It can feel very frustrating to scrub your shower or tub and still find rings lingering on the fixtures. These stains are not the result of dirt, and they are actually caused by your water supply; specifically hard water. So, here we’ll explore hard water and its resulting stains to help you understand how you can avoid them in your home.

The Hard Water Basics

Hard water is water that contains a higher amount of minerals, specifically magnesium and calcium. These deposits are picked up as water travels through rocks and soil on its way to underground aquifers or streams and rivers.

Water hardness is typically measured in terms of grains per gallon or GPG and it can vary according to the level of dissolved minerals.

  • Soft: Contains less than 1 GPG
  • Moderate Hard: Contains 1 to 7 GPG
  • Hard: Contains 7 to 10 GPG
  • Very Hard: Has over 10 GPG

Recognizing Hard Water Stains:

So, how do you know if the marks and stains on your fixtures, faucets and other areas of your home are due to hard water? There are a number of ways that you can recognize hard water stains.

  • Limescale: This is the most common and noticeable form of hard water stains. You may notice this flaky film around faucets, sinks, and drains. It can be particularly frustrating as they may appear to wipe away only to reappear later. Unfortunately, limescale can be particularly pervasive, as it can also accumulate in unseen areas, such as your pipes and inside water using appliances. It is particularly problematic in situations where heat and hard water mix, such as inside water heaters.
  • Soap Scum: One of the key features of hard water is its inability to mix with soap. The minerals in the water interact with the fatty acids in the soap, inhibiting lathering. It can also create soap scum, which is a filmy substance that can be off white or gray. You’re likely to find soap scum in sinks and showers or on your bathroom tile, but it can also find its way into drains and pipes. The aesthetics of soap scum is not its main problem, as it can encourage mold and mildew.

Tackling Hard Water Stains:

As the hard water evaporates, mineral residue is left on the surfaces, which causes a stain. Fortunately, these marks are not permanent and it is possible to remove them with some basic household products.

The simplest way to tackle hard water stains is using a white vinegar and water solution. Simply mix one part white vinegar and one part water in a spray bottle and you can use it straight from the bottle to clean the stains.

But, this will only address the surface issue and if you want to really tackle your hard water issues, you will need to consider a water softener or other water treatment system. These systems remove the calcium and magnesium from the water, so there are no mineral interactions and therefore no stains.

If you want to learn more about a home water softener system for your home, contact your local water treatment specialist today.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.