A water situation. Any ideas?

What the rich mineral base in the bedrock and the soil of Hastings County – a great thing in theory – is doing to our nice clean bathtub at the Manse in practice. Help!

The excellent and authoritative Heritage Atlas of Hastings County (I am the proud owner of a copy, a gift from Raymond; you can order your own copy here) says this:

“Hastings County abounds in minerals, especially in the northern parts above Highway 7. Bancroft is known as the mineral capital of Canada for the numbers of different minerals found in the area as a result of the collision and shifting of tectonic plates over billions of years.” (Longtime readers might recall my post about how Queensborough is right on the edge of the Canadian Shield that protrudes down from the north into Hastings County.)

The atlas goes on to list some of the minerals that have been mined in various parts of the county over the years: corundum, feldspar, fluorite, gold (“The first discovery of gold in Ontario was made in 1866 on the Richardson farm near Madoc. The find sparked a gold rush to the Madoc area and miners looking for gold combed much of the surrounding area. Gold was also found at Eldorado and Deloro”), granite, graphite, iron, marble, sand and gravel, sodalite, talc and uranium. There are also minerals that, while they exist elsewhere on the planet, were first discovered in Hastings County, among them Hastingsite (it “was discovered in Dungannon Township…, resembles glass and varies in colour from black to dark green. Although it was first named in Hastings County, it also occurs in Yukon Territory, New Jersey, New York, Colorado, Utah, Washington, Montana, India, Japan, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Ireland, France, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia and Ghana”) and Madocite (“shows up as minute metallic grains visible only in polished sections and was named after Madoc. It is also found in France, Kirgizia and Sweden.”)

Which leads to one pressing question: where the heck is Kirgizia?

Anyway, all of this is pretty interesting stuff, and the atlas tells you a lot more – including where the various mines for these minerals were, and in some cases still are.

However, since really it’s all about me, I have to tell you that the minerals under the ground north of Highway 7 in Hastings County are wreaking havoc with the appearance of my bathtub.

I suppose, given the orangey-red colour, it’s all about iron in the water. The colour shows up with startling intensity on the white porcelain of the otherwise pristine tub, the result solely of small and inevitable drips from the tap. The first time we returned to the Manse after a stay in which I’d scrubbed the bathroom down to within an inch of its (and my) life, I was horrified to find the stain. Then I remembered how my mum used to complain about the “hard” water from the Manse’s well, and how that water would cause trouble (mineral buildup and so on) with steam irons. That said, what I do not remember are stains on the sinks and tub. That seems to be something new.

The dug well that served the Manse back when I was growing up there is no longer in use, replaced by a deeper drilled well that provides potable water. (The water from the old well was not safe to drink, as I’ve recounted here, and we had to carry our drinking water from a pump that was up the road at the old schoolhouse. As I type those words, I realize that they make me sound like I must be 150 years old at least to have lived in such a primitive situation. While tonight, after a long and hard week at work, I feel rather close to 150, I assure you I’m not quite there yet.)

Is it possible that the water in the old well was, while “hard” with minerals, not quite as iron-filled as the water from the newer, deeper well? So that it at least didn’t stain things?

We are assured by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, or whoever it is that does the testing, that the water from our well, whatever colour it may be, is safe to drink.

But do those of you who may live in rural areas (and perhaps particularly in mineral-rich Hastings County) have any suggestions for dealing with this staining situation? Are filters or water softeners a good idea? Is there a way for me to keep my bathtub white?

Your suggestions are very welcome indeed.