Water is water. It’s water. Right? The water that we consume, water that we clean with and bathe with, can’t be all that much different from what others use, right?
You may be surprised to know that the answer to that is water can in fact be very different. Water is not just water. The truth of the matter is that we don’t really spend that much time pondering over the fundamental differences pertaining to the water that we use.
Though there may be a slight, mildly noticeable difference in feel or tastes, these differences may not be enough to make you wonder about not all water is the same.
For instance, did you know that there’s such a thing as hard water and soft water? These are two types of water that vastly differ in many aspects. How will you be able to identify which is which and know which one is in your household? We’re here to give you the deets on hard water vs. soft water.
What Determines Hard Water And Soft Water?
Now that you’ve come across “hard water” and “soft water,” two terms that are used to classify water, a very basic question may be on your mind: since water is, by its very nature, liquid, how does one determine hardness or softness of something that is in a liquid state?
And to add to that, which one will then be healthier or safer for consumption?
Water is typically clear – crystal clear. But still, it contains minerals as well as chemicals. The concentration level of certain minerals in the water is what determines its so-called “hardness.”
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Hard Water vs. Soft Water: Finding the Main Difference
Basically, here’s how it goes: The hardness of water can be determined primarily by looking at the amount of calcium and magnesium that it contains.
- Higher levels of calcium and magnesium, and other minerals, make the water hard.
- Water softening systems reduce the concentration of these minerals in the water.
- Soft water typically has higher concentrations of sodium, aka salt, rather than containing higher levels of calcium and magnesium.
As the water flows from the source towards your tap, it can gather many minuscule particles in its path. If the particles include calcium and magnesium, which are referred to as ‘water hardening’ minerals in higher amounts, then the water will turn hard. The more amounts of calcium and magnesium are present; thus, the higher the water will be on the water hardness scale.
Is Hard Water Harmful?
Hard water is not bad for you when you consume it, though you may notice some particularly strong flavors in your water depending on how hard it is. The fact of the matter is consuming hard water can even be healthy for you because you are already taking in essential minerals from your water source.
But although hard water may not harm you actively when you drink it, it can still cause some serious damage to your skin, your hair, and your home too.
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Some Bad Effects of Hard Water Include
As obvious hard water is harmful, we list its adverse effects on us.
1. Harming Your Hair and Drying Your Skin
As hard water comes into contact with the body, this can strip the naturally occurring oils as well as coat the hair and skin with mineral buildup. When you use hard water, you may end up not feeling cleaner at all, even after scrubbing and lathering with soap and shampoo.
Your hair may become noticeably limp and stiff — it may even begin to fall out more easily! Skin conditions may worsen if you are in direct and continuous contact with minerals found in hard water.
2. Leaving Spots And Residue
When hard water lands or falls on surfaces, it dries on dishes and collects on doors and showerheads, the evaporating water then leaves behind buildup that is scaly-looking. You may be able to spot it on the plates and silverware that you washed, which then have white spots or white film.
Where the water comes into contact, white streaks may be left behind. Note that the residue that hard water leaves behind is not just unsightly but can also be costly because you may wind up spending more money (and time!) cleaning it up.
3. Damaging Appliances And Pipes
Sediment buildup caused by hard water can lead to time-consuming and costly repair work. When your pipes and appliances come into contact with hard water, the minerals it contains can clog which will lead to the breakdown of valves and pipes.
Water-dependent appliances such as laundry machines and refrigerators may end up having shorter life spans because of hard water. The minerals in hard water are very harsh, and what is perceived as minuscule sediment can turn into major problems for you and your household.
Hard water may not be bad for you and may not harm you directly when you drink it. However, it can bring about some problems that need resource-intensive resolutions. Hard water can bring about additional difficulties — and costs! — into your home.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you? You may have ward water in your home. So what to do, what to do.
The solution is simple: Soft water.
We established already that hard water is classified as water with higher amounts of calcium and magnesium. Reversely, soft water is water that is free from these minerals. These harsh minerals that can cause damage to the home and the body are absent from soft water.
Soft water is very gentle, with magnesium and calcium stripped away via water softening systems.
What Can Soft Water Do?
While hard water can have some very damaging effects, soft water is found to do the opposite. Because it is very gentle, soft water can take better care of you and your home.
Some of The Effects of Soft Water Include
Here are the effects of soft water on us.
1. Preventing Scale Buildup in the Home
When the hard water minerals are stripped away from the point of entry into your house, your appliances and pipes will then have a longer lifespan. Sediment particles will be taken away before they come into contact with your water heater or dishwasher, or laundry machine, which keeps them free from buildup. This will help them to work better for a longer period of time.
2. Increasing The Effectiveness of Soap
Hard water may be the reason it is difficult for you to make good suds when washing your hands or when you are in the shower. Minerals that are in hard water have been found by experts to decrease the effectiveness of soap. And hard water ends up requiring more shampoo or soap in order to form a lather.
It’s also why you may then find yourself buying detergents or soap more frequently. Having a water softener system will ensure that your cleaning agents are doing their job in the most effective way possible while also reducing the need for additional cleaning that stains from hard water can cause.
3. Combating Dryness
When there is a drop in humidity levels or the weather becomes colder, soft water is able to help in reducing dry and uncomfortable skin conditions. Soap is more effective when paired with soft water. It’s understood that body wash and shampoo can also do their job better at keeping your hair and skin more moisturized and soft with each wash. Without hard water, you will not have to struggle with the buildup it can leave behind.
Water softeners counter the challenges and struggles that hard water brings to your body and your home. It then creates healthier environments and saves you time and resources on cleaning and repairs.
How to Identify If Your Water is Hard or Soft?
Generally, you won’t be able to tell if water is hard or soft just by looking at it. Sometimes, it’s the feel of your water and what that water does to items it comes into contact with that can help you identify if what you have is hard water or soft water.
Signs of Hard Water
The feeling of having a film on your hands after you wash: This is due to the soap having a reaction to calcium, which then forms soap scum. You may have to rinse your hands for a long if your water is hard.
Spots: You may spot, well, spots on items such as silverware and glasses as they come out of the dishwasher. They appear because they are calcium carbonate deposits.
Mineral stains: Mineral stains appear on clothes that come out of the wash when hard water is used. Clothing can wear out much sooner because of the harshness of this type of water.
Less water pressure in the home: Mineral deposits may form in your pipes at home, which is said to shrink the pipes’ interior diameter. This causes a reduction in water flow.
Signs of Soft Water
- A rich, healthy, easy lather when you wash your body and hands as well as when washing dishes and clothes.
- Cleaner clothes, with zero mineral staining and much less damage from wear and tear.
- Healthier and stronger water pressure in the home.
- A very mild taste of sodium in the drinking water, although in most cases this difference in taste is almost unnoticeable.
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Hard Water vs. Soft Water: The Drinking Factor
When it comes to drinking, here are the basics you should know:
- Most people can very safely consume hard water or soft water without side effects.
- Soft water does have higher sodium levels which can be a concern for some, but this can be managed by using a potassium-based water softener.
- If the soft water’s sodium is really a concern, you can opt to drink other water types or bottled water and use soft water for other purposes in the home like bathing, laundry, and dishwashing.
Hard water and soft water can both be consumed safely, with very minimal concerns for some people. Where the major concerns lie are in other uses in the household. Hard water can cause a lot of damage and lead to time-consuming and costly repairs, so in this regard, investing in a water softening system may be a practical choice.