Soft Water vs Hard Water
Hard and soft water are terms that describe the mineral content.
The minerals in water can affect how well soap lathers, the taste of water, and the life of water-using appliances, like laundry machines or dishwashers.
In this article, we’ll explore what hard and soft water are, as well as analyze their differences, so you can have a thorough understanding of the types you’re using at home.
What Is Hard Water?
Hard water has a high mineral content, mostly calcium, and magnesium. These minerals are naturally occurring and are found in groundwater as it flows through limestone and other rock formations.
Hard can have a noticeable impact on household appliances and plumbing, among others. For example, when hard is heated, it leaves mineral deposits in heaters, reducing their lifespan and efficiency. This leads to decreased pressure, clogged pipes, and increased energy costs.
Also, hard can make it more difficult to produce lather with soap, something that can lead to soap buildup. And it may have an impact on the taste of water, too, giving it a slightly metallic or bitter flavor.
That said, hard is very commonly found and used in many households throughout the United States. In those hard areas, softeners are often used to lower hardness and reduce hard impact on appliances and fixtures.
Upsides and Downsides to Hard Water
As discussed above, hard contains higher levels of minerals, like magnesium and calcium.
That’s why hard can alter the taste of beverages and food prepared with it and can even make soap and detergents less effective.
Another downside is that hard leaves residue and spots around your house: When hard lands on surfaces, collects on shower doors and shower heads or dries on dishes, the evaporating water leaves scale buildup. If you look closely, you can even see it on your washed silverware that has spots or white film.
And lastly, we have the plumbing effects. Houses that use very hard for decades often suffer from clogged pipes and fixtures. One might not notice it in the beginning, but as the limescale deposits keep on building, the water pressure throughout your house decreases continuously.
And while there may be low output flow at your faucets, internal pressure within your plumbing system increases. When pressure spikes become too high, you might experience leaking or pipe bursts.
What Is Soft Water?
Soft water has none of these problems.
Soft water, unlike hard, is with low mineral content. Typically, soft water comes from surface sources, like lakes and rivers. Another common way to get access to soft water is through the means of a softening system. This softening process uses salt to remove hard minerals from the water:
Hard enters the softener through the head valve. It flows through a softening resin which is made up of small, round beads. These beads are supercharged with salt sodium.
As the hard water gets in contact with the beads and the sodium, calcium and magnesium bind to the beads while the sodium is being released. This process continues and the hard minerals keep on accumulating in the softening system until they are flushed out in a periodic rinsing cycle.
Soft or softened reduces the buildup of mineral deposits on appliances and plumbing fixtures noticeably, making it more energy efficient than hard.
Soft water can also produce more lather with soap, making it a good water choice for cleaning. It also reduces soap buildup. Moreover, soft is often preferred for personal care products, like shampoo or soap, as it produces more lather and rinses off more easily.
In the end, hard and soft water can impact water-using appliances and plumbing differently. And that makes sense since hard has a high mineral content, while soft has a low mineral content. Most importantly.
- Hard water can cause mineral buildup on appliances and fixtures, reducing their efficiency and lifespan over time. Soft water, on the other hand, reduces mineral buildup and improves the efficiency of water-using appliances, making it easier to maintain them.
- Hard can eventually lead to low flow at faucets and other outlets, while internal pipe pressure may increase to the point that leakages occur. Soft does not form limescale deposits.
It’s really important to understand the differences between hard and soft and how they can impact your daily life and routine so that when the time comes, you can make an informed decision about which type is preferable for you — especially when you’re ready to buy a home for your family and looking out for a mortgage quote.