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Have you ever questioned the importance of softening your water? Do you even know the difference between soft and hard water? Did you know that one is more dangerous than the other?
In this short article, we hope to answer all the questions you may have on this topic. So you can rest assured that once we’re finished here, you’ll know the difference between the two!
How can you tell if you have hard or soft water?
To find out whether or not your water is hard and soft, you’ll need to first look at the mineral content dissolved within the water, as a water’s mineral content is what ultimately makes up whether or not water is either “hard” or “soft”.
Hard water is much, much heavier than soft due to the excess of calcium carbonate and magnesium dissolved within. Soft water, on the other hand, is much lighter than hard water due to it only containing salt and sodium rather than the heavier magnesium and calcium.
In order to tell if you have hard or soft water in your taps, you’ll need to calculate the mineral content within the water by weighing it using the metric “grains per gallon” (GPG).
If your taps consist of hard water, your grains per gallon reading will read in excess of 60 milligrams per liter. If your water weighs anything less, it is safe to assume it’s soft water.
Hard water gets its name: “hard” thanks to its inability to mix well with other substances. Hard water’s excess mineral content makes mixing with soaps and other fluids much more difficult. As a result, it was only fit to name water with an excess of calcium and magnesium: “hard”.
How Does Water Become Hard or Soft?
Water hardness occurs when pure rainwater filters through waterways and pipes. As the water flows, it picks up chalk, calcium, and magnesium from the ground.
Rainwater, at its source, is a soft kind of water. When rain evaporates, it leaves behind all the essential minerals dissolved within it. Eventually, when condensation occurs, rain falls from the sky, mineral-free and soft.
You may think hard water, containing additional elements such as calcium or magnesium dissolved within it, being much more dangerous to consume. However, you’re mistaken.
The NIH (National Institutes of Health) found that the additional mineral content within hard water poses more health benefits than soft water. Consuming minerals such as magnesium and calcium has an array of health benefits, such as help regulate blood sugar levels, aid with digestion, and improve heart function.
Hard vs Soft Water: Head to head
Hard water takes the crown here due to the positive health benefits of drinking water with the additional minerals within it. Having magnesium and calcium in your diet is essential for improving your heart, help with blood sugar regulation and even help fight cancer cells.
Soft water, on the other hand, is much less favorable when talking about the health benefits. As soft water filters out magnesium and calcium, it is replaced with salt and sodium. Both of which are not good for the heart. If you suffer from heart problems, having a diet with increased sodium is not recommended.
Winner: Hard Water
Again, hard water takes this one due to the flavors of the additional minerals. This being said, the taste is totally subjective, and some people may prefer the slightly saltier taste of soft water.
Winner: Hard Water
Soft is the clear winner in the debate over which type is better for showering. The fewer minerals in the water, the better soap interacts and lathers. Therefore, soft water’s purity makes it so preferable for any interaction with soaps or powders.
Hard water, on the other hand, is to blame for showers’ build-up of soap scum. Soap is less effective due to its inability to dissolve magnesium and calcium. Reports even showed that users who showered under hard water reported had hair that felt sticky and itchy skin.
Water containing excess calcium and magnesium is better suited for your stomach but not your skin!
Winner: Soft Water
Soft water again is the winner here for the same reasons. Washing clothes with hard water can lead to spots and marks being left on materials. Consequently, the more you wash clothes with hard water, the sooner they’ll wear out, which will definitely drain your wallet.
The naturally soft type is much kinder to your clothes and appliances. Similarly to clothes getting ruined, appliances can also take a toll when succumbing to hard water with excess minerals.
A washing machine can have a scale build-up due to the mineral deposits found within the hard water. This causes the machines to become damaged and you could incur mineral saturated water costs.
Winner: Soft Water
Scale build-up goes hand in hand with hard water. Despite hard water being the much healthier water to consume, when it comes to appliances and your hair, it’s unfortunately not the same case. Minerals, especially magnesium ions found in hard water, cause scale build-up.
Winner: Hard Water
The Final Verdict
Overall, there are arguments for both sides. Hard water is tastier and healthier to consume, whereas soft water is much more cost-effective for your appliances, safer for your hair and skin while also being much more efficient in reducing scale build-up.
Both in their own right have a place; it’s just a matter of knowing which water is better for which action.
Is a Water Softener Worth It?
If you have damaged clothes, dry, itchy skin, sticky hair, and scale build-up on your appliances, then it’s definitely time to consider a water softener.
A water softener works by filtering water through positively charged beads. Due to both calcium and magnesium ions being positively charged, the ions stick to the beads within the water-softer system. This results in the hard water’s mineral content being much lower and safer to use.
There are many benefits associated with investing in a water softening system. These benefits include cleaner laundry, which lasts longer before showing signs of wear and damage, appliances that require less maintenance and cleaning, cleaner sinks and showers, and finally, water appliances such as washing machines, a water heater, or dishwashers which run much more efficiently and effectively.
So, in short, yes. A water softening system is definitely worth it if you care about saving money and having more efficient appliances.
If you’re interested in finding out more information why check out our water softeners article.
Can Hard Water Break my Appliances?
As mentioned briefly before, hard water can definitely have a negative impact on your appliances. Hard water will not ‘break’ your appliances, but it will definitely make them a lot less efficient and require much more maintenance due to scale build-up.
The hard water vs soft water debate is one most being don’t realize they need to have. Switching from hard to soft water will improve the longevity of your appliances and stop draining money from your wallet…
What’s the Difference Between Hard and Soft Water?
The answer, in short, is minerals. Hard water contains lots of minerals, whereas soft water contains little to no minerals. As a consequence, hard water is much heavier than soft water. Below is a list of water weights in grains per gallon to help you identify if your water is hard or soft:
- Soft water- less than 1 gpg
- Hard water- 1-11 gpg
- Extremely hard- over 11 gpg
When it comes to your health, it is probably better to drink hard water. This is simply due to the mineral benefits dissolved within the water. It is still safe and healthy to drink softened water, but the benefits of drinking hard water far outweigh the pros of drinking softened water.
There are many debates between the pros and cons of hard vs soft water. However, one thing is for sure: soft water is far, far better for your skin. The minerals found within hard water cause skin to itch and hair to get sticky. The purity of soft water makes it much more effective in mixing with soap and causing skin to not get damaged.
Drinking water is beneficial regardless of water quality. However, hard water is actually the much healthier option between the two. The dissolved minerals found in hard water are what make it so beneficial to drink.
There are numerous advantages associated with drinking hard water over soft: hard water helps regulate blood sugar levels, aid with digestion, and improve heart function along with many other health benefits.
Soft water is still safe to consume in the absence of hard water; however, naturally, the water contains fewer minerals.
The best way to soften hard water at home is to invest in a water softening system. These systems are the most efficient way to remove the magnesium ions found within the water particles.
The particles found in the water are positively charged, so when two positively charged ions meet, they attract. This is how water softeners can purify your water at home.