magnesium. Because studies have shown diabetes interferes with magnesium production in the body, the higher concentration in hard water could be beneficial.
- Improved digestive health: In the right combination, calcium and magnesium can help mitigate constipation, along with magnesium helping with stomach cramps.
The Only Thing Hard Water Hurts are Your Pipes (Potentially)
While hard water can be linked to better overall health for you, it can do a number on your pipes and plumbing system. Mineral deposits and limescale are the biggest issue and lead to problems such as:
- Clogged drains: As the deposit inside a drain grows — thick layers of minerals — the water begins to back up no matter how much you plunge or use drain cleaner.
- Decreased water flow: Whether the water flow decreases because of a clog in the pipe or in the faucet mesh, it’s a common byproduct of mineral deposits.
- Corrosion: If you have an older home, it likely has metal pipes known to react and corrode when exposed to high levels of calcium and magnesium. These corrosion spots weaken the pipe and may cause it to leak or break.
Can I Use Drain Cleaner to Get Rid of Hard Water Build-Up?
Yes, but drain cleaners don’t do anything to stop the mineral deposits from returning. You’ll have a clear drain for a while, but that’s it. If you do use these common products, never use them in a water line as the toxic ingredients can poison anyone who drinks the water.
Since hard water is a fact of life for millions of people, regular plumbing maintenance is one of the best ways to handle the situation. A trained plumber may flush the pipes and appliances, such as the water heater once a year to remove mineral deposits and limescale. Another option is installing a water softening system in your home.
Hard water isn’t the most refreshing thing in the world to drink, but it does have several health benefits. Have hard water or plumbing questions? Call Proskill today.