Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How to Measure Water Hardness

I have heard many people say that they have hard water and others say they have soft water and when it comes down to it sometimes both are correct and other times both are incorrect.  Without testing the water one will never know just exactly how hard the water really is.

Let's talk about the types of water hardness;
1.  Temporary Hardness-Temporary hardness is a type of water hardness caused by the presence of dissolved bicarbonate minerals (calcium bicarbonate and magnesium bicarbonate). When dissolved, these minerals yield calcium and magnesium cations (Ca2+, Mg2+) and carbonate and bicarbonate anions (CO32-, HCO3-). The presence of the metal cations makes the water hard. However, unlike the permanent hardness caused by sulfate and chloride compounds, this "temporary" hardness can be reduced either by boiling the water, or by the addition of lime (calcium hydroxide) through the softening process of lime softening.[4] Boiling promotes the formation of carbonate from the bicarbonate and precipitates calcium carbonate out of solution, leaving water that is softer upon cooling.

2. Permanent Hardness-Permanent hardness is hardness (mineral content) that cannot be removed by boiling. When this is the case, it is usually caused by the presence of calcium sulfate and/or magnesium sulfates in the water, which do not precipitate out as the temperature increases. Ions causing permanent hardness of water can be removed using a water softener, or ion exchange column.
Total Permanent Hardness = Calcium Hardness + Magnesium Hardness
The calcium and magnesium hardness is the concentration of calcium and magnesium ions expressed as equivalent of calcium carbonate.
Total permanent water hardness expressed as equivalent of CaCO3 can be calculated with the following formula: Total Permanent Hardness (CaCO3) = 2.5(Ca2+) + 4.1(Mg2+).[citation needed]

So what does all that mean to you?  Let's simplify it, the type of hard water most people will have to 
fight will be permanent hardness.  And as you can see it is eliminated by water softener or ion exchange process.
So now we know that there are two types of water hardness now let's explore the way we measure hard water
in order to determine water hardness and buy the correct size water softener.

Water hardness is measured in a few different ways but we will only talk about 3 ways water hardness is measured
Mg/l = Milligrams per liter- when measured in this fashion it is 17.1
PPM= Parts Per Million- when measured in this fashion it is 17.1
GPG= Grains Per Gallons- when measured in this fashion it is 1
For example 10gpg hardness is 171.0 PPM or Mg/L

So in you'll want to know how it hard water is measured because when a salesman tries to pull the wool over your eyes
and says your water is really really hard and it is only 5gpg instead of 85 Mg/L or 85 PPM  It sounds really hard but 
let's look at how hard it really is according to our chart.
Classification          Hardness in Mg/L          Hardness in PPM          Hardness in GPG
Soft                                 0-60                       Less than 60                       0-3.5
Moderately Hard             61-120                       60-120                         3.56-7.51
Hard                               121-180                     120-180                        7.06-10.51
Very Hard                        >180                            >180                             >10.57

What do I use to measure my hardness?  Here are a couple of ways to do so.  You can go to the big box stores
and some will have a way to measure your water hardness by using a small matchstick style dipping stick and once
you dip it in the water you will match the color against the chart and it will tell you how hard your water is, you 
also have a water softener company come out and measure it for you but be prepared you may have to go through
a sales presentation.  You can also get the kit at a local pool supply place or you can go to Amazon for a kit.


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