Despite regular cleaning and scrubbing, the unsightly accumulation of a white, scaley film around the bathroom faucets, sink and shower seem to have been ever-present in my home.
Feels like I have tried everything under the sun to remove it.
One day out of the blue (ha!) a thought occurred to me “What is this water doing to my skin and hair?” And my mind started to wander about what would happen long term if indeed this white scale was as stubborn as it seemed? “Can this be the cause of my overly wrinkly and eternally dry hands and face?”
According to the US Geological Survey, close to 90% of households in the US contain what we know as ‘Hard Water’. That is, water high in dissolved minerals; particularly calcium and magnesium. It tends to also have high alkalinity levels (high pH).
From what we know, hard water has no known health risks. But it is somewhat of a nuisance, mainly due to the build-up and scum it leaves on the appliances and surfaces in the home (see opening laments).
And over the long term, it can also lead to clogging in your plumbing. The residue can be left in your washing machine, and subsequently on your clothing.
We see the evidence of hard water in our homes because it is very difficult for detergents and cleaners to penetrate the calcified minerals within and then actually dissolve in the water.
But What Effect Can Hard Water Have on my Face and Hands?
To sum it up, basically, hard water is inefficient. For example, when we rinse off our hair shampoo, the suds of the shampoo are dissolved away. And due to the high levels of these minerals that hard water possesses, it is unable to absorb the products. Oftentimes, the material you are aiming to wash off is left behind on the hair and skin. This, in turn, can lead to your hair being left feeling un-rinsed and sticky, and your pores clogged. And in turn, to using more product as it appears that these products are not working.
Hard water can also result in:
-dry, itchy and even flaky skin
-causing hair to look dull and feel ‘sticky’
-exacerbating dermatitis in an individual – although is not a know direct cause of dermatitis
-the lowering of skin’s collagen levels
-weakening your skin and causing it to lose elasticity, leading to premature wrinkles and lines
-redness, acne and irritation
How Can I Soften My Household Water?
Thankfully there are many different systems and products available to counteract hard water’s effects and diminish mineral deposits in our household supply.
There are two main methods: Point of Use and Point of Entry.
Point of Use: as the name suggests, this method treats the water at the point of consumption. Typically this is a single fixture that is located under the kitchen sink or in our bathroom. It tends to be utilised in the kitchen to allow for high-quality water for drinking and cooking.
Point of Entry: this system will treat the water supply of your entire household, filtering it throughout for everyday use. This process will reduce the contaminants in your water for showering, brushing teeth, flushing the toilet, washing dishes and washing laundry.
Which Softening System is Right for My Home?
The sure-fire road to healthy, high-quality water can only begin with testing. So be sure to have your household supply tested. DIY kits are readily available these days.
Ultimately the choice is up to you the consumer, as to whether your household supply even requires softening. If your interests are more in line with the entire household, perhaps you should consider a Point of Entry system. Or if you are genuinely only concerned with your cooking and drinking water then perhaps a Point of Use system will be sufficient.
It is not entirely unheard of to install both systems in the one household. Why not go for the highest quality hydration source AND look after your precious skin as well? You’re worth it!
Until then I may be resorting to the old-fashioned bottled variety to wash my face with!!!
US Geological Survey
Water Research Council
Environmental Protection Agency
Trust Your Water
Featured image by Amritanshu Sikdar via Unsplash