Water Is A Vital Nutrient Needed For The Survival Of All Species

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Water is a vital nutrient needed for the survival of all species. One quality of water that was observed in this lab is known as the “hardness” of water. Hardness is caused by the presence of polyvalent cations that dissolve in the water as it moves through soil and rock.1 The main minerals that give water a hard quality are Ca2+ and Mg2+ therefore, a sample containing a large concentration of calcium and magnesium is considered hard while a sample containing little or no calcium and magnesium is considered soft.3 Hard water is not harmful to the body but it proves to be a problem when dealing with daily household chores such as doing dishes, laundry, and even bathing. When combined with soap, hard water produces an insoluble precipitate, known as soap scum, that lessens the effectiveness of soap and requires more to remove.4 Hard water also interferes with industrial processes due to the formation of a precipitate known as scale. Scale tends to be found in pipes, boilers, and other devices used in industrial processes as it is formed when hard water is heated. This proves to be a major problem as the scale formation reduces the water flow, greatly decreases the heat transfer process, and eventually requires the metal in the devices to be replaced, which is a very expensive process. Therefore, many industries require the use of soft water to perform their everyday functions.2 The hardness of water can be measured in units of parts per million (ppm) or grains per gallon.
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