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Water Specialists, Inc
3820 Lucius McKelvey
Temple, TX 76504
254-773-5822

Water FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Practical Answers to Practical Questions about water

What is Hard water. What is “Hardness”?
What is soap scum? And what causes it?
Whats in my water? how to understand the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Consumer Confidence Report (CCR)
What are some of the effects of tap water on my cooking?
Whats the real difference between bottled water and tap water?
How much sodium does a water softener add to my water
Do "Salt-Free" Water Softeners Really Work?

What is Hard water. What is “Hardness”?
Hard water and hardness are layman's terms for the presence of dissolved Calcium and Magnesium in your water. As water slowly erodes rocks like limestone it picks them up and carries them into your home as dissolved ions. No one would have any problem with hardness if it just stayed dissolved, but it tends to easily re-solidify in your plumbing, in your water heater, and especially when exposed to detergents.
Water Quality Association: What is hard water

What is soap scum? And what causes it?
Everyone knows soap scum when they see it, and probably have a few good products specifically targeted to deal with it. But what is it? First, lets talk about how soap works.
Soap molecules are special, they find oils that water can't dissolve, stick to them, and allow the new soap-oil byproduct to be dissolved in water. Take a grease stain for example, you pour your soap in the washing machine, it dissolves in the water and looks for oils to bond with. Once it sticks to those oils it forms a water soluble by-product that gets rinsed away in the rinse cycle. Water alone can't do that, only soap.
Put soap together with hardness, though, and you've got soap scum. The problem is, when soap goes looking for those oils to bond with, it also finds the dissolved calcium and magnesium. When it binds with these instead of oils and dirts, it forms a solid that deposits wherever it can.
The problem with soap scum is actually two fold. One, you're soap is getting wasted bonding with hardness, and two, you've got all this soap scum that won't disappear in the rinse cycle. It stays in your clothes, on your skin, on your dishes, in your sink, etc.
About.com: Soap Scum
MadScience: How soap works

Whats in my water? how to understand the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Consumer Confidence Report (CCR)
The EPA is required by federal law to provide information to you about your municipal water supply. Every year around the first of July, the Consumer Confidence Report is released identifying the various contaminants the EPA has detected in your water.
Although seemingly bland and technical, the CCR provides useful information to understand where your water comes from and whats in it.
The report includes information on the source of your drinking water and the susceptibility of that source to contamination. It identifies the permitted levels of regulated contaminants along with the actual minimum, maximum, and average levels detected. Most importantly it calls attention to potential harmful contaminants such as lead, arsenic and coliform bacteria.
For more information, check out the EPAs website about the Consumer Confidence Report at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/ccr/

What are some of the effects of tap water on my cooking?
Tap water contains various impurities that can detract from the quality of your cooking. Chlorine is the biggest culprit, ruining delicate tastes, and skunking coffee and tea. Hardness can also effect taste in a negative way, forming deposits that were never included in your recipe.

Whats the real difference between bottled water and tap water?
As far as standards are concerned, bottled water is no more regulated than the water in your tap. Federal laws do not require the bottler to list any naturally occurring compounds on the product label, such as sulfates, sodium, or radon. Any naturally occurring or added ingredients cannot exceed the maximum levels permitted by the applicable FDA or state regulations.
There are several classes of bottled water including: Artesian Water, Fluoridated, Ground water, Mineral Water, Purified Water, Sparkling Water, Spring Water, Sterile Water and Well water. Ironically, only bottled water that is considered purified or distilled can lay claim to a higher quality standards than tap water. Just because it comes in a bottle does not guarantee higher standards.
NSF International, The Public Health and Safety Company: Types and Treatments of Bottled Water

How much sodium does a water softener add to my water
According to the Water Quality Association the ion exchange softening process adds sodium at the rate of about 8 mg/l for each grain of hardness removed per gallon of water. For example, if water has a hardness of 10 grains per gallon, it will contain about 80 mg/l of sodium per gallon.

Do "Salt-Free" Water Softeners Really Work?
“Salt-Free” water treatment equipment usually refers to the use of magnetism to “condition” water. This equipment does not remove “hardness” or “soften” water, but claims to physically change the size and shape of hardness elements in your water. After undergoing this temporary change, the elements are said to be less likely to scale. All the while, hardness elements such as calcium and magnesium are still present in your water. With a water softener these elements are actually removed, not just “conditioned”.
In my opinion, these devices “work” only through superstition and magic. Just like a crystal healer placing fake crystals on your “shakras”, these work only through the assurances of their salesman. There is no industry wide standard to measure their success, no scientific experiment proving their ability to effectively prevent scale, and simply put, if its too good to be true...
Ask the Water Doctor: Do "Salt-Free softeners Really work?
and check out this debunking of various magnetic devices
Chem 101: Magnetic Scams