Hard water is an annoying and difficult problem. Even if you're not dealing with stains and mineral deposits, hard water, which has high levels of mineral elements, can make it difficult to soap up and can give drinking water an unpleasant taste. Though the best solution for hard water is to install a water softener at the source, there are times when this option isn't available, or when a little extra softening is needed for a small amount of water.
Boil water and allow it to cool. If your water is suffering from temporary hardness (presence of bicarbonite and calcium ions) rather than permanent hardness (presence of calcium and magnesium sulfates), simple boiling will cause the minerals in the water to precipitate and leave the water.
Add washing soda to soften larger amounts of water for household cleaning. Washing soda is similar to baking soda and is available where laundry supplies are sold.
Use borax to soften water. Borax, also found in laundry sections, is a good solution for laundry (or other cleaning) and will help clothes get brighter and cleaner while preventing many hard water discoloration problems.
Make soft water for baths with a mixture of water and baking soda. Add about 1/4 cup to a full tub for a bath, and make a concentrated bottled mixture of three tablespoons soda to four cups water. Use this mixture as a rinse at the end of your bath to help soap and shampoo residue rinse cleanly away from your skin and hair.
Create a filter to improve the taste of hard drinking water, or to remove iron from any water that you fear may cause discoloration. Sandwich a few tablespoons of fish tank filter charcoal (available in pet stores) between a couple of coffee filters and pour your water through this before drinking. This will remove many minerals, including iron.
Lauren Vork has been a writer for 20 years, writing both fiction and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in "The Lovelorn" online magazine and thecvstore.net. Vork holds a bachelor's degree in music performance from St. Olaf College.