You would think that hard water has a natural source or several examples, but the truth is, water is not created hard! This means there are no guaranteed examples of hard water.
Water that dissolves through rocks and soil could be an example of hard water, but there are no natural hard water sources. Groundwater is a typical example of hard water, but not all groundwater is hard. Any water city or ground can be hard water, and it is easy to determine the hardness level of any water.
This article will explore some common examples of hard waters, the problems they cause, and solutions to those issues. So, let’s get straight into it.
Read my comprehensive article about what hard water is.
Are There Any Examples of Hard Water?
Water is not created hard. Water can become hard from the journey it takes from its source to your taps. Here are a few cases and examples of when water can become hard:
Rainwater (Can be Hard)
Water that’s evaporated from oceans and precipitated back on soil is soft as rainwater or snow is made of soft water.
However, when the same rainwater comes in contact with soil and rock underground, the water absorbs excess calcium and magnesium from the rocks and soils surrounding it.
The water acts as a solvent, breaking apart chemical bonds and picking up mineral ions. These mineral ions then make the water hard. As time passes, the water tends to absorb more minerals and becomes harder.
The increased calcium in hard water comes from being dissolved in limestone, and increased magnesium comes from contact with dolomite.
Well Water (More Likely to be Hard)
Out of all, well water is more likely to be hard. This is because well water relies more on underground aquifers and has more contact with soil and rock than other water, so if there were to be an example of hard water, it could be well water, but even that is not always hard.
Lake Water & Reservoirs (Less Likely to be Hard)
Water found in lakes or reservoirs is less likely to be hard due to its limited interaction with the ground.
Therefore, even well water is not an accurate example of hard water; the prolonged exposure to minerals in the soil and rocks makes it hard and increases its hardness with time.
So, you have examples of soft water in nature, such as rainwater, but there are no such examples of hard water.
What Makes Water Hard?
Increased levels of calcium carbonates in your water make it hard. The most commonly found ions in hard water are water-soluble. When water is exposed to these ions for long times under the ground or sitting in wells, the ions saturate the solution and displace the minerals in the water.
There are two types of hard water, temporary and permanent.
Temporary hard water consists primarily of calcium and bicarbonates. After heating, the bicarbonate ion can break down and decompose, softening the water.
Permanent hard water has a high concentration of anions and is referred to as permanent as it cannot be softened simply by heating. This water can be softened using other means, such as softeners.
Permanent hard water is responsible for “soap scum” and the sheen on bathtubs after contact with water. The ions in permanent hard water react with soap to form insoluble compounds.
There are different levels of hardness in water. The general guidelines for water hardness are:
|Compounds per Liter||Classification|
|0 to 60 mg/L||Soft Water|
|61 to 120 mg/L||Moderately Hard Water|
|121 to 180 mg/L||Hard Water|
|More than 180 mg/L||Very Hard Water|
Am I Using Hard Water?
A common sign of hard water is a buildup of mineral deposits in pipelines and appliances. Over time, the minerals in hard water can cause a thick layer to build up in pipes and cause devices to damage or leak, shortening their life span.
Another example of hard water is the soap-film buildup on bathtubs or sinks. Hard water reacts with soap to form a cloudy residue that is difficult to clean.
This soap scum can also irritate the skin and make it difficult to rinse the soap from dishes and your skin.
Hard water can also cause discoloration in your clothes. Hard water can cause clothes or linens to become gray over time due to the presence of minerals.
Another sign of hard water is spotting on glasses and dishes. The buildup of mineral deposits can leave behind spots that are difficult to remove.
Hard water can also cause dryness in your skin and hair as the hardness in water causes them to strip your skin of its natural oils, leaving the skin irritated. This can lead to skin conditions and hair dryness, making them frizzy and difficult to manage.
If you are facing any or most of these issues with your water supply, it is possible that you are using hard water and can use a water testing kit to confirm your suspicions.
Q. Can I Soften Hard Water?
If the water you use in your home is hard, install a water softener. This device removes the calcium and magnesium in your water through ion exchange.
They soften all water flowing through your house and are the most effective method to soften water. If you do not want to install a system in your home, you can also use DIYs to limit the effect of the hard water on your appliances and skin.
Read my ultimate guide to water softeners.
Q. What Are the Benefits of Using Hard Water?
Hard water has essential minerals such as calcium that have no negative impact on your health. Soft water has an excess of sodium which may cause heart or circulatory issues.
When it comes to drinking, hard water has a better taste than soft water.
Hard water does not have any concrete examples, as hard water is created due to prolonged exposure to soil and rock.
Rainwater, ocean, and lake water are not hard water. Hard water is a common problem found in households and can be frustrating.
If you think you are using water, the source of the water does not determine its hardness; you can do proper or at-home tests to determine the hardness of the water you are using.