Is your water soft or hard?
Hard water has high mineral content.
It’s rich in magnesium, calcium, and iron ions.
Water hardness increases the more minerals it contains.
The name “hard water” refers to water that’s problematic or difficult to work with.
According to the World Health Organization, hard water is safe for drinking BUT has CORROSIVE and SCALING effects upon prolonged exposure on things or surfaces.
Hard Water and Residential/ Personal Use
- Hard water and soap
Hard water reacts with soap to form soap scum responsible for creating a layer of scales on bathroom surfaces. If left on the surfaces for long, the scum becomes difficult to remove.
The mineral content of hard water also reacts with fatty acids in soap. It results in lime soap responsible for reducing the efficacy of soap.
Lime soap is inefficient in washing clothes, hair, and dishes. Therefore, it takes lots of rubbing for soap to lather, resulting in wastage.
- Hard water and hair
Hair is made up of tiny scales on the shaft or follicle.
Soap scum and high mineral content in hard water cause the scales to stand, resulting in rough hair that easily tangles. As a result, washing rough and tangled hair, and rinsing out soap becomes difficult.
The prolonged buildup of mineral on your hair follicle leads to brittleness and thus break down.
Whereas hair is negatively charged, minerals in hard water are positively charged. This means exposure to hard water still affects hair even without using soap. Such hair becomes weak, dries and dies. Dead hair follicles result in hair loss.
Other effects of hard water on hair include:
- Greying of hair
- Sudden hair loss or fall
- Scalp eczema
- Split ends
- Thinning of hair
- Dull, lifeless and tangled hair
- Brittleness leading to hair breakage
- Hard water and the skin
Substances such as soap don’t dissolve easily in hard water, leaving a layer of scum or residue on the skin. Washing clothes and bathing increase the risk of skin irritation.
Bathing involves first lathering shampoos, soaps, and conditioners on the body. Slow formation of lather wastes the cleansing agents and makes it difficult to rinse yourself. This is attributed to the residue deposited on your skin as a result of hard water reacting with your soap.
The residue deposited on your skin blocks pores, causing natural oils and moisture leaching from your skin. This causes skin irritation that results in flaky, dry and itchy skin.
Prolonged use of hard water results in dry skin. It also affects sensitive or problematic skin. For instance, it causes more dryness and discomfort on the skin with psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema.
Therefore, hard water causes a more critical and frequent breaks out of such conditions. Other effects of hard water on the skin include:
- Dry skin leading to acne break out, itching, cracks, inflammations, and flakiness
- The total failure of the skin’s natural antimicrobial properties because natural oils don’t reach the epidermis
- Free radicals on healthy skin cells from hard water impurities breakdown collage, leading to wrinkles formation
- Hard water and laundry
Lots of detergent goes into softening hard water instead of cleaning your clothes. The result is more detergent being used when washing.
Hard water reacts with detergent and the residue left behind to form small particles of minerals known as soap curd scum. Together with soap, the scum acts on delicate cloth fibers, weakening and thus shortening the lifespan of your clothes.
Hard water results in yellowing of white clothes, fading of colors, reducing fabric life, and increasing washing machine wear. It also results in using more detergent, additional rinses, and extra wash cycles to clean your laundry.
Other effects of hard water on laundry include:
- Fabrics feel harsh and stiff
- Weakened fabric fibers
- Fading color and yellowing, graying or dying of fabric
- Colored fabrics develop grey or white patches
- Hard water and kitchenware or bathroom fittings
Hard water reacts with soap to form a scum that affects sinks, kitchenware, bathroom fittings, tiles, etc.
Scales and film build-up on kitchen and bathroom fixtures, including tiles. Other effects include:
- Shortened water heater lifespan
- Blackening of expensive bathroom fittings
- Clogging of pipes and plumbing fixtures such as showerheads, leading to failure of water heaters, washing machines, and dishwashers.
- White film on dishes and glasses; noticeable even after cleaning
- Power wastage and increased energy bills
- Impairs the functioning of washing machines, dishwashers, and kettles
- Forms carbonic acid that corrodes pipes
Hard Water and Industrial Use
Hard water also affects industries negatively as follows:
- Wastes soap, minerals adhere to fabrics, impart colored spots on fabrics, and affects shades of colors on dyed clothes in the textile industry
- Affects sugar crystallization and results in deliquescent in the sugar industry
- Reacts with expensive dyes to form impure shades and spots on fabrics in the dyeing industry
- Reacts with materials and chemicals in the paper industry and affects the paper color
- Wastes soap and cause fabric discoloration in the laundry industry
- Reacts with drugs to produce undesirable results in the pharmaceutical industry
- Affects cement hydration, and hardened concrete strength
All these negatives are signs that your water is hard and requires softening.
Benefits of Hard Water
Despite all the disadvantages of hard water, it’s beneficial in the following ways:
- Strengthens teeth and bones when consumed because it’s rich in iron and calcium, minerals essential for teeth and bone development.
- It doesn’t cause lead poisoning if lead pipes are used as water inlets into homes because hard water can’t dissolve lead.
- Safer for drinking and tastes better than soft water
According to a study, hard water is safe for drinking and may have a positive impact on your health.
Water softeners help convert hard water into soft water to eliminate all the negative effects of using water rich in mineral content.
They use distillation, reserve osmosis, and ion exchange process to convert hard water into soft water.
If you’re tired of the effects of using hard water, you can buy the best water softener that’s made to meet your unique needs.
Forecast into the Water Softener Market
According to QY Research, the international water softeners market hit US$1,036 million in 2018. The figure is forecasted to reach US$1,464 million in the next 5 years.
During the forecast period from 2018 to 2015, the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.07%. Leaders in the global water softeners market analyzed in the research include:
- Whirlpool Corporation
- EcoWater Systems
- Harvey Water Softeners
- BWT AG
- Haier (GE)
- A.O. Smith
The companies put emphasis on creating innovative water softening technologies to reduce water pollution resulting from releasing residue into natural water bodies such as rivers and lakes.
As an example, EcoWater Systems is developing water softeners with the capability to adapt to water hardness. It aims at delivering a custom water softening solution.
Drivers of the Global Market for Water Softeners
Increasing awareness of the disadvantages of hard water in residential and commercial applications is driving the international water softener market.
The demand for water softeners is predicted to continue rising as many developing nations worldwide realize the need for soft water.
Moreover, increasing investments in water softener technology are expected to bring up lucrative opportunities in the worldwide market.
In previous years, more water softener kits were installed in the residential industry as urban households continue to grow.
It’s forecasted that the fast-paced growth of urbanization, water paucity, and increasing groundwater hardness will continue to drive water softeners to demand in the next decade.
Segmentation of the Global Market
The global market of water softeners is segmented into salt-free and salt-based water softener types. It’s also segmented into industrial, residential, and commercial segments based on application.
The residential market segment is expected to be the highest consumer of water softeners in the next five years. This has been attributed to an ever-growing consumer base. Commercial water softeners are also anticipated to gain traction.
Regional Forecast of the Global Water Softeners Market
The international water softeners market is segmented into the following regions:
- Asia Pacific
- North America
- Central and South America
- The Middle East
The Asia Pacific is expected to continue to grow in demand for water softeners within the forecast period. The drivers for water softeners demand in these regions include emerging economies of China and India. Moreover, growing awareness of water softeners and the benefits of soft water in everyday use will also drive regional market growth. Europe and North America are also anticipated to drive water softeners demand in the next decade.