With more than 30 years’ experience in the residential and commercial water treatment industry, Mark Nelson is a Class 1 Drinking-Water Operator and a CBWA (Canadian Bottled Water Association) Certified Plant Operator. As founder and president of Nelson Water in Ottawa, Mark focuses on dealing with challenging water treatment system designs for problem water. He also heads the largest water bottling plant in the city of Ottawa with a delivery network throughout the Valley.


Is Water Quality Really a Problem in Canada?

 In today’s modern, industrialized 1st world, the simplest thing should be to turn on a tap or take a shower. There should be nothing hard about measuring out the detergent for your washing machine, however, in most areas of Canada, these simple tasks are hard due to the presence of hard water.

What is Hard Water?

You may have heard the term “hard water” and wondered whether this actually creates a water quality issue. In fact hard water can be a major problem for many households, especially in rural areas. When rain falls from the sky, it is “soft” and has no dissolved minerals in it, but as this water seeps and trickles through the ground it picks up dissolved minerals in earth’s crust. The presence of these minerals, especially magnesium and calcium means that the water turns hard. The level of hardness is determined by the quantities of these minerals. The higher the calcium or magnesium content level, the harder the water. Although you may not notice a difference in its appearance or taste, hard water can have detrimental effects on your skin, hair, clothing, appliances and plumbing.

What are the Effects of Hard Water?

Hard water can impact your life at home in several ways. You may notice that your skin or hair feels dry or that your clothing is not washing properly.  You may find a film on your dishes or plumbing fixtures. Hard water may be the cause all of these issues. The hardness of your water can affect how soaps and detergents foam and perform. This could result in using more soap, which can leave an even greater filmy residue on everything it comes into contact with, drying human skin or making hair feel limp.

In your kitchen, you may notice that your dishwasher does not clean your dishes properly, leaving a cloudy film on glassware. Your clothing may also be adversely impacted as the laundry detergent does not effectively clean your clothes and leaves them looking dingy.  Hard water does not just have an aesthetic effect around your home; the hardness of the water can also result in mineral residue building-up inside water heaters (over years leaving a “concrete like” umbrella stand block on the bottom), appliances and pipe work. This cannot only cause blockages, but could increase your utility bills as the heating element in your washing machine, water heater or dishwasher works harder to heat the water. This type of scale build-up can also reduce the lifespan of these appliances as it increases the wear and tear from regular use.

Fixing Hard Water

Although hard water can be a serious issue, it is not FATAL as it is possible to correct the problem with technology. A water test can be performed by a water treatment professional to determine the degree of hardness in your water. Once the hardness of the water is confirmed, a water softener can be used to remove these minerals. This can produce an immediate effect throughout your home. You should in fact notice almost instantly that soap or detergent lathers up more effectively, glassware is crystal clear right out of your dishwasher and laundry feels softer and actually brighter.

In time, you may also notice that you don’t need to purchase as much laundry detergent or soap as you used to. This means that you will notice that the issue has been corrected, and your appliances no longer risk the level of scale build-up or “concrete like” blockages compromising their lifespan or performance.