The primary difference between soft and hard water is the amount of dissolved minerals and ions. Soft water, as indicates by the name, is soft on the skin and also feels light on the stomach while drinking. On the contrary, hard water has a slightly different taste than normal water and feels heavy on the stomach and skin, causing your home appliances to suffer also. However, a detailed analysis of soft and hard water will clarify their major differences and characters in a better way. If you want a complete and detailed guide on soft and hard water, this article is what you need to read right now.
How Is Water Termed as Soft or Hard?
All the water on this planet doesn’t have the same properties. Almost 85% of the U.S. supply has hard water, and most of them have to use water softeners to make it soft. But a question arises how to term any water hard or soft? The concentration of calcium and magnesium determines the hardness of the water. The concentration of calcium and magnesium in soft and hard water is given below.
Soft water: less than 17 parts per million
Slightly hard water: 17 to 60 parts per million
Moderately hard water: 60 to 120 parts per million
Hard water: 120 to 180 parts per million
Very hard water: greater than 180 parts per million
Detailed Overview of Soft Water
What is Soft Water?
Soft water has low levels of calcium and magnesium concentrations, usually less than 17ppm. Unlike hard water, soft water doesn’t clog home appliances and also feels light on the skin and stomach. Besides calcium and magnesium, soft water is also free from dissolved iron which can form insoluble deposits.
Where is Soft Water Found?
The most common source of soft water is rain. The rainwater is naturally soft and free from dissolved minerals and metals. It becomes harder only when it contacts the heavy metals on earth. Besides this, every region has different water chemistry depending upon the geological conditions of that area. Major soft water sources are peat or igneous rock sources, such as granite, but they may also come from sandstone sources.
More precisely, soft water is usually found more on the West compared to East Coast. Besides this, soft water is also common in New England and other areas having excessive granite bedrock.
Pros of Soft Water
Feels Soft on Skin and Hair: Soft water contains low levels of calcium and magnesium; that’s why it feels soft on skin and hair. When you take a bath with soft water, there isn’t any buildup on your scalp and skin. Moreover, it produces more suds and is less likely to produce mineral deposits and stains. It increases the effectiveness of soap, so you don’t have additional cleaning after using soft water for stains and deposits.
Prevent Scale Buildup: Using soft water in your home can increase the lifespan of hot water devices like dishwashers and heaters. It happens because soft water doesn’t leave scales, so the devices work better as a result.
Cons of Soft Water
Soft water has no harmful effects or concerns as it is completely safe to consume. Sometimes soft water has a slippery feel that most people may not like. Soft water lacks some mineral content, so it can have a milder taste or completely tasteless taste. Soft water doesn’t provide any of the minor health benefits offered by mineral water.
Detailed Overview of Hard Water
What is hard water?
Hard water has higher mineral content, especially calcium and magnesium. The amount of dissolved calcium carbonate describes the hardness of water generally. Hard water is further classified into the following categories by the U.S. geological survey, depending upon the amount of calcium carbonate in hard water.
- Moderately hard water – 61 to 120 mg per liter of water
- Hard water – 121 to 180 mg per liter of water
- Very hard water – over 180 mg per liter of water
You can identify hard water through its taste, feel, and appearance.
Note: Not all mineral water is considered hard.
Where is Hard Water Found?
When ground water flows through the soil and rocks, minerals and metals get dissolved. That’s why well water is considered high because of the dissolved mineral contents. Especially if the soil around the water bodies is rich in calcium, the water will likely become hard. Almost 2000 domestic wells on the East Coast and Middle West ate more likely to have calcium-rich soil. Thus, the water in these areas is hard because of the calcium-rich soil.
Pros of Hard Water
Although drinking hard water doesn’t fulfill the daily mineral requirements (iron, calcium, and magnesium), it surely contributes to them. Besides this, these minerals can also make the water taste better than soft water’s tastelessness.
Cons of Hard Water
Hard water has various side effects on human health and your appliance’s health. These harmful impacts are as follows.
Damages Hair and Skin: Hard water, when it comes in contact with skin, removes the body’s natural oil and leaves a mineral buildup on the skin. Moreover, it makes hair dry and frizzy and contributes to hair fall issues. The minerals in hard water are harmful to skin and hair both.
Damages Appliances: Hard water creates a mineral buildup on plumbing fixtures and home appliances including dishwater, water heaters, washers, etc. This buildup leads to clogging, resulting in damage to the appliance. Clogging can damage your appliance completely, or it may increase the repairing cost. Moreover, the efficiency of appliances also decreases when clogging occurs due to mineral buildup.
Leaves Spots and Residues: The scaly look buildup is found on utensils, clothes, and even on the floor if you use hard water for washing. The streaks left behind by hard water cost you extra time and money for cleaning.
Key Differences between Soft and Hard Water
Although hard water and soft water differ in many ways, from mineral content to their sources, here is a brief differentiation between these two.
Higher mineral content especially calcium and magnesium
Low mineral content, lacks excessive calcium and magnesium
Saop in not effective, doesn't make foam and leather
Soap is effective, makes enough foam and leather
Spots and Residues
Leaves spots and residues on dishes, clothes and floor
Doesn't leave spots and residues on dishes, clothes and floor
Sometimes preferred drinking water
Sometimes not preferred drinking water
Effect on Hair and Skin
Makes hair and skin dry
Makes hair and skin soft
Ground water like deep wells
This guide is written to make the reader understand soft and hard water’s basic differences and features. I hope you find it helpful, and if you have any queries, you can ask in the comment section.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the easiest way to make hard water soft?
Water softeners can remove the dissolved calcium and magnesium salts, making the water soft for drinking and washing. You can order water softener systems online and enjoy filtered and soft water for your home.
2. Soft or hard, which water is better?
Overall, soft water is considered better as it doesn’t have a residue on the skin and appliances. Moreover, it doesn’t reduce the appliance’s lifespan by a mineral buildup as it has low mineral content. On the other hand, hard water damages skin, hair, and home appliances but sometimes provide a slightly better taste in drinking, if not exceeding the dangerous limits.
3. Can you make hard water soft by boiling it?
Boiling is one of the effective ways of removing bicarbonates (causing hardness) from water. The minerals causing water hardness will settle down in the bottom of the container after boiling; you can strain the water from the surface.