Understanding Hard Water

Hard water refers to a water source with a high concentration of minerals. Most city and municipal water suppliers have filtering and purification processes that remove many minerals from the water supply, but people who use well water often have hard water issues. They can add a water softener to their water supply to help minimize the effects of calcium, magnesium and iron.

Hard water deposits minerals on glass, porcelain, enamel, fiberglass, stainless steel and tiles, which in turn produces a cloudy layer of film. This film is called lime scale and is the result of calcium and magnesium. If you've ever tried to clean a shower door -- or even a drinking glass -- with hard water "spots," you know that it does not come off easily. These minerals bond to the surface and if they are not removed, they will actually become etched into the surface of the material and will become permanent. On top of white film, lime deposits make soap stains worse because they prevent the soap from breaking down correctly.

Other unsightly hard water deposits include brownish toilet rings, brown or black and blue or green stains near the water source or water line in the tub or sink. These are caused by iron, brass and copper in the water. If let go for too long, they also can become impossible to remove.

Here are some methods of removal: