Freshwater is a rare commodity in the world. Out of 70% of all the world’s water, only about 2.5% is freshwater. The rest has to be treated by scientific technology. But not every household in India has access to fully treated or purified water available directly off the tap. What flows through our faucets is hard water with varying levels of chemical content.
What is hard water? How to identify it?
Hard water is water that contains salts, high mineral content, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonates, sulfates, and other impurities. It has the following indicators that you may find commonly:
- Dry scum on utensils/glassware even after washing them
- Scaling on pipes, plumbing fixtures, the surface of the toilet, and faucets
- Dry and itchy skin
- Blurry spots on appliances and objects cleaned with hard water
Such water is not fit for consumption by humans without proper treatment as the residue can cause health problems like kidney problems, cardiovascular or neural diseases. Indian domestic water supply is notoriously famous for its hardness, it corrodes pipes, water heaters and needs extra detergents/cleaners to get things cleaned.
Due to the shortage of treated water in India, many housing societies have to hire services of water tankers that provide water directly from the borewell, the quality of which is questionable. The soap doesn’t lather well, and hair becomes brittle and dry. What should the residents do to resolve this problem?
How To Soften Hard Water
1. Industrial RO installation
One of the ways to ensure that all of the water that gets supplied remains harmless is to get a Reverse Osmosis water treatment plant which can drastically bring down the hardness of potable water. The term used to describe it scientifically is TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) which is the total amount of inorganic matter and minerals in the water. Studies suggest that the acceptable amounts of TDS in drinking water should be between 50-300 and anything above 500 is not fit for drinking. RO units have been known to reduce the number of TDS by 80% to 90% if the brand is BIS approved and reliable.
Housing societies can consider investing in one depending upon their society size and requirements. They can cost anywhere between Rs 20,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh.
2. Home remedies for hard water problem
Another safeguarding measure against hard water is to apply some tried and tested home remedies, although it may be stated that these are short-term solutions and need to be used again and again. You can boil hard water at home before drinking. When it comes to cleaning faucets, utensils, and appliances to ensure no spots remain, you could use some hot water mixed with all-natural/distilled white vinegar. Yet another hack is to use washing soda while doing your laundry. Some people also like to invest in a domestic water softener which is used for softening bathing and cleaning water. It could cost anywhere between Rs 1500 to Rs 10,000. An individual whole house water filtration system could cost up to Rs 20,000.
3. Water purifier
It’s imperative that a healthy household invests in a good water purifier for drinking water despite using any of the above measures.
Here’s what to look for when choosing a reliable water purifier
The three commonly used filtration technologies are RO, Ultraviolet filtration (UV), and Ultrafiltration. The first step to check the TDS levels of your housing society water supply in order to decide which one is the best for you. This can be done by buying a TDS meter online (Rs 150-Rs 4000).
After finding out the TDS levels, shortlist the water purifiers on the basis of the range of TDS mentioned on the specifications of the water purifier brand. If the brand doesn’t provide the type of purification technology and TDS recommendations, do not buy it, no matter how economical.
If the TDS level found in your water is above 500 ppm, you can choose an RO water purifier.
If it is below 200 ppm, you could go for a UV or a UF filter. To be doubly sure (or if the TDS levels are above 1000 ppm), you could also get a water purifier system that combines both technologies.
Keep in mind that RO systems consume a lot of electricity and pose a challenge of wasted water. It’s ideal if you explore systems that offer a water storage tank for sifted water that can be later used for cleaning purposes.
Last but not least, you could also consider a gravity-based water purifier that cleans drinking water equally well without needing electricity and is quite affordable but may not last as long as RO/UV systems and require more maintenance. As a rule of thumb, visit the brand’s website and check online reviews as well.
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