You must have heard people talk about hard and soft water, wondering what that means. Water hardness is a measure of certain minerals in water that ‘hardens’ it. But it’s not sufficient to just know this.
It’s also important to understand how hard and soft differ. More importantly, why is soft water better for your household, and are there any health concerns about water hardness? We’ll discuss all these questions and many more in this article.
How Is Soft Water Different From Hard Water?
As mentioned above, the hardness of water is defined by the presence of certain minerals, namely magnesium and calcium. An abundance of these minerals in water increases hardness.
On the other hand, soft water is devoid or has a low concentration of these minerals. Instead, it is rich in salt or sodium ions.
How to Differentiate Between Hard and Soft Water?
Looking at water, you can’t tell if it’s hard or soft since minerals are not visible to the naked eye. However, there are other ways to determine if the water in your home is hard.
- Residual Film: When you wash your hands with hard water, it will leave a film behind. That’s because of the reaction between calcium and soap, which results in the formation of soap scum.
- Mineral Stains: Since hard water is rich in minerals, it deposits them on clothes too. Thus, you’ll notice mineral stains on your laundry. Moreover, clothes washed regularly in hard water tend to wear out quickly.
- Spots: Hard water also leaves spots on your dishes and appliances. If your plates, silverware, and glasses come out spotty from the dishwasher, your tap water is likely hard. These spots are calcium carbonate deposits.
- Low Water Pressure: Since hard water deposits minerals on the interior of pipes, there’s less space for water to flow. As a result, water pressure goes down over time.
On the other hand, if you have soft water at home, the pressure will be satisfactory. Moreover, you won’t have to rinse your hands for a long time to remove the soap scum or clean the spots off your kitchen appliances.
Sometimes, soft water has a slight sodium taste in it. But it’s mostly non-perceptible.
Is Hard Water Bad For Health?
The common consensus among homeowners is a preference for soft water. But this doesn’t mean hard water is harmful to your health, although, It does cause dry hair and skin since the minerals strip your skin of oils.
If you shower or wash your face with hard water regularly, your skin might start to feel itchy and scaly. Moreover, calcium and magnesium can also alter your skin’s pH balance, weakening the barrier against infections and air-borne bacteria.
If you suffer from eczema, you’ll have a noticeable effect on your skin.
A less expensive solution for this problem would be to consult a dermatologist. They’ll guide you about using hair products and skin moisturizers to combat the water hardness in your home.
The more practical – although expensive – option is to invest in a water softening system.
Is Soft Water Bad For Health?
If you’re getting sufficient amounts of magnesium and calcium from your diet, then soft water is not a hazard to your health. However, if you have people with high blood pressure at home, you might want to reconsider getting a water softening system.
Soft water is rich in sodium and salts that people with hypertension are often advised against. Moreover, make sure the pipes in your house have been treated against lead. Otherwise, water softening systems are known to cause lead leaching.
What Is Water Softening?
Soft water refers to water rich in sodium and low in magnesium and calcium. Therefore, water softening is a system that runs hard water through a resin with sodium ions.
The positively charged molecules replace calcium and magnesium from the water passing through the resin. To keep the resin working efficiently, sodium pellets need to be added to a water softener periodically.
Some alternative water softening systems also use citric acid, potassium pellets, and chelation agents. You can learn more about these and other water softeners on best-osmosis-systems.com.
Why Do You Need Soft Water In Your Home?
Although hard water is not harmful upon ingestion, it’s still a nuisance for your kitchen appliances, hair, skin, and laundry. On the flip side, soft water has several benefits, making it a better alternative to hard water for domestic use.
Hard water damages your plumbing over time due to the deposition of minerals. Meanwhile, soft water keeps your plumbing safe since it’s more ‘gentle’ on the pipes.
Firstly, soft water increases the lifespan of your water pipes. It’s hard for the plumbing to ensure a flow of hard water since the minerals damage the interior. On the contrary, a constant stream of soft water is easier to maintain.
Secondly, hard water lowers the water pressure since the minerals take up space in the plumbing. But soft water solves this problem, eliminating any mineral residual to ensure a smooth flow rate.
Soft water also helps you save money since it extends the lifespan of your kitchen appliances, washing machine, and dishwasher. When minerals build upon an appliance, the machine is more prone to malfunctioning or breaking down.
So, you’ll have to spend extra on repairs every other month. Likewise, the repair bill adds up for the plumbing, too, since you need to get the pipes cleaned.
With soft water, none of these problems exist anymore. Moreover, soft water lowers your electricity or gas bill. When there’s scale buildup in a pipe, the passageway for water narrows. It also minimizes the efficiency of heat transfer.
Therefore, you have to run your water heater at a higher setting, increasing the utility bill. But soft water eliminates this problem by regulating heat transfer and water pressure.
Moreover, hard water requires you to use more detergent and dishwashing liquid since these solutions don’t dissolve well in mineral-rich water.
But soft water lowers your cleaning solution usage since it allows better dissolving – another way to save a few bucks.
You might think your dishwasher is doing a poor job, but it’s most likely hard water that’s to blame.
The minerals from hard water deposit on dishes, leaving spots and cloudiness.
On the other hand, soft water effectively mixes with the dishwashing soap, creating more lather, and leaving the dishes cleaner and spotless.
If your skin feels scaly or rough, hard water is most probably the culprit. You can use every skincare product there is, but since you’re washing your face with hard water, your skincare routine’s benefits are nullified.
As hard water minerals strip the skin of naturally produced oils, your skin might feel irritated and itchy.
Fortunately, soft water fixes this problem since it allows your skin to hold moisture.
Just like your skin, hard water also has a negative effect on your hair, making it frizzy, brittle, and dull. You might also experience hair dryness since calcium and magnesium remove natural oils from your hair.
A water softener will soften your shower water, making it healthier for hair and skin.
Cleaner and Brighter Clothes
Clothes washed in hard water don’t only retain mineral stains but also appear dull. With time, their color starts fading.
In contrast, soft water maintains the brightness, softness, and new-like appearance of your clothes. Plus, it dissolves detergents efficiently, reducing your overall expenditure on detergents.
As you can see, soft water has a ton of advantages for your hair, skin, clothes, dishes, and appliances. A basic water softener costs around $500, while the advanced models might be up to $3000.
The good news is, most water softeners last for a good two decades, making the investment worthwhile. So, it’s about time you choose the best water softener for your home and save money on plumbing and appliance repairs.