hard water vs. soft water

Chances are you’ve heard of hard water and soft water, but do you know what the differences are? How can you tell which type of water is running through your house? And what does that mean concerning the way you use and drink it?

You may think that the water in your home is pure just because it looks clear, but all water contains microscopic chemicals and minerals. This mineral concentration is what determines the hardness of your water.

What Is Hard Water?

Hard water is caused by the buildup of minerals, mainly calcium and magnesium. When rainwater initially falls, it is naturally soft. As this water makes its way through the ground and into our waterways, it begins to pick up minerals like chalk, lime, calcium, and magnesium, making the water hard.

These minerals are essential to health, and some people prefer the mineral-rich flavor of hard water. However, while the extra minerals can be good for your interior health, they are not necessarily the best for your home or skin. 

  • Do you ever notice spots on your glasses and dishes after washing them? These are calcium deposits, and over time, the buildup can start to reduce the effectiveness of your appliances.
  • Hard water can also show up as mineral stains on your clothes when they come out of the washing machine. Clothes may end up wearing out faster because hard water is harsh on fabrics.
  • Over time, mineral deposits can accumulate in your pipes, decreasing the amount of water that can flow through. This also lowers your water pressure and can increase your gas or electric bill over time.
  • Hard water can lead to water wastage by interacting with your hand soap. Soap causes a chemical reaction with the calcium in hard water, forming stubborn soap scum on your hands that takes longer to rinse away.
  • Regularly washing your hair in hard water can cause your hair dye to fade faster, plus make your hair duller and less pliable.

What Is Soft Water?

The opposite of hard water, soft water is free of minerals. It can sometimes have a saltier, sodium-forward taste, which is not ideal for drinking. But in many instances, this taste is so minor you may not even notice. Moreover, soft water is better for your skin, hair, and home.

  • No more spotty glasses or dishes! Without mineral and calcium deposits, there is no buildup, and your appliances will work better, longer, and more effectively. 
  • You can expect less cleaning around your home with soft water, as there will no longer be calcium buildup on your faucets and appliances. This may also save you money by cutting your need to buy special cleaning products.
  • Soft water results in cleaner clothes without mineral stains. They may also last longer because soft water is gentler on fabrics.
  • Free of mineral buildup, your pipes will remain clean, and your water will run better. Having clean pipes also helps with your water pressure and, in turn, keeps your water, electric, or gas bills lower.
  • Hard water dries out your skin and hair. Because soft water has fewer minerals, your skin will be able to hold onto moisture better, reducing the dry, itchy skin associated with hard water. Soft water can also level out the pH levels of your hair, reducing dryness and brittleness. Without calcium and other minerals, your water will lather soap better, leaving you with cleaner hands and skin and healthier, shinier hair. 

Why Experts Recommend Soft Water over Hard Water

Soft water can save you money on plumbing, appliances, clothes, and utility bills. It also saves you time cleaning your home and gives you cleaner hair and softer skin. It almost sounds too good to be true.

But what about the extra minerals you get from drinking hard water? Or the amount of sodium you get in soft water instead?

The added minerals in hard water can indeed be beneficial to your health. However, hard water isn’t the only everyday source of these minerals. You can easily get these same essential minerals by eating more healthy greens or bolstering your diet with vitamin pills and supplements. 

As for the sodium content of soft water, it’s true that using a water softening system can moderately raise your water’s sodium levels. This gives some people reservations, as they want to avoid adding extra sodium into their diet. 

But generally, the amount of sodium exchanged through water softening is minimal. In a glass of soft water, the average amount of sodium is between 12.5 – 20.6 mg. To put that into perspective, one egg contains 59 mg of sodium, a slice of bread has between 80-230 mg, and a teaspoon of regular table salt contains 2300 mg of sodium. So the new sodium level in your soft water may be no worse than consuming a fourth of an egg.

If you are still genuinely concerned about adding sodium to your water, you can partner your water softener with a water filtration system. For example, a reverse osmosis filtration system pushes the water through a semi-permeable membrane, removing sodium and other contaminants. This results in the same highly filtered, crystal clear water that the water bottling companies use.

Next Steps with The Science of Water

Still not sure whether your home has hard or soft water? Let The Science of Water help you get answers and figure out your next steps. First, contact us to set up a free water test. We will then work with you to determine which of our whole house water treatment systems is best for your home and your needs.

At The Science of Water, we use Puronics water treatment and filtration systems. Puronics uses SilverShield® NASA technology, and their products have been tested and certified by the EPA. In short, our systems employ cutting-edge technology to deliver the purest possible water for you and your family.

To get started on the path to clean water, simply contact us online or call us at (352) 745-7070 or (904) 580-0000.

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