If you think hard water is a fancy way of saying ice, you’re not alone! In reality, hard water is actually a type of water that contains a high amount of calcium and magnesium salts (also called minerals) and has nothing to do with how cold it is! However, can you refer to ice as hard water?
Ice is not hard water. However, it may or may not be made from hard water – it all comes down to the water that you use. Due to minerals and air bubbles, ice cubes formed from hard water contain a cloudy look.
What’s even more confusing is that the ice cubes that contain minerals (made from hard water) are referred to as soft ice as they are brittle. As you guessed, those with no impurities are called hard ice due to greater density and hardness.
In this article, we’ll cover everything about it in detail. So, read on!
What Happens When Hard Water Freezes?
When hard water freezes, it turns into soft ice. Keep in mind that all ice is not hard water, but when you freeze hard water, you get ice that contains impurities or minerals inside.
These minerals contribute to the cloudy appearance of soft ice and make it less dense than crystal-clear ice.
The boundaries tend to get frozen first when hard water goes through a freezing process. So, the impurities (calcium and magnesium) start to build up in the center. Lastly, when these minerals become solidified – they give soft ice its whitish or cloudy look.
Depending on the mineral concentration, this whitish appearance can spread throughout the ice cube.
That’s not all! Minerals also play a role in the relatively low density and low hardness of soft ice. Since this type of ice can melt quicker than hard ice, they’re not recommended for commercial use.
This is why many restaurants, bars, ice cream shops, etc., core soft ice before use. Coring helps remove impurities, increasing the hardness of soft ice.
How Does Hard Water Influence Ice Machines?
Hard water is not only the culprit behind soft ice but also behind expensive ice machine repairs.
Hard water contains iron, which can cause corrosion and produce slime inside your ice machine’s hardware. Moreover, calcium and magnesium can join together, which can cause scale.
Scaling, or limescale, occurs due to dissolved minerals or salts in the water. These minerals stick to surfaces, such as your ice machine’s internal components, after the water has passed or evaporated.
Lastly, this mineral buildup produces a yellowish coating inside your machine, causing it to malfunction.
How to Prevent Scaling for Water Purification?
Scaling is every ice machine’s worst nightmare, but let’s not make your ice machine face the same problems.
Hard water can be purified by nullifying the dissolved minerals inside it, and you can do so by applying the following methods:
1. Phosphate Filters
Time for some chemistry! Phosphate filters perform efficiently in scaling prevention since they can form ionic bonds with calcium or magnesium.
So this stops the dissolved salts in hard water from bonding together and therefore preventing scaling.
2. Salt-Based Water Purifiers
Salt-based water purifiers use a mechanism known as ion exchange to reduce mineral concentration inside the water container.
Ion exchange promotes the replacement of minerals (calcium and magnesium) with a salt that carries a similar charge. For instance, ion exchange in hard water replaces calcium and magnesium with sodium–promoting scale prevention.
However, this method is far from perfect since people requiring low sodium concentration cannot benefit from this method.
3. Salt-Free Water Purifiers
Let me clarify that these purifiers don’t actually remove impurities from the water. Instead, they crystallize the minerals present.
Therefore, the minerals cannot stick to surfaces or the components of your ice machines. By doing so, your ice machine stays safe from scaling and other hard water-related issues.
Does Hard Water Affect Ice Cubes?
Yes. The presence of hard water inside ice cubes promotes a cloudy appearance and makes them less dense than crystal-clear ice.
Additionally, ice formed from hard water contains impurities or minerals that contribute towards melting more quickly. Due to these characteristics, this type of ice also has a specific name–soft ice.
What Is the Difference Between White Ice and Clear Ice?
White ice contains minerals or impurities, which is why it’s also called soft ice. Soft ice tends to melt more quickly than normal ice and has a lower density. However, clear ice is pure, which is why it has greater density and can last longer. Therefore, it’s also used for commercial purposes. Clear ice is also called hard ice.
What Is the Difference Between Hard Ice and Soft Ice?
Hard ice is completely pure, unlike soft ice. Due to this, hard ice has greater density and hardness. It also tends to last longer than soft ice. On the other hand, soft ice contains dissolved minerals and a cloudy appearance inside them. They’re also lower in density than hard ice and can relatively liquefy faster.
How Do You Fix Hard Water in an Ice Maker?
Hard water inside ice makers can cause damage due to scaling, corrosion, and other chemical processes. However, you can get rid of this issue by using the following:
- Phosphate Filters
- Salt-Free Water Purifiers
- Salt-Based Water Purifiers
Ice can be made either from soft or hard water. Typically, ice made from hard water carries a white, cloudy appearance due to the presence of salts.
These minerals promote lower density, lower hardness, and quicker ice melting. So, they’re not ideal for commercial use. Such type of ice is also known as soft ice.
Soft ice can also harm your ice makers by promoting scaling, corrosion, and slime buildup – due to the presence of dissolved salts.
However, you can use a few methods to ease yourself from future damage. These fixes include using phosphate filters, salt-free water purifiers, and salt-based water purifiers.