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|Are your dishes spotted?|
Over the last few months, nearly everyone with a dishwasher has noticed that their dishes and glassware have been coming out more spotted and cloudy than before. The cause for this problem was recently discovered. On July 1st, 2010, all dishwasher detergent manufacturers voluntarily eliminated phosphates from their products in response to 16 states in the United States banning phosphates from dishwasher detergents.
Phosphates helped the cleaning process but were banned due to their negative effect on the environment. One of the ways the phosphates helped was to eliminate or reduce lime scale inside a dishwasher in hard water areas.
What is hard water? Hard water refers to the natural mineral content in water, comprised mostly of calcium, with some iron and manganese. Hardness is commonly measured in grains per gallon (gpg). Most detergent manufacturers say that any water with hardness greater than 10.5 gpg is considered very hard. In the City of Fort Scott our water has an average hardness of 12 gpg. Under typical conditions, the majority of these minerals will stay in solution. However, in the high heat of a dishwasher, boiling pot, coffee pot, etc. the minerals tend to come out of solution and deposit onto surfaces. The minerals are simply left behind as the water is evaporated. This is commonly called lime scale or hard water scale. This inconvenience is now more pronounced on our dishes because of the elimination of phosphates in the dishwasher detergents. The phosphates helps keep the minerals ‘bound up,’ or in solution, so that they are not easily deposited on dishes.
What can be done to help prevent this from occurring? In speaking with our local hardware stores, the owners appear to be very knowledgeable and helpful on this topic. The stores sell a dishwasher additive that will help remove the hard water scaling. Any product with a citric acid base seems to work well. Another practice that can help is turning off the heated drying cycle on your dishwasher and allowing the dishes to air dry. Another option, hand washing dishes, will eliminate the problem.
Your dishwasher is not causing the problem and the water provided by the City of Fort Scott continues to be not only safe, but of excellent aesthetic quality as well. The City is extremely thankful for our abundant access to such high quality water.
Please share this information with family and friends near and far to save them from unnecessarily purchasing new dishwashers. This problem is being experienced not only here in town, but nearly everywhere in states that has a water supply with hard water.
For any questions or for a tour of our Water Treatment Plant, please contact Michael Mix at 223-5160.