Our water in Pennington, NJ is loaded with calcium, so much so that at my house we have replaced multiple dishwashers due to clogging. All of my sinks and showers had a build up of calcium that was difficult to remove, but 20 years ago we installed a water softener system called Clear Water in hopes of alleviating the problem. Clumps of calcium immediately started coming out of our pipes (can you imagine?), but the dishwasher and clothes washing machines still weren’t efficient. The other alternative is to add a water softening system using large amounts of salts.
What’s the Big Deal with Calcium and Water?
While water is in the ground, it picks up soluble bits of whatever it passes through. While this can mean contamination that makes the water unfit to drink, in many cases it simply means that the water contains minerals found in the earth. Of these, calcium in water is of particular importance because it affects the water's ability to function in our homes. Calcium in water makes our water hard.
One effect of hard water is that soaps and detergents lose some effectiveness. Instead of dissolving completely, soap combines with the minerals to form a coagulated soap curd. Because less soap is dissolved, more is required. And the sticky insoluble curd hangs around-it clings to the skin and may actually inhibit cleansing. Washed hair seems dull and lifeless.
The Solution that Worked for Me
Now we add white vinegar to balance out the calcium and prevent buildups.
Why does vinegar work on calcium? The basic chemistry behind this relationship is that the two compounds neutralize each other and have that classic acid/base reaction you may recognize from an elementary school volcano experiment. The vinegar breaks down the calcium to clear any clogs easily.
I use vinegar now to combat the calcium buildup in our pipes and in our dish and clothing washers. I also use less than half of the recommended amount for detergents to avoid added artificial scents. I still use a teapot to heat water but it tends to get a calcium buildup, so straight vinegar does the trick of keeping it clean. The combination of a little detergent and vinegar keeps my clothes vibrant and my dishes clean. My shower head still has a lot of calcium build up on it. I’ve been meaning to take it down and let it soak in vinegar for a few days, but like most non-urgent matters have not. Besides a vinegar soak may be a lost cause and total replacement may be an easier solution at this point.
My advice: take advantage of the natural reaction of vinegar and calcium to see how it may improve your lifestyle. Using all natural, organic products like Edye’s Naturals will also help you live your happiest, healthiest life!