APRIL 2011
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida
Guest Column


Dilip Patel


By definition, hard water is water that has high calcium and magnesium carbonates while soft water has relatively less mineral content. Hard water is not harmful to one’s health but can cause problems with industrial operations as well as in residential use, leaving stains on clothes and dishes while consuming a lot more soap or detergent necessary for cleaning purposes. Hard water can also form deposits know as scales that clog pipes and ultimately reduce flow through the pipes. Detergents used to contain phosphates to counteract the effects of hard water, however, phosphates have been banned since July 2010, because they promote plant and algal growth. So the added benefit of being able to use detergents with hard water is no longer available. Products such as “Leme Shine” have become popular because of the phosphate ban.

It is often desirable to soften hard water to alleviate the problems associated with hard water. There are two options to soften the water; remove the dissolved minerals with Reverse Osmosis (Khaas Baat, January 2011), or condition the water using a water softening system. Reverse Osmosis is relatively expensive if you consider doing this for your whole house. Water conditioning or softening involves replacing calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions because sodium ions don’t precipitate out in pipes or react with soap causing soap scum. Water softening involves running the water over a bed of ion exchange resins that swap the calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions present on the resin surface. Eventually, the resin will be filled with calcium and magnesium ions, at which time the resin is regenerated with brine solution containing lots of sodium ions that, replace the calcium and magnesium ions. This step is usually called the backwashing step, which removes the calcium and magnesium ions and the remaining brine solution and discharges it into the sewer. Usually, the backwashing and regeneration step is performed automatically by the use of a controller, which can be preset to perform this task depending on the volume of water use and hardness of the water. All you have to do is add salt (Sodium Chloride).

If you want to reduce mineral buildup in the water fixtures in your home and reduce stain on your porcelain surface and glassware, then certainly consider installing a water softener in your home. Cost of a good water softener can range from $600 to $3,000 installed depending on the type of application and quality of the system. Some brand names that have been around for a long time are Eco-water, Culligan, Rain Soft, GE, etc. Get your water tested for hardness and then get hold of a reputable water treatment company for a worry-free soft water supply in your home. One last note is that for individuals who are on a low-sodium diet, consult your physician before you start using softened water using a salt-regeneration system for drinking and cooking purposes. The sodium content of softened water can vary from 46 to 1,200 mg/l depending on how hard the water is to start with. For the rest of us, softened water is not a health problem.

Kiron Senapati, P.E., is an Environmental Consultant based in the Tampa Bay area, specializing in water and wastewater treatment and alternate energy. He may be reached at ksenapati@hotmail.com

Guest Column: Lifestyle



Driving home from work, crazy traffic and the phone rings … it’s child No. 1 “Mom! What are we eating for dinner? OK Fair. “Shak, rotli and mag since you had said you wanted potato shak yesterday.” “But mom you have not made tacos and you said over the weekend that you would make tacos.” “Yes beta but I planned for potato shak since that’s what you had asked for.” … Barely two minutes have passed and child No. 2 calls. “Hi mom! Where are you? Can you pick up some Microsoft points on the way? Just stop at Game Stop.” (Yeah … right! Do you get it boy! I am exhausted and you want me to stop at store … I am thinking in my head.) But I am the parent so I say “Sweetheart, I would have loved to but aren’t you hungry, maybe we can go after dinner.” Here comes the next question “So what are we having for dinner?” “Shak and rotli beta” … “Mom!!!! That’s not even real food. You don’t know how to make real food. Real food is a meat and two sides.” Walk in the house and here comes child No. 1 “Mom! I need shorts. Can we go after dinner and get it please?” “Sure princess” and off I go to change, fix dinner, do dishes, then run to the store to get whatever is needed. In the meantime, one child does not want to go with the other, there are arguments and disagreements and name calling that enables the house to be a home … Now we get it!! This is all part of being a normal family … We can handle it! I am ready for this everyday…

We walk in Target … My 12-year-old daughter asks, “Can I go to the mall with my friends?” She adds that Kimberly’s mom is going to drop them off and they were going to hang out.

Ahhh … the blood rushes to my brain struggling to find a way to answer. When did she grow and think she can go to the mall alone without adult supervision?

Mom: “Who all are going?”

Child: “My friends”

Mom: “Do I know them?”

Child: “Maybe”

Mom: “Can I meet them and their parents first?”

Child: “Why”

Mom: “Because I love you and you are my child so I have to make sure you are safe”

Child: “But that’s weird. No one does that and you already know Allison, Kim, Sofia, etc.”

Mom: “Why is it weird? And I have not had a chance to have a conversation with them”

Child: “Do I meet all your friends?”

Mom: “Yes, you know all my friends”

Child: “But I did not ask to meet them”

Mom: “But I am asking. I am the parent. I am just looking out for your safety”

Child: “I can take care of myself and I always make good choices”

Mom: “I trust you and I know you are careful but just cannot trust things nowadays.”

Child: “I can take care of myself.” AND Mom, all my friends have a bikini. Can you buy me one? … and it continues.

There are lots of parenting books on the library shelves or on “Kindle” … but we can all write our own books. Our children teach us to be a parent. Most of us don’t have any formal training on parenting. Each child is different and the level of maturity varies. Parenting styles are different and there is no one right over the other. Effective parenting happens when parent and children figure out a way where “IT WORKS.”

Preteens look for freedom and independence in an effort to create their own identity. It makes them feel responsible and accomplished. And as a parent, we need to recognize that although the children are trying to spread their wings, they need direction and support when they fall from the sky.

Strengthen your relationship with your children.

Deal with problems when they arise.

Help your young child become a responsible, caring adult.

Although there is not one “how to” manual … a few things seem to help.

Responding to your child appropriately, preventing risky behavior or problems before they arise, monitoring your child's environment, mentoring your child to support and encourage desired behaviors, modeling your own behavior to provide a consistent and positive patterns.

Remember, parents don’t get laid off from parenting … there is always enough work to be done.

Namrata Amin is a life coach and mother of two residing in Lutz.

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