The “slickness” felt after a soft water shower is just the “real” you! Hard water does not easily rinse off the residue from cleaning products. When bathing in softened water, the use of less soap is desirable. Use sufficient water to rinse the skin thoroughly and your skin will feel softer and much smoother than it did with hard water bathing.
Most of the chemical data that is reported for water is expressed as a concentration:
- One-Part-Per-Million can be thought of as one inch in 16 miles or one cent in $10,000.
- One-Part-Per-Billion can be thought of as one second of time in 32 years.
It is EXTREMELY MISLEADING to interpret these analogies to minimize the magnitude of the risks. Even miniscule amounts of certain contaminants can poison water.
Once in a while you get a glass of water, and it looks cloudy; maybe milky is a better term. After a few seconds it miraculously clears up! The cloudiness is due to tiny air bubbles in the water. Like any bubbles, the air rises to the top of the water and goes into the air, clearing up the water. The water in the pipes coming into your house might be under a bit of pressure, and gases (the air), which are dissolved in the pressurized water, will come out as the water flows into your glass, where is under normal atmospheric pressure.
There are two types of water problems:
- Primary problems
the dangerous sort of problem
- Aesthetic problems
things that affect the taste, look or smell of the water.
Strange as it may seem, you could have an aesthetic problem (such as iron or manganese) that will not pose an actual health risk.
For most people, consuming small amounts of nitrate is not harmful. Nitrate can cause health problems for infants, especially those six months of age and younger. Nitrate interferes with their blood’s ability to transport oxygen. This causes an oxygen deficiency, which results in a dangerous condition called methemoglobinemia, or “blue baby syndrome.” The most common symptom of nitrate poisoning is bluish skin coloring, especially around the eyes and mouth. Infants six months of age and younger and pregnant and nursing women should avoid consumption of water high in nitrate. Cattle, horses, sheep, and baby pigs, are also susceptible to nitrate poisoning.
Nitrate travels easily through the soil, carried by rain or irrigation water into groundwater supplies. Wells that tap groundwater may be affected. Shallow wells, wells in sandy soil, or wells that are improperly constructed or maintained are more likely to have nitrate contamination.
Common sources of nitrogen in the soil are fertilizers, livestock waste, and septic systems. Excess nitrate in the soil is most often found in rural and agricultural areas.
Nitrate is a naturally occurring compound that is formed in the soil when nitrogen and oxygen combine. Small amounts of nitrate are normal, but excess amounts can pollute supplies of groundwater.
Hydrogen sulfide gas is a naturally occurring contaminant, which gives water a disagreeable rotten egg odor or taste. This usually indicates the presence of some form of non-harmful mineral reducing bacteria in the well. Testing is very difficult because it is a gas and it comes out of solution very quickly. There are no known health effects; however hydrogen sulfide can also make the water somewhat corrosive.
This indicates that the water is corrosive and usually acidic. Acidic water can leach metals from pumps, piping and fixtures. If left alone without treatment it can cause leaks in copper pipes and fixtures. Acidity is measured on a scale of 0-14 with 7 being neutral, less than 7 is acidic and above 7 is basic.
Brown or black stains found in the dishwasher are usually from high levels of manganese. Manganese that is dissolved in water can stain when the level is above .05mg/l. The dishwasher is a perfect mechanism to oxidize it because it heats it, agitates it and mixes the water with air. Manganese can also stain clothes in the washing machine, due to the same reasons. If bleach is added staining is worse.
One of the most common water treatment problems found in well water is iron. Iron can be found in 3 different forms:
Ferrous iron (dissolved)
Although not visible it is the most common type of iron. Later when oxygen is mixed with ferrous iron it stains sinks, toilets and laundry especially when bleach is added. To reduce levels of ferrous iron, softening and or filtration is performed.
Ferric Iron (suspended)
Ferric iron or brown water iron is oxidized and forms particles. Normally these particles can be seen once settled down, the particles can be seen in a glass of water. Sometimes these particles are too small to be seen and very difficult to remove.
Iron bacteria is a general term given to iron that can leave a slimy growth or build up in toilet tanks and sometimes clogs filters, softeners and pipes. These bacteria are not harmful, but are considered a nuisance bacteria because of their difficulty in removing.
If sodium is a concern to you, your water quality improvement professional can explain the amount of sodium in softened water. This varies, depending on the hardness of the water supply. Any person on a sodium-restricted diet should follow the advice of his physician. All municipal water supplies contain some naturally occurring sodium. If the sodium-restricted diet is very strict, discuss the use of RO, or some other water quality improvement system to reduce the sodium to meet your requirements.
For the sake of comparison, one slice of white bread contains about 114 mg of sodium, and an eight ounce glass of milk contains 120 mg of sodium. If your water contains 10 grain per gallon (GPG), and if you consumed a total of one quart of softened water a day, your intake of additional sodium would be 75 mg – less than either a slice of bread or a glass of milk.
A water softener replaces the “hardness” minerals with sodium or potassium. The amounts of these elements added to the water are relatively insignificant in comparison to what is ingested from your food and should not pose a health problem.
Most often, water softeners are regenerated with salt and water. Regeneration is a process by which the softening materials inside the softener can be used over and over again. Once the regeneration is completed, the salt and water solution is flushed into the drain.
Water ‘hardness’ is caused by the minerals calcium and magnesium in ground and surface water. If either or both minerals are present in your drinking water in high concentrations, the water is considered ‘hard.’ These minerals come from sedimentary rock such as limestone that dissolves into our water. The result of hard water is difficulty making lather or suds for washing and a build-up of minerals on taps and on other fixtures. Water containing low concentrations of calcium or magnesium is called ‘soft’ water.
As water passes through the atmosphere in the form of rain, snow, sleet, hail, dew, or fog, it picks up impurities and gases. And, because water is the universal solvent, it picks up even more impurities as it travels through the earth as ground water. What ever the water comes in contact with it will dissolve a part of it.
Water hardness is demonstrated by scale in water heaters or on plumbing fixtures, by soap deposits on dishes and fabrics, and by soap scum in sinks and bathtubs.