On the 1st of July 2010, all Dishwasher Detergent manufactures voluntarily eliminated phosphates from their products in response to 16 states in the USA banning phosphates from dishwasher detergents. Phosphates helped the cleaning process but were banned due to their negative affect 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 our water, comprised mostly of calcium, with some iron and manganese. Hardness is commonly measured in grains per gallon (gpg). Most detergent manufactures say that any water with hardness greater than 10.5 gpg is considered very hard. Here in 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. Then 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 helped keep the minerals ‘bound up,’ or in solution, so that they were not as easily deposited on dishes.
What can be done to help prevent this inconvenience? There are multiple dishwater rinse aids that can be purchased. Most are citrus based. One can even use regular lemon juice as a rise aid!