Nowadays, due to the presence of minerals and other dissolved salts, most of the water used for drinking is subjected to purification. The presence of microbes and other germs also makes purification an essential process. There are many forms of purifiers available in the market. While some destroy bacterias and microbes, other purifiers especially removes dissolved salts and heavy metals from the water. People can purchase any type of purifier they want, including the purifier that can remove the salts and kill the microbes at the same time. Depending upon their requirement and their current water condition, people can purchase the purifier they want.
There are different types of water present, including river water, borewell water, hard water, seawater, and groundwater. All these water types have different qualities and composition. So, it is essential to understand the composition of water in the water type before purchasing a purifier. Now let us view in detail the type of purifiers that can be purchased for hard water.
What is hard water?
Before purchasing a purifier for hard water, it is essential to understand what hard water is. Hard water is nothing but water-filled with many minerals and dissolved salts that are not essential for the human body and may cause certain diseases when consumed for an extended period. Hard water is being formed when normal water is exposed to individual deposits of gypsum limestone and Chalk. These objects have high deposits of calcium, magnesium, and other forms of bicarbonates, including sulfates. Even though it is acceptable to drink these hard waters occasionally, it is not advisable to drink them for the long term. An increase in any of the substances like calcium and magnesium will result in various body disorders.
The presence of hard water can be easily identified when you use a soap, and there is an absence of foam while using it. The lesser the foam, the harder the water is. To overcome this problem, multiple water softening techniques are being used. Water hardening happens when water is exposed to Chemicals like calcium and magnesium. There are two types of hardening called temporary hardening and permanent hardening.
Temporary hardness is caused when the water contains dissolved Bicarbonate Chemicals like calcium bicarbonate and Magnesium Bicarbonate. This type of temporary hardness can be easily removed or reduced by boiling the water. Because when we boil water, these dissolved by carbonate chemicals are precipitated, and the water is made soft after cooling. Most of the river water and other sources of running water belong to this category.
Permanent hardening occurs when the water is exposed to Chemicals like calcium sulfate and calcium chloride. Sometimes magnesium sulfate and chloride will also cause permanent hardening of water. This type of permanent hard water when exposed to show peace solutions they form a white precipitate instead of a foam. A simple boiling technique cannot easily remove this type of permanent hardening. This type of permanent hard water, when consumed without any form of purification or just after boiling, will result in renal failure and liver damage. So it is essential to purify this hard water. These hard water also needs to be softened for industrial and other home-related usages as they may result in,
- Clogs in the plumbing system
- Boilers while heating these hard water result in precipitation resulting in the failure of the boiler coils and reducing the heating efficiency of the boilers in the process.
- They also cause the corrosion of the metals otherwise known as galvanic corrosion
Water softening is nothing but a technique used to remove minerals like calcium and magnesium from the water. This technique is commonly practiced for domestic purposes like drinking. Even though softening is not required for agricultural purposes, it will be essential when the water has extreme levels of calcium and magnesium that might spoil the soil’s richness and plant growth.
Some of the common softening techniques used under various circumstances include,
Even though you can use hard water for softening, the detergent you use for washing has the efficiency to neutralize the salts present in the water.
In the case of agriculture, hard water can be used for normal cultivations and sometimes the chemicals in the hard water can act as nutrition or mineral for the plants. But when the water contains extreme levels of calcium or magnesium, especially if it belongs to the category of permanent hardening, then the water should be softened. Sometimes continuous usage of hard water may result in the clogging of pipelines and the other PVC lines. They also can make the soil lose their nutritional value. Bit the softening technique used for agriculture should be continuously monitored. Only the excess salt should be removed from the water, and the water should maintain the nutritional values that are required for the plant growth.
Hard water is not entirely suitable for industrial applications because continuous usage of hard water may result in deposits of calcium and magnesium forming within the parts of the machine. Some parts like boilers tend to break down due to continuous usage of hard water and also reduce heat production at the end. So industrial applications must soften the water using various purifiers before passing them into the machinery.
Sometimes the hard water is also used for domestic applications like drinking bathing and washing. Even though it is safe to use the hard water for washing and bathing it is not safe for drinking, especially the permanent hardening water. The temporary hard water can be used for drinking after boiling, but purification using a purifier is essential for permanent hardening water. The purifier uses techniques like reverse osmosis and other water softening techniques.
TDS level of hard water
The TDS level of both hard water and soft water will be more or less similar. Because when we convert the hard water into soft water, the processing involves exchanging the calcium and magnesium ions present in the hard water with sodium. So, the amount of dissolved salt in the hard water and saltwater will remain the same as the salt is only exchanged and not removed. But some of the softening techniques like reverse osmosis can reduce the TDS level of the water along with water softening. Also, water cannot be categorized as hard water or soft water by measuring the TDS level of the water.
The pH level of water
pH level is the measurement of an acidic and basic level of water. While substances like drain cleaner have a high level of pH, the other substances like battery acid have low levels of pH. Usually, the pH level of hard water is more than 8.5 due to the presence of multiple numbers of dissolved chemicals. So when the hard water is converted into soft water, the pH level will automatically be lowered. All the softening techniques will lower the pH level of the water.
Water softening techniques
Water softening is a common technique used to remove calcium and magnesium in the water. This technique, in turn, reduces the wastage of soap, as the water does not merge with the calcium. This produces more lather as a result. As a result, the software formed will increase the lifetime of a plumbing system and boilers.
There are multiple techniques used to soften water, especially for domestic purposes. Some of the common water softening techniques used are,
Ion exchange resin method
Normal domestic purifiers use this technique of ion exchange resin technique. In this technique, the calcium and magnesium ions are exchanged with normal sodium ions. Here the calcium and magnesium ions present in the water are being exchanged with either sodium or potassium ions. These resins are available in the form of organic polymers. They are also available in the form of inorganic zeolites which is used widely in the detergent for washing. They absorb the sulfate and bicarbonate ions and release hydroxide or chloride ions depending upon the resin type used. During this process, the water is divided into soft and hard water. The hard water containing the calcium and magnesium is excreted from the purifier, while the water containing the normal value of minerals otherwise known as soft water is stored for consumption. This type of purification technique is available in most of the purifiers, but this technique does not remove or destroy the microbes. They also do not have the ability to remove toxins in the water. Hence the water should be tested for toxins before processing through the purifier and also the water should be boiled to destroy the microbes. They do not reduce the TDS level but reduce the ph level of the water. So other techniques need to be combined along with this technique to make it proper drinking water.
Lime softening technique
This technique is most commonly used in commercial processes. In this technique, the water is treated with Lime Solution, to remove calcium and magnesium present in the water. When treated with the lime solution, the calcium and magnesium get precipitated and removed through membranes. They can also be used to reduce the TDS level of the water and remove toxins like Arsene at the same time. They also can remove the microbes present in the water. Currently, they are combined with the membrane filtering techniques to process the wastewater and remove iron, manganese, radium, and arsenic present in the water. They are applied mostly for industrial treatment and other massive water softening treatments.
The chelators are used for chemical treatments for softening water, and then they are also used in shampoos and also as a preservative for the food. The most commonly used chelator is ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid or EDTA. But then there have been raised concerns about the use of EDTA in commercial products. Hence an alternative chelator like sodium phytate is being used for perfect usage. They cannot reduce the toxin level or TDS level of the water. Hence this technique is used in commercial products like shampoo and soaps rather than drinking water purification. They are also used in increasing the nutritional supplements and in therapy for removing toxins from the body. They also can remove the metals from the water.
The calcium and magnesium normally occur in the form of sulfates and chlorides like calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride. The water is treated with washing soda or sodium bicarbonate to remove the calcium and sulfates and convert the chloride and magnesium into their carbonate form. This carbonate form is later turned into a precipitate. This technique is widely used in industrial treatments, and they do reduce the TDS level of the water. They also cannot remove heavy metals like Arsene and other toxins in the water.
Distillation and rainwater
The distillation technique is a costly technique that is usually used only when necessary. This technique is not generally preferred due to the cost issues. During this technique, the water is boiled and vapourize. The vapour is then converted into the water again using condensation technique. When the water is boiled to its boiling point, it evaporates. The metals that contain a boiling point higher than water remain in the containers. Thus the water is distilled and purified, removing excess chemicals including carbonates and magnesium. Drinking large amounts of the excreted distilled water is fatal as it contains a large number of dissolved salts. This, in turn, will change the salt balance of the body, making it fatal. This technique also can destroy the microbes but they do not reduce the TDS level of the water.
In this reverse osmosis technique, the water is passed through a semi-permeable membrane under heavy pressure that creates an osmotic pressure which in turn will allow the water with hardened ions to separate while the soft and the water passes through the membranes. The membranes are available in the form of a filter which can be used in most of the purifiers that need to be changed from time to time. This technique also normalizes the TDS value of the water. But they cannot remove the microbes present in the water. Separate like ultraviolet radiations can be used for eliminating the microbes in the purifier along with reverse osmosis technique for correct purification. Most of the purifiers use the distillation and reverse osmosis technology for water purification.
Non- chemical techniques
There is also another set of the technique commonly followed in certain applications like electrical and magnetic techniques. Indus technique electric current is being passed into the water, which in turn separates the ions from the metals and not eradicating them. But this is not a confirmed technique because some believe this technique is useful when the others are not comfortable with this technique. This is a widely unproven technique and used for plant watering and other agricultural purposes claiming that they increase plant growth.
With the help of these water softening techniques, they are widely used for various forms of applications like industrial water treatment, agriculture, and domestic purposes. Sometimes two or more methods are also being combined for obtaining a perfect form of soft water. But in the case of agriculture, it should be noted that the water is not completely soft and making it devoid of any minerals or nutrients that the plant needs for continuous growth.
Health effects of consuming hard water
Consuming hard water may result in
- Diseases like eczema
- High levels of potassium in water may lead to cardiac arrest, especially for people with potassium problems.
- People who have high levels of sodium in their blood should drink only purified soft water because hard water has a high level of sodium which might lead to health complications like kidney failure.
- Soft water high also has a level of sodium. But recently researchers have conveyed that the sodium present in the soft water does not affect the sodium level of the body. So people who consume soft water should maintain their sodium levels with their other forms of food as the body requires nearly 2300 my per day.
Types of water purifiers used for hard water
RO filter – The RO filter or the reverse osmosis filter present in the purifier can be used to remove the unwanted calcium and magnesium and replace them with sodium ions. But the purifiers that remove the salts alone cannot remove the microbes. Hence they should be boiled again. This purifier does not reduce the TDS level of the water. These water purifiers are cheap, and they are easy to maintain. The cost is low, and they do not need electricity to run.
UV + RO – These types of purifiers are a combination of ultraviolet radiation and reverse osmosis. While the reverse osmosis technique removes the unwanted solves and Minerals, the ultraviolet radiation will kill the microbes. This type of water purifier mostly runs on electricity, and the filters need to be changed now and then.
UV+RO+UF – These types of water purifiers use the reverse osmosis technique to remove the calcium and magnesium present in the hard water. As a result, the hard water is converted into soft water by passing them through a membrane under pressure. This type of water purifier also has the ultraviolet radiation that is used to destroy the microbes and other germs, including viruses. The UF membrane, otherwise known as the ultrafilter membrane, is also useful in cleaning the water from pathogens and salts. The purifier that contains all these three filters can remove all the unwanted materials from the water and make it into safe drinking water. The purifier can also remove heavy metals and maintain the TDS and pH levels in the water. These purifiers run on electricity, and the filters need to be changed continuously. They are of high maintenance, and the purchase cost is a bit high compared to the others.
Testing of water
Testing of water is an essential technique that needs to be followed before using a purifier for cleaning them. Before purchasing a purifier test, your water levels for the number of TDS levels and pH levels present in the water. Along with that check for the availability of toxins and other types of dissolved salts present in the water. Depending upon the kind of water, you can purchase the water purifier that will suit your needs. Sometimes the water present in your area might not need toxic screening while water from another area will not require a reverse osmosis technique. So depending upon the type of water, make sure to purchase the purifier.
What not to do with these water purifiers
While the water purifiers are necessary to clean the drinking water before consuming them, it should also be taken into account, that too much cleaning will make the water useless for drinking. Setting the purifier for a high level of purification will result in plain water without any merely meaningless type of minerals. Test the water along with the TDS and pH levels and make sure that your water purifier normalizes the value of TDS and PH and not increase or decrease them. Also, the essential minerals should remain in the water and not be purified.
So, test your water and buy the best purifier that will suit your needs and will keep you safe. Drink pure water and stay healthy.
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