hard water testing

Back in February, I wrote about hard water, and the revelation that my city's water supply doesn't have it.  I did take three water samples to the city for testing, and here are the results:

Cold Tap = 22 mg/l of Calcium and 32 mg/l of Hardness
Hot Tap = 20 mg/l of Calcium and 36 mg/l of Hardness
Hot Washer Softened = 4 mg/l of Calcium and 14 mg/l of Hardness

The interesting things to note here are that there is only a slight increase in hardness from my hot water heater (I was expecting a bigger difference) and - most interesting - the water softener appears to work pretty darn well, reducing the calcium by 80% and hardness by more than 60%.

But it also confirms that I have moderately soft water!  So the ammonia stink and related rash/burns A-Train is getting is caused by something else.

I got in touch with a friend who holds a PhD in chemistry.  He told me that since ammonia is a weak base, I could neutralize it with vinegar and it would rinse away as a harmless salt.  So, the next time I did diaper laundry, I did my normal wash routine and then added 2c. of distilled white vinegar to a hot soak.  I let the diapers soak in the vinegar overnight, rinsed them, and dried them as normal.  Two cups of vinegar is probably overkill, but I didn't want to have to do this twice!

The diapers were completely or nearly stink-free for probably two wears, and there was no rash!  But then one morning this week, A-Train started crying and saying his diaper hurt.  Sure enough, the ammonia stink is back with a vengeance and so is a painful rash!

baking soda and vinegar

I think it came back because of the way -and length of time - we are storing wet diapers.  A-Train probably uses a diaper 3 nights a week.  With 3 diapers a week, it's usually a week or longer before they get washed.  They're in a hanging wetbag, which doesn't allow much air to circulate.  As I learned about a year ago, warmth and little air circulation speeds up urea breakdown into ammonia.  I've just finished another vinegar soak, and I'm going to try washing more frequently to see if that will keep the ammonia away...

I have also emailed a chemistry professor to see if he might have any ideas of alternatives to vinegar that wouldn't void warranties or otherwise be so hard on PUL and elastic, or if he might have any other thoughts as to keeping the ammonia build-up away!

I'm determined to figure this out!

If you have ammonia stink and try vinegar to banish it, please let us know if it works for you!