What is a water hardener? (with photos)

People on very low sodium diets should drink hard water instead of soft water, which contains sodium.

Water hardness is defined by the amount of calcium and magnesium compounds dissolved in a water supply. Water hardness measurements range from soft to very hard, and the hardness of a water supply can have repercussions for the end user, depending on how the water is being used. More commonly, people have problems with hard water, which leaves deposits on utensils, clogs pipes, causes soapy suds, requires more soap or detergent to clean objects, and can have a peculiar taste. Soft water, however, can also be harmful, most commonly by corroding the tiles around pools.

Decreased water availability is a common effect of hard water in pipes.

For some applications, it is necessary for the water to be hardened by introducing a water hardener. This is more common in the case of swimming pools and aquariums. Aquarists often use the compost to meet the specific needs of the fish they are raising. A water hardener is a heavy mixture of calcium that can be added to water to increase its overall hardness. It is important to be careful when using this compound, particularly in swimming pools, as excessive use will make the water very hard, leading to calcium buildup.

Water hardness measurements range from soft to very hard.

A water hardener usually comes in the form of a powder, which can be measured to increase the hardness level of the water. At first, the compound may float on the surface or settle to the bottom in the form of gravel, but as the water circulates, the hardener dissolves in the water, raising the overall hardness level of the water. Depending on how many gallons of water are being adjusted, it can take up to a day for the water hardness to stabilize.

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Hard water can taste peculiar to some people.

In the case of aquarists, two types of hardness are significant: general hardness (GH) and carbonate hardness (KH). Most consumers can use full hardness, which is a combination of the two. Overall hardness measures the calcium and magnesium ions in the water, and while it is not the direct cause of pH imbalances, generally water with a higher GH has more alkalinity. An incorrect level of GH can lead to difficulties with fish, from reproduction difficulties to inadequate nutrient absorption, and a hardener can be added to increase GH.

Hard water may require more detergent to clean objects.

Carbonate hardness specifically refers to the levels of carbonate and bicarbonate ions in the water. Carbonate hardness affects pH by binding to free hydrogen atoms created by biological reactions. Normally, nitrogen levels in fish tanks increase as fish excrete. This nitrogen breaks down into hydrogen and salts, which increase the pH of the aquarium over time. However, the bicarbonate bonds with hydrogen to keep the pH stable until the bicarbonate ions are depleted, at which point a specialized aquarium water hardener must be added to lower the pH again.

It is often necessary to have a water hardener in swimming pools.

In the case of fish farming, care should be taken when adding a water hardener as different levels of GH and KH are required. In rare cases, a single water hardener can be safely added. Most of the time, though, careful chemical adjustments are needed to keep the water healthy for the fish that live in it. This can be seen in any commercial aquarium, where water hardness levels must be constantly adjusted and different species kept separate in the water to maximize their health.

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