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Water Hardness FAQs

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There's no getting around it - the City of Gillette has hard water, and many people want to know "What is hard water? and "How can I treat my hard water?"  Here are some commonly asked questions about hard water:

Q: What is "hard" water?

A: "Hardness" in drinking water is caused by two nontoxic chemicals (usually called minerals), calcium and magnesium. If calcium and/or magnesium is present in your water in substantial amounts, the water is said to be hard because making a lather or suds for washing is hard to do.

Q: Should I install home treatment equipment?

A: This is a personal decision. This equipment is not needed to make the water meet federal, state, or provincial drinking water safety standards. In fact, if not properly maintained, the equipment may actually cause water quality problems. If you choose to do so, the setting on your water conditioner should be set for 25 grains of hardness.

Q: When I put ice cubes that I’ve made in my freezer into a glass of water, white stuff appears in the glass as the ice cubes melt. What is the white stuff and where does it come from?

A: Ice cubes freeze from the outside, so the center of the cube is the last to freeze. Ice is pure water, so as the ice cube freezes, all of the minerals, like the hardness minerals, are pushed to the center. Near the end of the freezing, there isn’t much water left in the center of the cube, so these minerals become very concentrated, and they form the "white stuff" - the technical name is precipitate. The hardness minerals that cause the white stuff are nontoxic. If you have a water softener on the cold water supply you will also see salt deposits from the soft water on your ice cubes. For best results, a water softener should be connected to the hot water supply only.

Q: What is that white stuff in my coffeepot and on my showerhead and glass shower door? How can I get rid of it?

A: Minerals dissolved in water tend to settle out when water is heated or are left behind when it evaporates. These minerals are white and accumulate in coffeepots and on showerheads and glass shower doors. To remove these minerals, fill the coffeepot with vinegar and let it sit overnight, or soak the showerhead overnight in a plastic bowl filled with vinegar. White spots on glass shower doors are difficult to remove with vinegar because the spots dissolve very slowly. A better idea is to prevent the spots from forming by wiping the glass door with a damp sponge or towel after each shower.