Total Hardness

Published: | Updated: April 13, 2017

Definition - What does Total Hardness mean?

Total hardness is a measurement of the mineral content in a water sample that is irreversible by boiling. Therefore, total hardness can be equivalent to the total calcium and magnesium hardness.

Total hardness is determined by the multivalent cations' concentrations present in water. These cations have a positive charge that is higher than 1+. Typically, cations have a charge of 2+. The most common cations present in hard water are Mg2+ and Ca+.

Hard water is not seriously harmful to human health. However, water with a high level of hardness could cause serious problems in industrial settings wherein water hardness is typically monitored to prevent costly failures in components like cooling towers, boilers and other equipment that contains or processes water.

Corrosionpedia explains Total Hardness

Various measures and kits can be used to measure the magnesium and calcium present in the hard water. These two essential minerals are the main cause of water hardness.

To reduce the total hardness of water, certain processes such as water softening can help. With softening, the adverse effects of hard water can be reduced significantly.

High total hardness can result in abnormal cloudiness and the formation of scale. However, levels of hardness that are too low could make the water corrosive and more aggressive. Thus, industries that utilize equipment and machinery that handle water should ensure that the total hardness levels are maintained at appropriate levels to prevent the water from becoming corrosive.

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