Hard water and soft water are two terms related to water commonly used by us in daily life. If you don’t know what distinguishes hard water from soft water, you are in the right place.
The softness or hardness of water is determined by the chemicals and minerals present in them. They are also different from each other in terms of our bodies ‘ safety and health.
The concentration of certain chemicals in water is what defines its hardness. In this article, we’ll talk about the hardness and softness of water in detail. We will also tell you about their respective benefits and health risks.
Let’s get started.
What is Hard Water
In simple words, hard water is water that has high levels of minerals present in it. The formation of hard water occurs when water goes through gypsum, chalk, and limestone deposits. These are mainly composed of sulfates, calcium, bicarbonates, and magnesium carbonates.
Drinking hard water has certain health benefits, and it can be identified by its milky appearance and less formation of bubbles.
How is Hard Water Measured?
It may be a good idea to be aware of the hardness of your water as it will help you in choosing the right type of water-softening system for your house.
In usual cases, you can try contacting your water supplier, who is most likely to have information about the same. To begin with, you can also first check out the website or yearly report of your supplier, which generally has all the details of the degrees of hardness of water supply in a particular region.
However, this information may vary depending on the location. Moreover, this option is also completely uncertain for people who use groundwater or water from wells.
To better understand how the hardness of water is measured, we must first tell you that the hardness of water is calculated in “grains” for every gallon, parts for each million, or in calcium milligrams for each liter. It is also measured in dH, which stands for German Degrees of Hardness.
Degrees of Water Hardness
Here are the degrees of water hardness scale…
- Soft water: 0 to 17.1 mg of minerals
- Little hard water: 16.1 to 60 mg of minerals
- Fairly hard water: 61 to 120 mg of minerals
- Hard water: 121 to 180 mg of minerals
- Extremely hard water: over 180 mg of minerals
However, for finding out the exact hardness of the water, there are special tests that can be conducted in both the home and the laboratory with great ease.
One of the most common methods is the soap test method that measures the hardness level of water in grains.
What is Soft Water?
Soft water is completely different from hard water as it does not contain any kind of harsh chemicals and minerals that have the ability to harm your body and home.
To put it simply, soft water is gentle on our skin and body. Have you ever seen the scale build-up near your home and around your pipes or appliances?
Soft water does not cause that. Hard water’s minerals are what cause it. Most of all, soft water enhances soap’s effectiveness in comparison with hard water. On the other hand, soap’s ingredients get inactivated due to hard water.
In terms of health, soft water can eliminate the dryness that is caused due to low humidity and cold weather. This means that you will face silky and soft hair and skin after washing them with soft water.
How to Tell if You Have Hard Water or Soft Water?
You can’t tell if the water is hard or soft by just looking at it as the difference is not clearly visible. However, the feel of the water is different, and hence, you can distinguish between the two by feeling them.
Indications of Hard Water
- After cleaning your hands with hard water, a film could be felt on your fingers and hands. This is due to the reaction mixture of soap and calcium, which results in the formation of soap scum. You will probably be required to wash your hands for a few more seconds in the case of hard water.
- Stains are likely to be seen on utensils, glasses, and mostly silverware after that have been cleaned in a dishwasher. Generally, these are calcium carbonate deposits.
- Stains can also be seen on clothing after getting washed with hard water in the washing machine, mainly due to high mineral concentrations.
- Water pressure will most likely be reduced because there might be a build-up of mineral deposits in the pipeline of your house, which reduces the overall diameter of the ducts.
Indications of Soft Water
- A bubbly lather will form when you wash utensils, clothes, as well as your body or hands with soft water.
- Soft water gives out cleaner clothing with a much lesser extent of wear and tear and no spots.
- Water pressure stays healthy.
- Soft water gives out a salty taste when you drink, which is again almost unnoticeable in most cases.
Difference Between Hard Water and Soft Water
Hard water features high concentrations of magnesium, calcium, as well as other minerals while on the other hand, soft water mostly includes sodium ions. When the concentrations of these minerals present in hard water are reduced through treatment, it is then that you get soft water.
For example, groundwater such as water inside deep wells is a good example of hard water, whereas rainwater is considered soft water.
To help you gain a clear understanding of key differences between both types of water, let’s have a look at a quick comparison table:
|It contains a variety of minerals
|It consists of only a few components
|Includes calcium and magnesium
|Includes sodium ions
|Causes dry skin and hair
|It makes skin and hair quite soft
|Soap isn’t much effective with hard water
|Soap is very much effective with soft water
|Soaps and detergents don’t create any foam or lather
|Soaps and detergents create bubbly lather
|A few visible stains on the dried vessels after they have been rinsed with hard water
|No stains on utensils after getting cleaned with soft water
Benefits of Hard Water
Owing to the high calcium and magnesium content present in hard water, the human body reacts positively to this type of water as it helps to fulfill the necessary daily consumption of some of the most vital minerals.
The concentration of magnesium present inside hard water will complete nearly 12% of your daily magnesium requirement if you just drink a couple of liters of this water every day.
Moreover, hard water, when used for drinking purposes, also has cardiovascular benefits. However, there hasn’t been much explicit finding on the same.
Are there any health risks associated with hard water?
Generally, hard water is considered to be safe, and there aren’t many serious negative impacts on human health. However, hard water may result in drying up your skin or hair. If you wash your hair with this type of water very often, you are most likely to end up with an itchy scalp.
Moreover, the increased concentration of minerals present in this water also has the potential to imbalance your skin’s pH. This leads to the inability of your skin to protect you against toxic infections or bacteria. Particularly, individuals who suffer from eczema are more vulnerable to this.
In such cases, it may be a good idea to invest in a water softener for your house that will reduce the high concentrations of minerals present in your hard water.
Alternatively, if you wish only to drink hard water, you may consult a specialist to guide you through the process of dealing with these negative impacts of hard water on your skin and hair.
Benefits of Soft Water
Soft water is mostly considered to be beneficial for cleaning purposes. As mentioned earlier, unlike hard water, this water is easily effective with soap and detergents.
As a result, it doesn’t lead to the formation of soap scum and any other spots caused by minerals.
As soft water makes an outstanding and effective cleaning mechanism, you will most likely end up saving on a lot of bucks that would otherwise get used up in your high water bills.
When you use soft water for your faucets and showers or use it for cleaning clothes and dishes, you will feel much greater ease throughout the process, meaning that you won’t be required to take longer minutes in the shower or feel the need to rewash your utensils. Soft water is going to leave everything nicely rinsed and cleaned.
Are there any health risks associated with soft water?
If your current diet already consists of the right amounts of magnesium and calcium content, you will be perfectly fine with drinking soft water, which has reduced mineral content.
Regardless, even if there is a shortage of these essential minerals in your daily routine, you can always get mineral supplements that are easily available in the market today.
However, apart from this, there is also a greater concern for individuals who suffer from high BP or blood pressure problems. These people may be vulnerable to the effects of their issue by drinking soft water, which has increased concentrations of sodium ions.
Therefore, it may be best to avoid drinking soft water in such cases and get rid of the water softener in your house if you have any.
Moreover, this type of water is likely to carry lead that may be present inside some rustier water pipelines in your house. And as you’d know, lead is one of the most harmful substances you can have in your drinking water.
To conclude, hard water and soft water don’t generally have adverse side effects, making them safe for consumption. However, some people may have concerns with the high level of sodium present in hard water.
If the level of sodium present in soft water is a concern for you, you can try your hands on consuming bottled water. If your home gets a hard water supply, and if you want to switch to soft water, you can always contact a plumber to sort it out.
What is meant by hard water and soft water?
Hard water comes with magnesium and calcium, and other minerals in a considerable amount. On the other hand, soft water is water that has gone through a series of treatments that eliminates all such minerals. Soft water has sodium as its only ion. The taste of soft water is salty, and it is not recommended to drink it.
How do you know if your water is hard or soft?
If your water is hard, you won’t find any bubbles, and the water will also appear milky cloudy. Soft water will have fluffy bubbles, and it also appears completely clear.
Which is better hard water or soft water?
Soft water has high levels of sodium, and hard water has high levels of minerals like magnesium and calcium. Moreover, hard water is more corrosive than soft water. Regardless, soft water doesn’t provide many health benefits, and it is also low in minerals, hence making hard water the better option for consumption.
Is it safe to drink hard water?
Generally, the consumption of hard water is safe. Not just that, it may also prove to be beneficial for our health as it comes with various minerals. Hard water’s benefits include completing your dietary needs as it is packed with necessary minerals like magnesium and calcium.