The Chemistry of Natural Water

Essay by wootwoot May 2004

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The purpose of this experiment is to explore the hardness of the water on campus. Hard water has been a

problem for hundreds of years. One of the earliest references to the hardness or softness of water is in

Hippocrates discourse on water quality in Fifth century B.C. Hard water causes many problems in both in

the household and in the industrial world. One of the largest problems with hard water is that it tends to

leave a residue when it evaporates. Aside from being aesthetically unpleasing to look at, the build up of

hard water residue can result in the clogging of valves, drains and piping. This build up is merely the

accumulation of the minerals dissolved in natural water and is commonly called scale.

Other than clogging plumbing, the build up of scale poses a large problem in the industrial world. Many

things that are heated are often cooled by water running thru piping.

The build up of scale in these pipes

can greatly reduce the amount of heat the cooling unit can draw away from the source it is trying to heat.

This poses a potentially dangerous situation. The build up of excess heat can do a lot of damage; boilers

can explode, containers can melt etc. On the flip side of the coin, a build up of scale on an object being

heated, a kettle for example, can greatly reduce the heat efficiency of the kettle. Because of this, it takes

much more energy to heat the kettle to the necessary temperature. In the industrial world, this could

amount to large sums of money being thrown into wasted heat.

In addition to clogging plumbing and reducing heating efficiency, the build up of hard water also

adversely affects the efficiency of many soaps and cleansers. The...