We often hear the terms of hard water and soft water and how high calcium levels can be a nuisance. Many advertisements also talk about the importance of water softening. Most of the time, our opinions are based on hearsay. Resultantly, we may not be completely aware of the what, why, and when of removing calcium from the water. Even with these answers, the burning question here is – how to remove calcium from water?
Before we address this matter, let us understand the basic idea behind calcium treatment.
Why remove calcium carbonate from water?
First things first. Why do we need to remove calcium carbonate from water at all? It is not news that water with superfluous concentrations of minerals can prove to be harmful. The damage is widespread, from your personal health to the condition of your utensils and clothes.
Healthwise, the effects of hard water are primarily seen on skin and hair. It is understandable as these body parts get directly exposed to water when you shower. Hard water can lead to dehydrated hair, hair fall, and even complete hair loss in extreme conditions. It can also make your skin’s texture very dull.
Internally, the minerals present in hard water are expected to be useful for your body. They can help you meet your daily requirements of essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium. However, people who have or tend to form kidney stones are advised to steer clear of consuming hard water. Thankfully, no other major harmful effects on internal organs have been confirmed by scientific studies.
Your clothes also suffer when washed in water with excessive calcium carbonate, as do your utensils. Metal-based utensils will begin to exhibit signs of corrosion and rust. All utensils can also consistently start showing white deposits due to excess salt. Similar effects will also be seen on the taps and other water sources in your household. In fact, even the taste of your food can be affected by hard water.
There are too many reasons to remove calcium carbonate from the water you drink and use for household tasks.
How do you know calcium from water needs to be removed?
Yes, we know now that calcium carbonate should be removed from the water. Still, there is no point going around and treating all water for calcium removal. We must understand when calcium needs to be removed. Be on a look-out for signs that tell you that your supply has hard water.
One of the most conspicuous signs is that you will see excessive salt deposits being left behind when water vaporizes. This could be seen on your utensils or even just your bathroom floor. You may also start seeing white deposits or lime scaling’ on your plumbing, such as taps. Your taps or utensils may also start rusting quickly. You may also start noticing one or more of the health-related issues that we described above. All these signs are warning you to think about removing calcium from the water in your daily supply.
How is hard water measured?
Measuring the hardness of water is not a trivial task, but there are various ways to do it. The most effective way is to use what is called a TDS meter. This device measures the amount of total dissolved solids’ or TDS in your water supply. It works by measuring the electrical conductivity of water. The higher the number of ions such as calcium and magnesium, the higher the hardness.
Gif source: aquasana.com
Alternatively, you can purchase hardness testing strips fairly inexpensively. Some DIY methods, such as soap testing, are also available to do a temporary analysis of hardness.
In the end, you want to know the concentration of calcium ions in your water. If it has a calcium concentration between 17 to 60 mg per liter, it will be called slightly hard. If the concentration exceeds 120 mg per liter, you are dealing with very hard water.
Hardness unit conversion
1 mmol/L 1 ppm, mg/L 1 dGH, °dH 1 gpg 1 °e, °Clark 1 °fH mmol/L 1 0.009991 0.1783 0.171 0.1424 0.09991 ppm, mg/L 100.1 1 17.85 17.12 14.25 10 dGH, °dH 5.608 0.05603 1 0.9591 0.7986 0.5603 gpg 5.847 0.05842 1.043 1 0.8327 0.5842 °e, °Clark 7.022 0.07016 1.252 1.201 1 0.7016 °fH 10.01 0.1 1.785 1.712 1.425 1
Understanding the Soft Water Process
Before discussing how to remove calcium from water, let us understand the mechanism behind converting hard water to soft water. Turning hard water to soft water requires that you remove the calcium and magnesium present in the water. So, any method that can help you get rid of these hardening ions will make it soft.
The method could involve a trade-off, where hardening ions are replaced by other ions. Or, it could be a simple removal without any addition. On the other hand, some treatment methods only make the hardening ions ineffective. In such cases, the salts are still present in the water, but they are unable to perform their regular actions.
The next section is meant to inform you about how to remove calcium from the water.
6 Methods to Remove Calcium from Water at Home
1. Boil Your Water
Perhaps the simplest answer to the question is to boil it. Once boiled for about ten minutes, let it cool down to room temperature. Water from the bottom layer of deposited minerals can then be taken out of the boiling pan and used as soft water.
However, this method only removes the carbonate, hydroxide, and bicarbonate salts of calcium from your water.
2. Use Washing Soda
You can also use washing soda, which in chemical terms, is sodium carbonate. In a way, washing soda disintegrates the mineral particles with calcium and magnesium in them.
The catch here is that you do not want your drinking water to have washing soda in it. Justifiably, you can only use this method to soften the water you use for laundry, dishwashing, or other household purposes.
3. Use Vinegar
Vinegar is naturally acidic and is used in a lot of food items as well. You can use it to soften hard water as it helps neutralize the alkaline salts that cause hardness. Only distilled white vinegar should be used in this method.
Still, be careful as you probably do not want your drinking water to taste like vinegar. Use this technique only for the water you use to do your laundry. Distilled white vinegar is effective when used on the white patches left behind by hard water on your clothes.
Another caveat here is that this approach should only be used for slightly hard water. Also, be careful with the kind of clothes you wash when using vinegar as it could bleach them.
4. Use Ion Exchange Filter
This is where things become more technologically advanced. Ion exchange filter. This is what you often see in the water purifiers you use at home. You can also just attach these small filters to your taps and faucets. The ions that give water its hardness – calcium and magnesium – are exchanged with sodium and potassium. The filters have resins or beads that strongly bind the highly positively charged calcium and magnesium ions in hard water.
While this makes the water soft, it also releases sodium or potassium ions in the water. If someone in your family is at risk of kidney disease, excess potassium could be harmful. Therefore, choose accordingly. You can also consider adding a reverse osmosis unit to remove sodium and potassium ions too.
5. Use a Water Softener
Water softeners are available commercially for daily use at your home. These are essentially mid-scale ion-exchange filtration devices. You can connect these water softeners to the taps that feed your washing machine or your dishwasher. You may also link them to your geysers, bathwater, and drinking water purifiers. Additionally, several salt-free water softeners are also sold in the market for household use. They simply make the hardening salts inactive, without actually removing them from the supply.
Do not fix water softeners in locations that cannot be accessed easily at a later time. This is because water softeners need to be replaced regularly as ion exchange filters might get damaged through regular use.
Find out more: Best Water Softeners – 10 options reviewed
6. Chemical Treatment
Chemical treatment is typically done in large-scale facilities like water treatment plants. Chemicals like calcium hydroxide, also called slaked lime or lime soda, are added to the hard water supply. This greatly increases the pH of water, causing the calcium and magnesium salts to precipitate and fall out of it. The sedimented precipitates are removed after filtration at an industrial scale.
You can also use this process at home. However, you must be very particular about removing the precipitated calcium and magnesium salts from the water. Employ a good filter to get rid of the sediments, and only then should you use it. In any case, do not use chemically treated water for drinking purposes. Water softened in this manner is best used to protect your plumbing and drainage from the harsh effects of hardness.
There are numerous reasons why you should remove calcium from the water. At the same time, there are several ways to tell you how to remove calcium from the water. Choose the one that best aligns with your purpose and get rid of all the problems associated with water hardness.
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