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Water question

I live in So. Maryland. I’m on city water. Somewhere around the house I have the numbers provided to me with my last water bill.

Funny enough, I’m not really asking this question as it relates to brewing. I’ve got a 15 month old son and we’ve been using cloth diapers. My wife mentioned she read somewhere that hard water will affect the absorbancy of the cloth diapers over time and we had a half ass discussion on whether or not we have ‘hard’ water.

I figured that most hard water problems were had by people that had their own individual wells, not people on city water, although our city water is drawn from a well too… Anyway, what should I be looking for to determine if we have hard water?

Also haven’t posted in awhile so what’s up to any that remember me. Been tough finding time to brew with a young one running around and usurping all my time.

According to my water utility, 85% of American homes have hard water. Search for your water utility online and see if they post their annual water quality report online. If not, call them and ask.

With respect to a water report, hardness includes calcium, magnesium, “hardness”, and total dissolved solids. Generally, if hardness is in the hundreds, you’ve got hard water. If it is below 50, you’ve got soft water. My city water here is hard – hardness is listed as 140. Ten miles away, it is very soft. This is because of the very different methods there are from city to city for treating the water. Softening water is expensive, so most places probably don’t do that.

FYI – calcium is a big contributor to hardness, but it’s not the only thing. My hardness is 140, but my calcium is only 36. Sometimes you’ll find water with calcium greater than 100. That would be very very hard water indeed if you see that.

If you can’t find a water report, you could carefully boil a quart of tap water in an old pot just until it goes 100% dry. A small amount of salt left behind is normal, even for soft water. But if you have quite a bit of salt, you might have hard water, maybe. I wouldn’t advise leaving an empty pot on the stove for more than a minute, so be careful if you decide to try this.

I don’t have kids and therefore no experience with cloth diapers, but are they simply run through the washing machine and dryer? Fabric softener can also get in to the fibers and effect the absorbancy.

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