Hard water contains deposits called scale, which build-up on hot tub equipment causing premature failure and clogged plumbing if left unchecked. But, did you know that hard water can also be damaging to your skin? Learn how to perform a water hardness test to safeguard your hot tub, house and your skin here.
Hard Water vs. Soft Water
Many people ask, “What is hard water?” In layman’s terms, it is water that contains a high concentration of dissolved minerals, primarily calcium.
When hard water is heated, the minerals form “scale” and cling to pipes & other surfaces. This is what causes water marks on glass, a rust ring in the toilet bowl, and a scum line in your bath or hot tub.
Scale buildup also prevents efficient heat transfer, causing your water heater or hot tub heating element to have to use a lot more energy to heat the water. Soft water contains low amounts of minerals. It can be naturally occurring, or produced with water treatment devices that remove hardness elements, such as calcium and magnesium.
Effects of Hard Water on Skin
According to Virginia Tech, 85% of U.S. water is hard – meaning that it contains high levels of calcium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide, calcium sulfate, or other trace minerals. Though hard drinking water is generally not harmful to your health, bathing in it can cause some problems:
- Skin & Hair Dryness
- Dry hair
The high mineral content in hard water prevents it from reacting properly with soap. Instead of triggering lather, hard water creates a soap scum layer on the skin. This not only clogs pores, but also causes irritation.
Is Hard Water Causing your Acne?
After washing your face with hard water, impurities and minerals remain on your skin. When your face cream comes in contact with these impurities, they bond together and clog pores, causing acne. Research has found that calcium and magnesium tend to cause most hard water related breakouts.
Hard Water linked to Free Radicals
In severe cases, some elements in hard water can act as free radicals, even breaking down the collagen in healthy skin cells, allowing skin to be much more susceptible to sun damage. A common component of hard water, iron, is said to be one of the most detrimental elements. Iron deposits on skin get energized by the sun, which has been linked to some cases of skin cancer.
Hard Water & Eczema
Research has found a correlation between some skin disorders, like eczema, and hard water. “Minerals, such as calcium, that are found in high concentration may cause loss of moisture in the skin, which can lead to irritating conditions, such as eczema.” Says New York dermatologist Dr. Eric Schweiger.
Use Distilled Water
To help prevent the irritation and other effects of hard water, wash your face with distilled water. Note: Many bottled water brands have high mineral content (for better taste), use your water hardness test (Hardness Test Strips) to determine if your bottled water is suitable.
“Hard Water Hair”
Hard water causes hair to become dry and straw-like, creating a tangled mess and painful combing experience. Washing your hair in hard water, along with soaking or swimming in chlorine is a recipe for hair damage. To avoid this, try using a hard water shower head filter & pinning your hair up before entering the hot tub. A natural hair lotion will also help combat hair dryness and restore shine.
Household Cleaning with Hard Water
You may have noticed water spots on your cooking dishes and drinking glasses or even soap scum in your bathtub that you just can’t seem to get rid of. These are not signs of bad housekeeping; these are results of hard water!
How to Clean and Remove Hard Water Stains
Hard water makes cleaning even more of a chore because of its anti-social behavior with your cleaning products. Because of this, most people believe that they need to use synthetic detergents to get things clean. However, I have a simple, earth friendly and money saving solution to creating your own hard water stain remover:
- Fill an empty spray bottle half full of white vinegar.
- Fill the remainder with water.
- Spray vinegar solution onto your shower doors, tub, tile, and sink.
- Use a sponge or rag to wipe away scum on doors, or a nylon bristle brush to clean the toilet bowl.
If you need a little more cleaning oomph, you can mix white vinegar and baking soda to create a paste. Apply paste to surface, wait 15 minutes and scrub away, then rinse the area. Towel drying your cleaned surfaces is important if you don’t want to leave behind water marks. NOTE: Never use abrasives on acrylic. This will cause a scratched and dull surface appearance.
Cleaning Your Hot Tub & Acrylic Surfaces
Acrylic surfaces, like your hot tub shell, are susceptible to scratching and dulling if cleaned with abrasive tools or cleaners. A gentle cleaner like CleanAll and a soft sponge will remove hard water stains without causing damage.
Preventing Hard Water Scale
Hard water scale build-up is easily preventable with the use of a hose-end pre-filter, a device that attaches to the end of your house and filters the water prior to it entering your spa.
Do You Have Hard Water?
A water hardness test kit is the easiest way to determine if you should be concerned with hard water. Hardness Test Strips are easy to use, inexpensive and take seconds to return results.
Have a question about hard water? Post a comment below!