Hard Water - Ms. Williamson`s Science Page

Double Replacement
The deposition of scale in boilers and kettles, the inab
ility to property wash
clothes in the presence of sufficient soap, the formation
of bathtub rings and
the inability to raise suds from soap are all caused by
the presence of the metal
ions of calcium and magnesium: Ca
+ and Mg
. It is these metal ions that
cause the “hardness of water. When soap is placed
in hard water a reaction
takes place which forms an insoluble scum.
Sources of the hardness are calcium carbonate, CaC
O3 (limestone) and
magnesium carbonate, MgCO3 (in dolomite along with
CaCO3) in the land over
Nhich surface water flows. Both calcium carbonat
e and magnesium
carbonate are insoluble in water. However, a solu
ble calcium or magnesium
compound is formed when there is carbon dioxide
dissolved in rain water. An
example of the reaction for calcium carbonate
CaCO3 + H20 +
Calcium carbonate
carbon dioxide
calcium hydrogen carbonate
The soluble calcium
hydrogen carbonate forms ions when it disso
+ + 2 HC03
calcium hydrogen carbonate
calcium ion
hydrogen carbonate ion
Due to the fact that calcium hydrogen carbonate
dissolves the compound can
be transported along with the water, The insoluble
calcium ions in calcium
carbonate would never move (or be dissolved in
water) except for the fact that
carbon dioxide and water together can react with
calcium carbonate.
An insoluble scum forms when soap, sodium stear
ate, NaCj7H35COO, reacts
with Ca(HCO3)2 in a double replacement reaction.
sodium stearate
catcum hydrogen carbonate
sodium hydrogen carbonate +
calcium stearate
stearate is a scum which precipitates and stick
s to bathtubs.
The compound Ca(H003)2 is easily decomposed,
even in solution. If the hard
water is boiled, or even heated (as in a hot wate
r tank) reaction (1) is reversed.
This releases the 002 and precipitates the CaC
O3 as scale. Due to this reaction
e call it temporary hardness. Any ternporari
hard water that has been
oiled will have lost its hardness because it has
lost the soluble Ca(HCO3)2.
The same reactions take place ith Mg(HCO)
reacton (1)
aCQ3 ard M5003 as the o iv cure of hardness
thnn s imole ea q f
mpo a hard water 0 ild et rid f tb arJns,
Natural waters also pick up calcium sulphate, CaSO4 and calci
um chlorIde,
CaCl2 which are both soluble and are not affected by heatIng. Both of
compounds react in a double replacement reaction similar to react
ion (3) to
form scum but heating will not rid the water of this hardness.
This is called
permanent hardness.
The difficulties with hard water (both types) have led to wate
r softening.
Water softeneis work by removing the Ca
2 and Mg
2 ions by a method called
ion exchange. There are two compounds (ion exchange resin
s) which are used for
trapping the Ca
’ and Mg
2 ions. They are sodium zeollte and sodium
sulphonated polystyrene. Zeollte and sulphonated poly
styrene are very
complex and we will use short forms to represent them: Ze
2 and Sp
respectively. Unlike most sodium compounds sodium zeoll
te and sodium
sulphonated polystyrene will not dissolve in water.
How does the softener work? The following Is an example.
In operation the
hard water Is passed through a column packed with sodi
um zeoilte. The
following double replacement reaction occurs.
Na2Ze + Cas04 4
Na2SO4 + CaZe
sodium zeolite + calcium sulphate
4 sodium sulphate
calcium zeolite
The Na2SO4 dissoives and flows out of the softener whil
e the CaZe is trapped
because It is Insoluble. The sodium Ions have been repla
ced by the calcium
Ions. An increased concentration of sodium Ions appe
ars in the water that
comes out of the water softener. Sodium ions do not
make water soft. (Recent
research has shown that haiti water 1 beneficial to health
and the availability of excess sodium Ions
can be harmM. it is not recommended that one drink —
Needless to say, a point is eventually reached when all
the softener have all been replaced by the calcium or of the sodium ions In
magnesium Ions so
that hard water will be unaffected. At this point, it is nece
ssary to recharge
the resin by stripping off the hardness ions. This Is done
by flushing the
softener tank with concentrated sodium chloride solu
tion, which is obtained
by directing a flow of water through the second tank
containing salt crystals.
The following double replacement reaction occurs.
CaZe + 2NaCl
CaCl + Na2Ze
alcium zeobte + sodium chloride 4 calcium chlorid
e + sodium
The calcium chloride is washed down the drain usua
lly at night when we dont
‘wed Hater for washing etc.
In recent years the use of soap
has decreased in favour of det
Detergents in contrast to soap
s do not fomi precipitates wit
h the ions of
calcium and magnesium. The ne
ed for totally softened water is
detergents caused an environm
lessened. But
ental problem because deter
worked best if
they contained ‘phosphates wh
ich encouraged the growth of
algae which can
lead to a destruction of aquatic
What ions cause the hardness
of water?
What compounds found in soi
l react to form compounds of
calcium and
magnesium which cause har
(a) Using reaction (1) as an exa
mple, write out the balanced
equation which shows magnesi
um carbonate turned into
magnesium hydrogen carbo
(b) This kind of reaction is cal
led a composition reaction
not a simple
composition reaction. Ple
ase explain why?
Write out the balanced chemi
cal equation for reaction (3)
(a) What is the chemical nam
e of a scum, which is named
in this article,
that forms when hard water
reacts with soap?
Knowing the ions which ma
ke water hard, state the nam
e of another
chemical which is also a bat
htub scum.
What method is effective [or
removing temporary hardness
from water?
What chemicals cause perma
nent hardness?
Using equation (4) as an exa
mple write out the balanc.ed
equation for the
teiction )f sodium zeolite
and calcium hydrogen ca
Using equation (5) as an exa
mple write nut the balanced
equation for the
reaction of sodium chloride
and calcium suiphonated
10 What chemicals are wash
lown the drain 3hen the
I ina