We use 130 liters of water every day. If you include the so-called virtual water in the bill, you get thirty times as much.
Parents can quickly become concerned and overprotective, especially with their first child. The fear of doing something wrong is great. In certain areas it is important to obtain extensive information and to adhere to certain “rules”. For other problems, it’s better to listen to your gut feeling. We answer the most important questions about the use of water in baby food. So that you know when to listen to your intuition and when it is better not to.
Can i use tap water?
Basically, this question can be answered with a clear yes. The tap water in Austria is principally of high quality and is more strictly controlled than mineral water. The controlled limit values are based on adults. If you are unsure whether the quality is also suitable for babies, you can easily ask the waterworks. This is a little more difficult with a domestic well. Here is a water test advisable, which is geared precisely to the needs of babies and toddlers.
However, the last few meters, i.e. the water pipes in the house, are decisive for the water quality. The water supplier cannot guarantee this. In some old houses these days there are still lead pipes, if the water comes out of them, it is definitely not suitable for baby food. Copper tubing can also be problematic. You should be careful here with new buildings, as relatively much copper is released into the water through the pipes in the first three years. In case of doubt, a water test saves you unpleasant surprises or lugging around with purchased water.
In principle, always let the water run off first. If it has been in the pipe for a long time, we speak of so-called stagnation water, which absorbs many substances from the pipe and sometimes also has a higher number of germs. Even if the tap has not been turned on for an hour, standing water is already unsuitable. Let it drain until it is evenly cool. Usually it takes between two and five liters. Whether tap water has to be boiled before use is controversial. Some doctors recommend boiling the water during the baby’s first six months of life. Others believe that it promotes allergies.
Our water at home is very hard. Will that harm my child?
Lime looks unsavory when it is in the kettle deposits. But don’t worry: the white coating consists of the minerals calcium and magnesium, which pose no danger to the human organism. In principle, they are even healthy. However, in the small amount in which they occur in our drinking water, this has hardly any effect on the human body.
However, the body of babies can sometimes not handle the minerals that well. Hard water can therefore lead to gas and constipation in sensitive children. When preparing bottles, some parents also have bad experiences with hard water. The milk powder does not dissolve well in it. This is why some parents soften their water. But be careful with filter jugs required: These germinate very quickly and can thus burden babies much more than the unfiltered water.
Should my baby drink water in addition to breast milk or a bottle?
Babies who are breastfed or who are given milk mixed with powder do not need additional fluids. As soon as complementary food is started, it makes sense to offer the child a drink. But don’t despair if he doesn’t want to drink at first. As long as you still feed it predominantly with milk, no further liquid is required. Only when the baby is given more porridge or complementary food than milk should it drink more.
Even in hot summers, no additional drinking is necessary at the beginning. If it is really very hot, simply offer the child the breast or the bottle more often. A bad idea is to dilute baby formula with water. The powder should always be mixed with water exactly as specified, as it is perfectly adapted to the needs of the baby. Sometimes there are still doubts as to whether the child is drinking enough fluids. If the diaper is wet three times a day, there is no reason for such doubt.
What should my child drink with complementary food?
The following applies to the first drinks in baby’s life: the more natural, the better. If your tap water is suitable for babies, it is perfect as a drink. When buying water, you should pay attention to the values for nitrate and sodium. Nitrate should contain a maximum of 10 milligrams per liter, sodium 20 milligrams. The values for sodium in particular are often far higher, as there are no limit values for this in mineral waters. Carbonated water is also unsuitable. The acid can cause flatulence or attack the enamel of the first few teeth.
Some parents like to use special baby teas as a drink. Here it is important to pay attention to natural ingredients and not to sweeten the tea. Some teas are more likely to be considered medicinal products due to their ingredients. It is best to ask your pediatrician which tea he recommends. Caffeinated drinks such as black tea or cola are definitely not suitable for the little ones. Lemonades are also taboo due to their sugar content and carbon dioxide. Fruit juices, on the other hand, are fine when diluted. But they should rather be an exception. If the child drinks sugary drinks from an early age, this can lead to tooth decay even before the first teeth break through.
There is no life without water. All living beings known to us consist to a large extent of it. Water ensures the exchange of cells with each other and thus ensures all vital processes. The element also plays an important role in the human body. Water is our “main component” – quantitatively the most important inorganic part of our body.
The proportion of water in the human body
We learn from childhood that we humans are largely made up of water. But how high is the percentage actually? The information on this in the literature varies widely. This is because the water content is related to several factors. The higher the body fat percentage, the less water there is in the body. Conversely, muscle mass consists of a lot of water – in competitive athletes the water content is therefore increased by around 5%. This means that the proportion of water in men is higher than in women, since the female body naturally consists of more fatty tissue. Age also plays a role. Over the years we increasingly dry out, leaving a toddler consists of far more water than an old person.
How much water is in the human body can only be roughly said. In the case of small children, the proportion is over 70%. A grown man is about 60% water, a woman about 50%. With increasing age, these values drop to below 50%. If you take a man weighing 80 kilos as an example, this consists of around 50 liters of water. That’s 50 kilograms, after all! In extreme situations, the body shows us how vital this water is. Anyone who loses 15% of their body weight in water dies. Our example man, who weighs 80 kilos, does not survive a loss of 12 liters of water.
What we need the water for
So water is essential for humans. It is a good solvent and means of transport and is therefore responsible for the exchange of substances. Like with blood. Probably the most important body fluid consists of 85 to 95% water. The brain is also similarly “liquid” – it has a water content of between 85 and 90%. About 80% of the kidneys, lungs and liver are built up by water. After all, three quarters of the heart and all muscles are made up of water.
The human body cannot store water. In order to maintain the vital functions, fluids must be consumed constantly. If the fluid balance in the body does not fit, this manifests itself, for example, in reduced ability to concentrate, headache and stomach ache and dizziness. Too little water increases the level of toxins in the body fluids. The body then takes some of the water from the blood. As a result, the blood becomes thicker and it becomes more strenuous for the heart to pump it through the body. The result is circulatory problems or, in the long term, serious illnesses such as kidney stones or thrombosis. Enough water prevents it from drying out.
Drink lots of water – but how much?
A lack of water occurs because the body constantly excretes fluids. For example through sweating or urine. If it is particularly hot in summer, if we do physical activity or if we eat very salty food, the need for fluids increases. Opinions are divided about how much should be drunk every day. A blanket value makes little sense anyway.
The human body needs about two to three liters of fluid during the day. We take in part of it through our food. The body can also supply itself to a small extent with water, namely as a “waste product” in some processes. Most of the water required, however, has to be taken up by drinks. Healthy people should drink at least one and a half to two liters of water daily. Another calculation method stipulates that 0.03 liters should be drunk per kilogram of body weight. For our example adult with 80 kilograms that would be 2.4 liters per day. Exercise, physical exertion and a lot of sweating increase this value.
Tap water is ideal for keeping our body hydrated. In Europe it is usually of the highest drinking water quality. However, many areas have to deal with hard water. Even if this is not harmful to health, many people simply do not taste that good, especially when preparing coffee or tea there are compromises in taste. Treatment of the tap water can help.
What our thirst tells us
Many find it difficult to adhere to “drinking rules”. Two liters a day is especially a lot when you are not thirsty and you have to force yourself to sip on the water glass. One often hears that it is already “too late” when the thirst announces itself. The body is already really drying out. However, the counter-argument to constant drinking also sounds plausible: Thirst is made to tell people when to drink. As is so often the case, the middle ground is the right one. In principle, it is by no means bad to listen to one’s feeling of thirst – what else would we have it for? However, if you only drink when you are really thirsty, you will not provide your body with enough fluids in the long run. However, if you move around a little and it is not particularly warm, the body may need less fluid than the drinking recommendation says.
But some people don’t really feel thirsty. These are mostly the chronically ill, old people and children. Older people often also need less fluid, so this is not necessarily a problem. If you feel concerned, you should clarify the right amount to drink with a doctor.
In some people, water intake through food is also very high. Those who like to nibble several pieces of watermelon as dessert are not particularly thirsty afterwards. If large amounts of fruit and vegetables that contain water are consumed, sometimes just one liter of water per day can be sufficient. It is encouraging for many that coffee that has been drunk can also be included in the frequent drink bill. Coffee does not remove as much water from the body as it has long been assumed.
The other end of the spectrum – too much water
Drinking large amounts of water when you are thirsty can also be harmful. That’s why it is sometimes really difficult. The brain then tries to curb the swallowing reflex. Under normal conditions, a little too much water has no negative consequences. The opposite of a water shortage is water poisoning. There are isolated cases in which marathon runners have died because they strictly adhered to the drinking rules. Too much drinking in such extreme situations can lower sodium levels to threatening levels. However, doctors see no such risks in recreational athletes. If the kidney is healthy and functioning normally, problems from too much water are unlikely.
Our skin is our largest organ. It regulates body temperature and defends us against bacteria and viruses. She comes with water every day in contact – when washing hands, showering and cleaning the apartment. Perhaps your skin has already seemed completely different to you on vacation. It may be tense, flaky, or red. Perhaps you have noticed improvements and have been able to do without moisturizers and the like. Why is that so? The answer lies in the hardness of the water.
What does hard water mean for personal hygiene?
Hard or chalky water has a high mineral content. The minerals calcium and magnesium are responsible for the hardness of the water are responsible. These additives are healthy to drink. If you have hard water at home, you will certainly be annoyed by calcified surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen. Lime not only looks unsavory, it can even seriously damage appliances such as coffee machines or irons. How calcareous the drinking water is different from place to place. Test in our water category learn how to find out water hardness.
Just as minerals are deposited in the kettle or on the bathroom tiles, they can also remain on the skin. Some people don’t even notice the difference between soft and hard water, others react very strongly to it. In general, problems are less common with soft water. Since it contains only a few minerals, it feels softer on the skin. In principle, however, hard water is not unhealthy.
Calcareous water and our skin: these problems exist
While every skin reacts differently, there are a few typical effects of hard water. If the skin is not used to the calcium, it is usually tight and itchy. You may have had such experiences while on vacation or after moving. Soap consumption also increases with hard water. The minerals in the water combine with the cleaning agents in the shower gel or shampoo and partially neutralize it. You can tell by the fact that it no longer foams as well. So we automatically need more to get skin and hair clean.
Our skin has a protective barrier. It has a moisturizing effect and is intended to prevent drying out. The minerals in hard water attack this barrier and cause many people to have dry skin problems. At the same time, the lime can be to blame for skin impurities. Minerals and product residues clog the pores, resulting in blackheads and pimples.
Study shows: lime promotes eczema
Children’s skin is particularly sensitive. A study by scientists at Nottingham University found that there is a direct link between calcium and eczema. Medical water softeners have been installed in the household of children with neurodermatitis. After a few weeks it could be observed that this significantly alleviated eczema. Medicines are not always necessary to alleviate skin diseases.
Other studies also come to the conclusion that atopic dermatitis occurs more often in regions with hard water. All you have to do is ask at the pharmacy. Far more eczema products are sold in areas with hard water. Researchers see a direct connection here.
Solutions against limescale – bring a feeling of wellness into your bathroom
If your skin feels as calcified as the walls of your shower look, a water softener is the only reliable solution. Such devices are available in a wide variety of designs. You can choose a softener that is only installed in the shower, or you can buy a system for the entire house.
Certain care products can also help. Special creams fight itching and dryness. If you have problems with acne or dry facial skin, cleansing water may help. They cleanse the skin sufficiently that you don’t have to put tap water on your skin. Alternatively, washing your face with filtered or distilled water may help. If problems occur mainly on vacation, it makes sense to wash your face with water from a bottle that is low in mineral content.
If you do decide to switch to softened or filtered water, you will notice some changes. The skin will sometimes feel a little “greasy” after washing. Don’t worry, this is normal and your skin will get really clean too. You only feel – probably for the first time – the natural skin barrier! To make sure that your skin problem is really related to the tap water, it is best to ask a doctor. Dermatologists can give you reliable tips for your personal situation.
As different as people are, so are hair and the right care. When choosing the right care product, one thing is often neglected: the water. Every tap water has a different composition. The water hardness, which indicates the lime content of the water, is primarily important for shampooing. Depending on the degree of hardness, there are a few “typical” reactions of the hair.
That makes hard water on your hair
Hard water contains a lot of dissolved calcium and magnesium. To drink it is superb. The dissolved minerals are important for the body and give the water a good taste. However, hair can become rough and brittle from hard water. Lime can also cause a dry mane. Colored hair often does not last as long if washed with hard water. Some don’t like lime because it makes the hair look dull, others love it because the hair becomes more voluminous and easier to style.
The degree of water hardness also affects the shampoo. Hard water partially neutralizes the washing performance. So you need a lot more care products than with soft water. The shampoo foams little or no foam, but it can easily be washed out of the hair. When styling you can usually confidently do without mousse and hairspray. With thin hair, hard water can be beneficial.
How soft water affects hair care
In contrast to hard water, soft water contains little calcium and magnesium. Some find the taste rather sour, but there are hardly any problems with cleaning or with calcified appliances. Soft water also makes the hair soft. This is definitely an advantage for thick, unruly hair.
The shampoo lathers well, a small amount is enough to get the hair clean. It becomes problematic when rinsing out. It has to be rinsed for a long time and thoroughly until care products are completely gone. This usually leaves residues of shampoo, conditioner and treatment in the hair and weighs it down.
After washing with soft water, the hair usually has less volume. Many feel that hair also becomes greasy faster. This is sometimes due to the product residues that could not be completely rinsed out. Products are usually needed again for styling: mousse and hairspray are only the basic equipment.
Remedy for hard water
On the one hand, you can help yourself with special anti-limescale shampoos that remove mineral residues. These are available in normal drugstores as well as in specialist shops at hairdressers.
Many also swear by a homemade conditioner. To do this, mix two tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice with one liter of normal tap water. Use vinegar and lemon juice rather carefully, otherwise the acid they contain will quickly dry out the scalp and hair.
Another option is to rinse your hair with boiled or filtered water. Some also buy bottled water. However, care should be taken to ensure that it is mineral water with as little calcium and magnesium as possible. Otherwise, the problem may get worse.
A more practical alternative is to install a water softener – so only soft water flows through your home. Purchasing such a device is a bit more expensive, but it pays for itself quickly. In addition to the hair, you will also thank the coffee maker and shower.
When the hair strikes in other places
Perhaps you have already noticed while on vacation that your hair reacts very differently to normal care. The decisive factor is the unusual hardness of the water. The bad news is that the hair usually does not adapt or only slightly to the new water hardness. Are you moving and know that you will find a different water hardness in the new location? Then you may have to change your hair care routine. Before you experiment for a long time and possibly strain your hair, it is better to ask the hairdresser. There you will receive professional help.
“Water must be suitable to be drunk or used without endangering human health.” This is what Paragraph three of the Austrian Drinking Water Ordinance says. In 2010, the United Nations anchored access to clean water as a human right. Water is our livelihood. As food It provides us with important minerals, but contaminated drinking water can cause diseases and is a major problem in some parts of the world. Caution should be exercised when dealing with our most important resource.
Legal requirements for drinking water
What drinking water is is defined in the Food Safety and Consumer Protection Act (LMSVG) and in the Drinking Water Ordinance (TWV). It must be clear, cool and tasteless and must not contain any pathogens that cause illness. The water that flows out of the tap in Austria meets these criteria. But this is not the case everywhere in Europe – in Spain, for example, tap water is not suitable for consumption in some areas. There are significant differences in the origin of the water. Because drinking water can be obtained in different ways.
Groundwater, surface water, rainwater or seawater is the basis for drinking water. Groundwater is mostly used in Austria. So that the quality of the water can be maintained, all supply systems must carry out an inspection at least once a year. The following parameters are tested:
- pH value (hydrogen ion concentration)
- Total hardness
- Carbonate hardness
The results of these checks must be communicated to the customers. The information can usually be found on the water bill, but often also in the local newspaper. The drinking water database is an alternative. Here you can inquire about the measured values for your community online. If limit values are exceeded, this must be communicated to the consumer anyway. Measured values are always only snapshots – if everything fits today with the measurement, it can look completely different tomorrow. You can also do a water test yourself between measurements by the community carry out. This provides a remedy for concerns about water quality. Of course, this also provides a snapshot, only regular checks can ensure the water quality in the long term.
Quality through the right preparation
If water is taken from bodies of water for drinking water use, it is called raw water. If this is not of the right quality, it must be processed. Some groundwater is filtered so well by mineral rock that it can be given to consumers in its pure form. Surface water, on the other hand, is always contaminated with microbes. It has to be processed and disinfected. So that the hygienic and health requirements of the Drinking Water Ordinance can be met, water usually has to be treated in some form. Most often, iron removal and manganese removal are used. Other common methods are:
- Slow / fast filtration
- Adsorption with activated carbon or powder carbon
- Dosing of corrosion inhibiting substances
- Membrane filtration
The biggest problems are therefore foreign substances that have to be filtered out, as well as an unsuitable pH value. The pH value is in equilibrium with the hardness-forming substances calcium and magnesium. At the same time, alkaline water with an increased pH value is hard, while acidic water is soft. Many problems can arise in connection with this. Soft water attacks pipes, dissolves pollutants from them and accelerates the formation of rust. Hard water, on the other hand, can clog pipes and lead to the well-known limescale deposits on fittings and household appliances.
Be careful with domestic wells
In Austria around 90 percent of the population get their water centrally from the water suppliers. However, every tenth household has a house well. Anyone who purchases a plot of land also owns the groundwater underneath – there are no other requirements for a house well. Just as the central suppliers have to constantly check their water, so do home well owners. The recommendation of the Ministry of Health is to have a water analysis carried out at regular intervals. The checks should be carried out annually and be carried out by a qualified testing agency. Even if the water has not changed visually or in terms of taste, it can be dangerous.
Tap water is more convincing than mineral water
For fear of germs and pollutants in tap water, more and more consumers are turning to bottled mineral water. But it is a mistake to believe that this is healthier. Tap water is better controlled than mineral water, it has to be checked for more foreign substances. Some pollution cannot be excluded with mineral water, especially not germs. Neither tap nor bottled water has to be germ-free, but according to the ordinance, neither must contain any pathogens that cause disease.
It is worrying that many mineral waters are sold in plastic bottles. It becomes particularly problematic with sparkling water. In a test by the Austrian magazine “Konsument”, an increased content of acetaldehyde was found in 21 out of 25 mineral waters. This substance has a “fruity-aromatic” taste and was put on the list of substances suspected of having a carcinogenic effect by the EU. Analyzes have also shown that mineral water often contains fewer minerals than ordinary tap water. Bottled water is first and foremost successful marketing. You could simply bottle and sell water from your home well, it would be in no way inferior to most mineral waters in terms of quality.
We all know them: the pictures of calcified heating rods from advertising. What looks unsavory in the first place also increases energy consumption and detergent costs. Calcareous water can also clog pipes. When faced with such problems, many think of water softeners. These are available in liquid form, as tabs or as a powder. Read here what limescale does in the washing machine and how well a water softener works.
How calcareous water affects washing
Before deciding for or against a water softener, it is important to understand what the limescale is doing in the washing machine. Lime comes from the tap water in your home. However, not all water is equally calcareous; a distinction is made between different degrees of water hardness. With hard water Far greater problems are to be expected than with soft water.
The lime affects the washing machine in two ways. Firstly, it is deposited on the heating rod, in pipes or in the washing drum. Lime is dissolved in the water in the form of calcium and magnesium. If water is heated, the lime precipitates and then settles on surfaces. It works the same way when the water evaporates. In any case, limescale deposits shorten the service life of the washing machine. The quality of the device and how often it is in use have the same effect. A second unpleasant effect unfolds with the detergent dosage. Hard water makes water solubility more difficult. This means that the limescale “neutralizes” the detergent and with hard water you will have to use a lot more of it to get the laundry clean.
Problems with the calcified heating element
If limescale is deposited on the heating element, this increases energy consumption. It works like the down jacket in winter. The lime or the jacket prevent heat from being transferred directly to the environment. If the calcified heating rod is heated up, it gets hotter itself, but the water only heats up slowly. This means that more energy is used to bring the washing machine to operating temperature. At some point, however, the heat will become too much for the heating element – it will break.
How long a heating element survives depends on several factors. This primarily includes the hardness of the water, but also how energy efficient the machine is and how often it is used. Do you live in a region with soft water, have high-quality equipment and wash twice a week? Then your machine will likely survive for a long time. To protect against calcification, special water softeners are advertised. Very few consumers know, however, that most heavy-duty detergents already contain such substances. However, they can only delay calcification. After a certain service life, the machine simply cannot withstand the lime.
Does a water softener for the washing machine pay off?
One thing is certain: from a certain degree of water hardness, your washing machine suffers with every wash. Even with moderately hard water, you have to increase the amount of detergent to achieve the same washing performance. If you rely on high-quality detergent, you are probably already working with a water softener. Alternatively, you can also use a softener for each wash and dose your detergent for soft water. It’s not cheap in either case. Some calculation examples can be found on the Internet. If you use a softener for every wash, you could pay for a washing machine repair for the same money after a few years.
But even if you use a softener, the inside of the washing machine calcifies. Lime stubbornly sticks to the heating element in particular, as it burns in from the heat. The heating rod is hidden inside the machine, so you cannot reach it for cleaning. Unlike in advertising, you can only delay decalcification with a softener, not prevent it completely.
Another option is to use a water softener. This is installed for the entire house or apartment and only allows soft water to flow through your own four walls. This significantly extends the service life of the washing machine. Less detergent is required and there is no need for water softening additives. But also here the lime settles after the time. A water softener is an expensive business, but by reducing the amount of detergent and softener additives you protect the environment.
A somewhat curious approach is the use of rainwater. Some specialist blogs recommend this. Rainwater would actually be perfect for washing clothes as it has almost a degree of hardness of zero. How practicable and hygienic this access is remains to be seen.
Drinking water Directly from the line is a matter of course in Austria. We use it for drinking, cooking and washing without really worrying about it. A water connection is mandatory in buildings with common rooms. In domestic agriculture and industry, too, water is an irreplaceable resource. It is obtained almost exclusively from groundwater and spring water, which is rare in international comparison. Many countries in Europe have to resort to the treatment of surface or even sea water.
Austria is a water-rich country. Domestic households do not even use one percent of the available water. Regardless of whether it is publicly or privately supplied, everyone can find their connection. The water supply network in our country could go around the equator almost twice – 77,300 kilometers supply Austria with drinking water.
Around 90 percent of the population get their water centrally from one of the 5,500 water supply companies. These companies must ensure that water is always available in sufficient quantities, with sufficient pressure and of perfect quality. They get the water from springs, for example, store it and distribute it to the consumers. The rest of the time they use water from their own well. In principle, the landowner has the right to use the groundwater. Of course, this involves a lot of effort, and the ongoing monitoring of water quality is particularly important.
Different ways of water supply for different needs
When building a house, sooner or later you will deal with the water supply. There are a few options depending on where you live. Information is available from the district administration or the magistrate. The water supply is part of the respective state legislation. So there are certain differences within Austria. In Lower Austria, for example, there is a compulsory connection to the public water supply, and certain criteria must be met for domestic wells.
Anyone who would like to connect their property to the water network should contact the municipality. If there is a public water pipe nearby, the connection can be requested. The regulations stipulate that, for a fee, the municipality provides the water supply up to the property line. The owner himself takes care of the line up to the house. The advantage is that in this case the costs can be clearly calculated. In very sparsely populated areas, however, the public water supply is sometimes expensive – long connection lines or pressure increase systems in higher areas increase the costs.
The alternative to this is a home well. Often there is already a well on the property, some even build one themselves. As a rule, wells are built where the public water pipe is too far away. The district administration or the magistrate can provide information on the legal regulations relating to well construction. In some cases, a permit under water law is necessary, for example if there is a separate apartment in the house and a third party is also supplied. By the way, a protected area can be applied for around the well or the spring. So the water quality can be preserved.
Another option is to use a domestic water well. The water can be used for watering flowers or washing cars, and it can also be used to flush toilets. The water quality does not have to be checked here. The water from the custom well must never come into contact with the drinking water pipe, there are no other requirements. Since the service water is usually used cold, no bacteria or germs can spread. Many also like to use rainwater for watering in the garden, which is collected in a barrel or cistern. There are also systems that make it possible to use rainwater for flushing toilets or washing machines. Rainwater has zero degrees of water hardness. With such an installation, limescale deposits can be avoided.
The water cooperative – it’s easier together
A remote settlement, dependent on its own house well, but the water quality has not been right for a long time. In such situations it makes sense to found a water cooperative. The aim of the cooperative is to create the central water supply for an area. It is organized together, the costs are shared. As a rule, there are good grants for such projects, the members tackle together and thus keep the individual costs low. Cooperatives are also ideal for projects such as water regulation or wastewater disposal.
Saving water does not relieve the supply systems
We usually become aware of the importance of cool water when it is missing. If, for example, no water flows out of our tap for a few hours because of important repairs, this is quite a limitation. Lately there have been increasing reports of water scarcity, forest fires and crop failures. Southern Europe in particular suffers in summer. However, saving water is not necessarily the right course of action. Car washing and full baths should only be avoided if the water supplier advises this. If not enough sewage flows through our pipes, they clog and start to stink. The only solution: to pump large amounts of drinking water through the pipes to clean them. The economy mode therefore leads to far greater water consumption. In nature, the raw material is in a cycle anyway. In contrast to resources such as oil or gas, the water on earth cannot be used up.
The Austrian water suppliers know how to deal with dry periods. The water supply is guaranteed even in particularly hot summers. Small, local failures could occur if the entire settlement decides at the same time to fill their swimming pools in the garden.
You iron your favorite dark blouse, and suddenly small, white spots appear on the fabric. To blame – the iron. Or more precisely, the lime that is deposited inside. Your favorite blouse usually ends up in the laundry again, and the iron has to be descaled.
Descaling agent or not?
There are basically three approaches to decalcifying the iron. Most of the more modern models have their own descaling function and do not require any additional agents. Other devices need a descaler. Many swear by vinegar as a tried and tested home remedy because it reliably dissolves the lime. Some manufacturers advise against it, however, as the acid it contains can attack components inside the iron. It is advisable to take a look at the instructions for use, as descaling with vinegar may void the guarantee.
Citric acid is a popular household remedy for descaling, but it is completely unsuitable for the iron. It combines with the lime due to heat and can clog the pipes from the inside. In the worst case, the iron ends up in the trash. If you use a chemical descaler from the drugstore, it should not be based on citric acid. Here, too, lumps that are difficult to dissolve can form. Apart from that, universal decalcifying agents from the trade reliably remove the deposits. However, to be on the safe side, take a look at the instructions for use. We strongly advise against using any decalcifying solution, especially for irons with a modern descaling function.
Regular descaling is gentle on the iron
White lime stains on the ironed laundry are the clearest sign that the appliance needs descaling. Even if it no longer steams properly, the lime can be to blame. However, it is better not to let it get that far. Some manufacturers recommend descaling after 15 ironing operations. But this is only a guideline. How quickly the device calcifies depends on the hardness of the water together. If you live in an area with hard water, the iron needs to be softened much more often than in areas with soft water. Deposits are also formed when using distilled water. Regular descaling also extends the service life of the iron here.
Modern devices usually have a descaling lamp. This reports when too much lime has already deposited.
Descale the steam iron – this is how it works
A normal iron without a descaling function can be descaled in a few simple steps. Allow at least 45 to 60 minutes for the process.
Iron with descaling function
Most common models today have a descaling function. You can find out exactly how this works in the instructions for use for the iron. In principle, however, the process is similar for all devices:
Descale the steam ironing station
Steam iron stations often contain a limescale collector or cartridge. Collectors just have to be removed and cleaned. Both a bath with a home remedy and a chemical descaler are suitable for this. Lime cartridges usually have to be replaced. Not sure how to descale your steam generator iron? The instructions for use will certainly provide information and can probably also be found online.
Ways to prevent lime scale
Every iron sooner or later calcifies. However, there are a few tricks that can be used to delay limescale deposits.
Softened or filtered water
Use a water softener in the household or a water filter, the tap water causes significantly fewer deposits in all devices. Some iron manufacturers also offer special filter jugs. These should produce an optimal ironing water.
Many use only distilled water for ironing. This is demineralized and therefore leads to less limescale deposits. However, some manufacturers advise against using distilled water, as it has a low pH value and can therefore attack the metallic sole of the iron.
This is usually distilled water with a laundry scent. In theory a good way to kill two birds with one stone. However, some manufacturers warn that the fragrances could be bad for the device.
Water from the dryer
Do you have a dryer that requires you to empty the condensation by hand? Perfect! This is good for ironing. On the one hand, it leads to less limescale deposits, on the other hand, it gives the laundry an additional smell. However, there is often lint residue in the dryer water. So that these cannot clog the iron, the water is filtered with a simple coffee filter. This water should expressly not be used in steam stations.
Humans have always been fascinated by water. Natural events such as floods or drought threaten human existence, at the same time there is no life without water. Water plays an important role in mythology and natural philosophy. More than three thousand years ago, the ancient Romans enjoyed their free time in thermal baths and built magnificent aqueducts. Aristotle counted water as one of the four primordial elements alongside fire, earth and air. And it is also the focus in religion. Water sources are venerated, in the Christian faith baptism marks the acceptance into the religious community, in the Hindu faith bathing in the river Ganges is an important ritual.
Water is the number one food
The earth is the blue planet. Water is the reason why life is possible at all. Around two thirds of our planet is covered by water, including the human body consists largely of it. But we can only drink a small proportion of the total water supply. Only three percent worldwide is fresh water, but almost two thirds of it is ice and snow. Only 0.3 percent of the world’s water supplies are considered drinking water available.
The average adult should drink about two liters of fresh water every day. Water scarcity is not an issue in Austria. Austrian households only use one percent of the theoretically available water in the country. Even if industry and agriculture are included in this calculation, consumption only makes up three percent. According to experts, Austria could supply almost half a billion people with drinking water with its water resources. That is almost the same as the population of the USA and Russia combined! From a global perspective, water is a scarce commodity. Two thirds of the world’s population suffer from water scarcity for at least one month a year, and half a billion people even all year round. Access to clean drinking water has been anchored in human rights since 2010. In some countries around the world, however, around half the population has no access to clean drinking water. Often there is simply not enough money to invest in an extensive water supply network.
Water is precious
The quality of our water is important. In order to preserve this important resource, we have to use it carefully. Since water is constantly in circulation, it absorbs many substances from the air and the soil. It’s like direct feedback from Mother Earth to us: If we don’t take care of our environment, we’ll pay the price with polluted drinking water. Ammonium, uranium or bacteria are signs of such pollution. Home well owners in particular should regularly do a water test check the quality of the cool wet. If you get your water from a public water supplier, this is in principle responsible for it. Carrying out a test yourself cannot hurt, however; some people also opt for a filter system or water softener. It is understandable that one would like to use this vital substance in the best possible way.
What we use our water for
Cooking, showering, watering flowers: we all use water every day without really thinking about it. Every Austrian uses around 130 liters of water every day. Water consumption has continuously decreased over the past decades. This is due to the increased environmental awareness of consumers, but also to advanced technologies. Modern devices try to save water as much as possible. The average water consumption is made up as follows:
While appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines are already very water-saving, work could still be done on the technology of shower or toilet flushing. In international comparison, we Austrians are quite economical with water. In our neighboring country Italy, around twice as much is consumed, in the metropolis of Dubai it is as much as 500 liters per person per day. That may also have something to do with our moderate climate. An international comparison of groundwater abstraction makes this clear.
Unique properties of water
Water is justifiably fascinating. No other material is on the one hand so self-evident and on the other hand poses so many puzzles. We know and appreciate water in all of its aggregate states. In liquid form, it ripples in rivers and streams, rests in large lakes or lays the sea in gentle waves. The sun makes it evaporate. Small droplets rise in the air, moisten it, form clouds or mist. If the water droplets become large enough, they fall back to earth as precipitation. Whether it is rain, hail or snow depends on the temperature. In its solid form, water covers the North and South Poles and, in winter, gives sugar to our houses, trees and streets. We find this water cycle exciting even in childhood.
Water is living space. We know numerous fish and other water dwellers that have adapted impressively to the most varied of conditions. In the deepest gorges of the seas, however, there are still unknown survivors who we cannot yet research with our current technologies. Water is an excellent means of transportation. In every respect: in the human body, blood and lymph consist almost exclusively of water and supply all cells with the substances they need for life. In nature, water can be the means of transport for pollen and thus pollinate flowers. But water also fulfills an important purpose in industry and tourism, as goods or passengers can be comfortably transported in this way.
The heaviest water is at four degrees Celsius. This is also the reason why a pond freezes over from top to bottom in winter – ice floats on the water. Both the melting point and the temperature required for evaporation are very high. No liquid has a higher surface tension. This means that water in textiles or plants can migrate from bottom to top against gravity. A chemical phenomenon is held responsible for these peculiarities – so-called hydrogen bonds. These are particularly strong bonds between small water particles.