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The Problem

Water: The Scale Build-up Dilemma

Water is one of the world’s best solvents. In fact, we refer to it as the "universal solvent." Given enough time it will dissolve any organic or inorganic material. It surrounds foreign particles, such as minerals, entrapping them in what scientists refer to as "complexes." That’s why water usually has a high mineral content. These dissolved minerals are not a part of the water itself. They are "captives" that the water has surrounded and is carrying along with it. The number of mineral complexes in water determines how "hard" the water is. The more minerals it carries, the harder it is considered to be.

When water is stored, heated or evaporates, the complexes it carries are broken up and the dissolved minerals are set free. These liberated minerals (most of which are calcium carbonate or magnesium) conglomerate in sediments that line the insides of pipes, appliances, water heaters and other surfaces with which the water comes in contact. Over time, more and more minerals build up on the sediment layer, causing it to grow progressively thicker. There is a name for these caked-on mineral deposits: scale. The limestone that forms the Swiss Alps and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is basically scale. Lime scale is a very hard substance, and removing it from plumbing fixtures and appliances is a difficult task.

Most of the water that is piped into homes and other buildings in North America and many other countries contains a significant amount of hardness minerals. This is both good and bad. It’ s good because the right amount of minerals has healthful benefits and makes the water taste better. It’s bad because some of these dissolved minerals are converted to scale when the water goes into a home or building and is stored , heated or evaporates. It’s a well known fact that letting hard lime scale build up in the plumbing fixtures and appliances in your home is like pouring money down the drain.