Hard Water Solutions
If you have hard water, you are probably in the market for some hard water solutions. Hard water might be good for your health, but it can smell awful, ruin your appliances, give you 'crunchy' hair, and increases your soap budget - allot!
Most people who have hard water want to get rid of it, even if just for the sake of their appliances alone.
Permanent Hard Water Solutions
The single most common permanent of hard water solutions is a water softener. Basically it is a big bucket that your water goes through, that is filled with salt. The salt works by bonding with the minerals so that they are not available to bond with other things, like your detergents and the walls of your appliances. This type of water softener is a simple technology that has been around for decades.
Unfortunately, a water softener also leaves your water tasting like salt. To avoid getting salt in your beverages (salty tea is not on my top-ten list), many people put a water filter on their kitchen taps. This adds a fair amount of expense, for the mechanism and the replacement filters, but if you can afford it - it is worth it. If you can't, get a Brita system with a big enough reservoir, or big water dispenser.
Water softeners are available through water treatment companies and/or hardware stores.
Ad hoc Hard Water Solutions
There are some interim hard water solutions that you can use if a water softener just isn't in the budget, or if you are living in rented accommodations:
1. Add baking soda to your washing water, dishwasher and your washing machine. That will help soften the water specifically in those appliances. You will have to experiment a bit to see what works best in your area, but I would start with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) in the dishwashing water, 2 tablespoons(30 ml) added to each dispenser in your dishwasher, 1/4 cup(60ml) for an front-loading machine, and 1/2 cup(125 ml) for a top-loading machine. Also, add 1/2 cup(125 ml) to your bath water.
2. Use white vinegar to help reduce any mineral build-up too:
Use it instead of fabric softener in the fabric softener dispenser of your wash machine.
Pour two cups into the bottom of you dishwasher once every couple of weeks and run it through the wash cycle. Then add another two cups in the rinse cycle.
Add 1/8 cup (30 ml) to a litre or two of warm water and use that to rinse your hair - it will help you avoid the crunchy hair that you get from hard water.
For your washing machine, even if you use baking soda with washing, I recommend you go to your local hardware store and ask for a product you can run through the wash machine every few weeks or months. They probably have something that is effective for whatever the local hard water problem is.
3. If the water smells bad or tastes bad, get a Brita system or the equivalent. It will also help maintain your kettle and coffee maker.
To clean your kettle, boil with white vinegar and let sit for 30 minutes. Boil it again. Pour it out, and repeat twice with clean water.
To clean the coffee maker. Run it through twice with white vinegar just as if you were making coffee, and then follow-up with two runs with fresh water each time to get rid of any vinegar residue.