Hard Water vs. Soft Water
Do you know the difference between hard water and soft water? For many, this is a topic that they haven’t encountered before because they haven’t needed to.
In this guide, we will discuss the differences between hard water and soft water and some of the benefits and drawbacks of each. This will leave you better informed about how to navigate the type of water in your area.
What is Hard Water?
Hard water has a high concentration of mineral salts such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. This type of water is common in many parts of the world. In fact, according to the United States Geological Survey, 85% of American homes have hard water.
Hard water is not harmful to your health, but it can cause some problems with water heaters, appliances and pipes. Hard water leaves a scale or film on dishes, laundry, and fixtures. It can also reduce the life of appliances and cause plumbing problems.
What is Soft Water?
Soft water is a type of water that has been treated to remove minerals and metals. Soft water can be used for drinking, cooking, bathing, and other household tasks. Soft water leaves less soap scum and residue on dishes and skin compared to hard water. It also causes less build-up in pipes and appliances.
The biggest downside to soft water is that it can corrode metal pipes and fixtures over time. It’s also more expensive than hard water.
How Can You Tell if You Have Hard or Soft Water?
It’s not easy to tell just by looking at your water whether it is hard or soft. Some clues take time to appear. As a reminder, hard water contains high levels of minerals, while soft water contains low levels of minerals.
Signs of HARD water include:
Hard water leaves spots on dishes, glassware, and plumbing fixtures.
Soap scum is a thin white film that can be seen in sinks, bathtubs, and showers. The minerals found in hard water cause soap to react differently with the skin than it would with soft water. As a result, soap scum is created.
Hard water causes pipes to become clogged, which can lead to plumbing problems.
Hard water can cause mineral stains on sinks, bathtubs, and other plumbing fixtures.
If you’re experiencing any of these problems, it’s likely that you have hard water.
Signs of SOFT water include:
Healthy water pressure
If you have soft water, your water pressure will be strong.
No spots or soap scum
Soft water won’t leave any spots or soap scum on dishes, glassware, or plumbing fixtures.
No mineral stains
Soft water won’t cause any mineral stains on sinks, bathtubs, and other fixtures.
Slight sodium taste
Soft water contains a small amount of sodium, which can give the water a slightly salty taste.
What are the Benefits of Hard Water?
Hard water has many benefits, including:
It is less corrosive
Hard water is not as corrosive as soft water. This means that it won’t cause damage to pipes and fixtures over time.
Hard water is less expensive
Hard water costs significantly less than soft water.
It's naturally occurring
Hard water occurs naturally, so you don’t have to worry about chemicals or additives in your tap water. You can drink it straight from the tap without any concerns about safety or health risks.
High concentrations of magnesium and calcium
These minerals are essential for health and can help improve bone health, regulate blood pressure, and maintain a healthy heart.
Disadvantages of Hard Water
Hard water has some disadvantages, including:
What are the Benefits of Soft Water?
There are several benefits to using soft water. Here are some of the most notable:
Softer skin and hair
One of the most noticeable benefits of using soft water is that skin and hair feel softer. This is because the hard water minerals are not left on the surface of your skin or hair, which can make them feel dry and brittle.
Save money on soaps and detergents
Soft water works well with almost any type of soap and detergent, which means you save money by using less product and still getting cleaner clothes or dishes.
Easier to clean
Hard water can leave behind a film on dishes and surfaces, making them harder to clean. Soft water does not have this effect, making it easier to keep your home or office clean.
Reduce eczema symptoms
If you suffer from eczema, using soft water may help reduce your symptoms. This is because hard water minerals can aggravate eczema, while soft water does not.
Disadvantages of Soft Water
While there are a number of benefits to using soft water, it isn’t right for every household or business. Some of the disadvantages include:
What is Water Softening?
Water softening is the process of removing hard water minerals from your tap water. This can be done with a whole house treatment system or by installing a separate device for each outlet in your home or office that needs softened water.
Water softening units require a regular supply of salt or potassium in order to work properly. Therefore, if you have a water softener, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for adding salt or potassium so that your unit continues to function correctly.
Is Water Softening Safe?
Water softening is generally safe, but there are some cautions to be aware of. If you or someone in your household has a sodium-restricted diet, using softened water may not be right for you. This is because the process adds sodium back into the tap water to make it softer and more palatable.
If you have concerns about using softened water, talk to a doctor or other healthcare professional so they can help you determine if it is safe for your specific needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is hard water safe?
Hard water is generally considered safe and healthy to drink on an occasional basis. However, there are some cases where drinking hard water may not be ideal or advised by medical professionals.
What's the difference between hard and soft water when it comes to taking a bath?
Bathing in hard water can make your skin feel dry and itchy. This is because the high levels of calcium and magnesium in hard water can leave a sticky residue on your skin after you get out of the bathtub or shower. Soft water doesn’t have any minerals that could cause this problem, so it won’t dry out your skin. In fact, many people say their hair feels softer when they use soft water to shampoo it.
How do I know if I have hard or soft water?
You can get your water tested at a local laboratory, or you can buy a home test kit. If you have hard water, the test will show high levels of calcium and magnesium. If you have soft water, the test will show low levels of minerals or no minerals at all.