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Solid bars of pure magnesium, one of the two main minerals responsible for hard water

Water can have all sorts of different chemicals and contaminants that cause illness and other issues.  

Here we take a look at Magnesium (Mg), one of the most common elements found in the water you drink, and one of the primary minerals that is tested for to determine water “hardness”.  

Magnesium is a naturally occurring chemical element.  It’s considered one of the lightest useable metals and is used for diverse tasks such as die-casting, flash photography, and in pop (or soda, if you’re one of those people) cans.  Magnesium is also flammable, making it a common and effective fire starter.  

Magnesium is so common, in fact, that about 25g of magnesium are found in your body.  Mg plays an essential role in muscle contraction, protein construction and DNA replication before being excreted by your kidneys.  You probably consume it every day in your breakfast cereal, and you are recommended to intake approximately 300-400mg of Mg daily depending on your age and gender.  

Not surprisingly, Magnesium is also present in hard water.  Many minerals, including dolomite, magnesite, and brucite contain magnesium.  When these minerals (or as we call them when they are fairly large, rocks) are present in water, then water acts as a solvent and picks up Mg solutes.  Additionally, residue and waste from chemical industries, beer breweries, and fertilizers contain Magnesium which can find its way into your drinking water.  Water softeners are designed to combat this problem by removing hard minerals like Mg and Calcium (Ca).

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The obvious question is: If Magnesium is a necessary part of your daily diet, what’s the big deal?  The answer is that Magnesium’s ill effects are not found in your body, they’re found ON your body, on your dishes, and in your plumbing. 

Hard water minerals combine with soap, creating an unwelcome soap curd that can leave your skin irritated and your washed clothes rough and uncomfortable.  Limescale deposits, caused by Mg and Ca, build up on the heating elements of your water heater, your dishwasher, and your washing machine, diminishing their efficiency and their lifespan. 

How do you know if you have hard water?  Well, the effects mentioned above can be telltale signs that your softener is no longer as effective as it should be.  Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because your softener is still using salt, it’s still providing soft water.  If you have any questions or would like to have your water checked, feel free to contact the Water Doctors team.

In closing, while Magnesium is a perfectly normal part of a healthy diet, there are much wiser, more cost effective methods to get your daily intake than in your drinking water.