Updated: December 2020
Calcium, also known as limescale, is an important mineral. It is essential for nutrition. And it’s important in industry — traded around the world. But it has a downside around your house. That ugly buildup on kitchen or bathroom faucets that looks white and chalky is a sign of an accumulation of calcium.
Understanding how it develops and how to get rid of it can help make it easier to remove this buildup and enable each faucet look better.
Differences Between Hard Water and Soft Water
Hard water and soft water are two terms related to the water used for drinking, cleaning, and bathing. The main difference between these two types of water is the concentration of specific minerals that each one possesses — particularly calcium and magnesium.
Hard water has a higher amount of them, which can be detrimental to skin, plumbing, clothing, and appliances. This is why buildup will start accumulating around faucets as there’s a high amount of calcium in the water.
What Causes Calcium Buildup on Faucets?
Water tends to accumulate on the outside of faucets until it evaporates. If you have hard water in faucet with a high amount of dissolved calcium, it will leave small traces of this mineral. You’ll likely notice small white stains accumulating on their fixtures. And stains can be appear on porcelain sink also.
Over time, the amount of calcium left will begin to increase, which causes ugly buildup. A yellow, rusty tinge to the buildup might also appear if there is iron in the water.
Removing Buildup Using a Store-Bought Solution
When limescale is accumulating around fixtures, store-bought solutions are available that can help remove it. Store-bought calcium removers are available in a few different consistencies, including scouring sticks, pastes, and liquids.
Generally, paste and liquids are the easiest to apply. Putting them on a faucet safely can be done using a pair of rubber gloves, following the manufacturer’s directions given on each separate product, and making sure not to breathe in any harsh chemicals that might be used.
If you are concerned about the ingredients or any fumes associated with liquids or paste, there is always the option to use a scouring stick. It’s made of pumice stone, which can scrape away the buildup that has been accumulated. Doing so helps avoid chemicals and odors.
Using More Natural Methods to Get Rid of Calcium Buildup
If you are looking for a more natural solution to get rid of the calcium buildup around your faucets, you may want to use white vinegar. It has a high acetic acid level, making it an ideal remover of alkaline chemicals like calcium.
This natural cleaner may already be sitting in your cupboard. And it’s easy to do.
Use a paper towel that has been soaked in white vinegar. Leaving the vinegar solution on the fixture for about an hour will help loosen up the buildup. After that period, a sponge can be used to clean the faucet with water. After soaking the faucet and removing the paper towels, it can be dried.
If the nozzle of the faucet is particularly bad, you can take more drastic measures. Fill a sandwich-sized plastic bag with white vinegar. Dip the faucet nozzle into the bag and secure the bag with rubber bands on the upper part of the nozzle. Leave this solution on the fixture for a couple of hours. Then clean as outlined above.
Dealing with calcium buildup is irritating if it has to be removed frequently. One way to avoid this is to soften your water.
Test Your Water
Start by testing your water. This can be done by conducting a DIY test or utilizing test strips.
The DIY method involves using a jar and lid with about 12 ounces of tap water in it. After adding ten drops of liquid soap to the water, it should be shaken vigorously for 30 seconds. If lots of bubbles appear at the top and clear tap water sits underneath, it means you have soft water.
If there aren’t any bubbles near the top and the water beneath is cloudy, repeat the process with 20 drops of liquid soap. If necessary, continue up to 40 drops. The number of drops indicates how hard your water is.
Hard water test strips can be purchased at grocery and hardware stores as well as online. They can be used to indicate if several minerals are present in the water. This type of test only takes a few seconds to determine the outcome.
Water Softeners Can Help Eliminate Hard Water Problems
If you know that you have hard water, you can prevent calcium buildup by installing a water softener. Water softeners are specifically used to combat high amounts of calcium and magnesium.
They work by utilizing ion-exchange resins and salts, which pull the minerals out of the water. These units protect a home from hard water and the calcium buildups they create but they require regular maintenance.
If other contaminants are present in the water, such as iron, a water filtration system can be used to eliminate them. Water filtration systems can also aid in eliminating chlorination, bacteria, and fluoride. This type of system is typically more expensive than a water softener but requires less maintenance.
Knowing how to identify hard water and calcium buildup around a faucet should help make it easier to care for these problems. Using the right techniques and tools can help make each fixture look better over the long-term.