The majority of water in the UK comes from groundwater sources. Rainwater permeates layers of soil, clay, sand and rock and in the process, picks up a number of minerals along the way. Water hardness is defined by the content of calcium and magnesium that is found in water. Therefore, the harder the water, the more calcium and magnesium it contains. Hard water is known to clog pipes and to complicate soap and detergent dissolving in water. Water softening and conditioning are techniques used to treat the ions that cause the water to be hard, in most cases calcium and magnesium ions.
Although non-toxic, hard water can cause a number of problems because traces of calcium and magnesium are left on the surfaces it comes into contact with, including pipework, glassware, surfaces and appliances. This build-up of deposits is scale and its formation leads to reduced flow rates, higher energy costs, under-performing appliances and in some applications increased detergent use.
The most common way to treat hard water is to use a water softener unit and connect it directly to the water supply. Water softening is an important process within filtration. When water is hard, it can clog pipes and soap will dissolve in it less easily. Water softening can prevent these negative effects.
A water conditioner, on the other hand, is a more innovative solution that manipulates the way the hardness minerals in a liquid solution behave. The result is that they are still present, but they don't build up on surfaces and cause problems. Since calcium and magnesium are healthy minerals to humans and other animals, keeping them in the water is a great advantage.
Treating hard water by either softening or conditioning will help expand the life span of machinery, such as laundry machines, and the lifespan of pipelines. It also contributes to the improved working, and longer lifespan, of solar heating systems, air conditioning units and many other water-based applications.
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