Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Hard Water Experiment

Do you have hard water?

Really, really, really, really, really hard water?

How about stinky water?

I mean….does your water continually smell like rotten eggs? Not just after it hasn’t been used for a while? Is it stinky all the time?

We have extremely hard water and stinky water. Does it surprise you to say that we have our own private well? Even with all our water problems, we still bought this house. Even knowing what we know now about water, we probably still would have bought the house. Hey, at least we have water and a good flow rate compared to others around us. And at least we have clear water; some of our neighbors have black water.

Let’s take a look at our setup:

That's a lot of real estate in our garage taken up with water fixing stuff.

The softener came with the house. We installed the carbon filter and the Terminox. The Terminox is what we use to get rid of the hydrogen sulfide gas (ie…the stinky rotten egg smell). The carbon filter is a backup for the stinkiness.  I'm happy to report...they work!

We had many, many water experts out to our house when we first moved in. The first thing they told us was, “Don’t drink the water.” Not a problem. We never have. Not sure if we’ll ever be able to. One gave us a really expensive fix, which we can’t afford and one was honest enough to tell us that they couldn’t help us. We scared a couple others off with our numbers. (2500 mg/L total dissolved solids, 1200 mg/L sulfates, and lots of other high numbers. Our level of hydrogen sulfide gas was the highest one person had ever seen! Just so you know…500 mg/L total dissolved solids is the limit set for aesthetic reasons.)

Our machinery in the garage has been doing the trick, but it just doesn’t feel right. Consciously right, that is. We try out best to be environmentally conscious, but a softener running at full bore on either sodium or potassium is not environmentally friendly. That’s a lot of salty brine going out into the ground. Yuck! It’s no wonder a lot of communities are not allowing softeners in homes. I don’t blame them.

So we tried an experiment. We shut off the softener. Yep. Just to see what would happen. We even realize it could destroy our hot water heater fairly quickly.

Wanna know what happened?  (I should have taken pictures.  Oops.)

Our clothes (even with a cup of vinegar in and lots of detergent) felt like they had been sweated in and dried, even though they were “clean.”

After using the dishwasher twice, I abandoned it in favor of hand washing with a vinegar rinse.

I use to have to clean off a salt residue on the bathroom fixtures that wiped away pretty easily, but have found calcium deposits are tougher. We’ve been using lots of vinegar. LOTS!

We’ve always used “environmentally friendly” soaps (I like Seventh Generation), but they don’t cut it with hard water. No pun intended.

So we turned the softener back on for a couple of days up to the maximum, but have now lowered it considerably. Our salt supply will eventually run out and we’ll shut the softener off again. I’m dreading what my dishes will look like again. And what my clothes will feel like.  But the environment and water table can thank me.  Maybe.

In the meantime we’re researching “greener” options of softening our water. Or for cleaning with hard water.

Anyone else have water challenges? Any solutions out there that won’t break the bank? Any “miracle” fixes that actually work? Can water be fixed?

I feel for ya if you have really hard water.

I just remind myself….at least we have water. Thank God for that!

So go drink a glass of water and be thankful we live in a country where water is available to us.  Enjoy!  (Did you stick with me to the end of this?  Don't blame ya if you didn't!)

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