Hard Water vs Soft Water: Home and Health Benefits

Hard water... is water that contains an appreciable quantity of dissolved minerals (like calcium and magnesium).

Soft water... is treated water in which the only ion is sodium.

Hard vs Soft

What is Hard Water?

As rainwater falls, it is naturally soft. However, as water makes its way through the ground and into our waterways, it picks up minerals, like chalk, lime and mostly calcium, and magnesium, and becomes hard water. The abundance of dissolved minerals gives hard water a corrosive nature, presenting problems for home surfaces, skin and hair, as well as everyday objects that are often exposed to water treatments like clothes and dishes.

Can You Tell the Difference Between Hard Water and Soft Water?

When looking at the effects of hard water vs soft water, there are several tangible signs of hard water that may be noticed throughout the home in your daily housework. Hard water buildup often causes dingy clothes, dishes with spots and residue, and bathtubs with film and soap scum. Your soaps and solvents may even be less effective due to a magnesium and calcium reaction present in many household products. Not only does this take a toll on clothes, dishes, and surfaces, but your appliances, pipes, and water heaters may become damaged over time due to the scale buildup.

Common signs of Hard Water:

  • White spots or buildup on shower heads and faucets
  • Buildup of soap scum in showers, tubs, and sinks
  • Stains on clothing and linens, as well as dull or dingy whites
  • White spots of calcium buildup on silverware, glasses, dishes, and bakeware after going through the dishwasher.
  • Decrease in water pressure due to buildup in pipes and faucets
  • Dried out or irritated skin

What is Scaling?

The buildup of mineral deposits – also referred to as “scale” – is often highly visible and easy to detect. Solidified scale often occurs when temperatures increase, causing the water to evaporate and leave behind its abundance of minerals.

Is Hard Water Safe for Drinking?

It is important to differentiate the toll that buildup can have on surfaces from being an urgent health risk. Hard water may actually be preferred for drinking water in many cases for the higher levels of essential minerals that are vital to our health. The flavor of hard water is often preferred to that of soft water as well.

Though soft water is safe to drink in most cases, it often has a salty taste depending on the softening method used, and is sometimes not suitable for drinking as it is lacking in minerals and may have added salts or solvents. This is especially important for those with high blood pressure to be aware of, as the higher sodium levels may have an effect on their health with regular consumption. As a general rule for all soft water drinkers, it is important to keep a diet rich in important vitamins and minerals to make up for the lack of them in softened water.

Is Soft Water Better Than Hard Water?

The reason so many choose soft water for their home or business is because of its increased effectiveness in cleaning. When clothes, dishes, skin, and surfaces are cleaned using soft water, there is no presence of mineral buildup, making surfaces smoother, shinier, and cleaner. Because soft water is more effective on the first wash, there’s no need to run machines more than once to achieve the desired cleanliness, and lower volumes of soaps and solvents are required in order to assist that cleaning process. This decreases the waste of products, water, and energy, benefiting both your wallet, and the planet.

Main benefits of soft water in the home:

  • Reduce buildup on surfaces
  • Increase the effectiveness of soaps and detergents
  • Prevent skin and hair from becoming dry and brittle
  • Protect pipes and appliances
  • Decrease costs from the overuse of water, energy, and household products.

Health Benefits: Hard Water vs Soft Water… vs Filtered Water

The difference between hard water and soft water is mostly relevant to your home’s surfaces and appliances. When it comes to health benefits, the most important thing to consider is whether the water in your home is clean and safe. Depending on your home’s location, water source, and volume of water usage, the right filter can protect you and your family from bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other minerals that cause unpleasant smells and tastes. Explore our diverse collection of APEC whole house water filtration systems, to deliver clean and safe water throughout the entire home.

What to Do Next

Tired of the buildup from hard water in your home? Shop top of the line APEC Water Softeners to reduce the pesky effects that hard water has on your home.

Read Next: Water Hardness Levels in the USA

On the other hand, house workers will love using soft water, as tasks can actually be performed more efficiently with it. Soap will lather better and items will be left cleaner. Glasses will sparkle and hair will look healthy. The shower curtain will be scum-free. Clothes and skin are left softer. In addition to time, soft water can also save money, as less soap and detergents will be used. Since appliances have to work less hard, soft water can also prolong the life of washing machines, dishwaters and water heaters. Energy bills are noticeably lower when in households with water softeners. In a time when energy costs rise higher and higher, this is something for you to consider. Not to mention the benefit of reduced scale buildup.

New Salt-Free Water Conditioners - No Salt, No Mess! Click here for details.

Soft water is not, however, suggested for those with heart or circulatory problems, or others who may be on a low sodium diet. In the softening process, as minerals are removed, sodium content increases. Research shows that cardiovascular disease has the lowest risk in areas where water has the most mineral content.

The Best of Both Worlds: A Solution

There are ways to combat the sodium in soft water, which will allow households to enjoy better tasting water, as well as have the best available water for cleaning needs. They are reverse osmosis, distillation and deionization.

What type is your water? The Water Quality Association of the United States defines hard water as having dissolved mineral hardness of 1 GPG (grain per gallon) or more. Here is a helpful table to show the hardness of water:

  • Soft Water- less than 1 gpg
  • Slightly Hard- 1-3.5 gpg
  • Moderately Hard- 3.5-7 gpg
  • Very Hard- 7-10 gpg
  • Extremely Hard- over 10 gpg

Read Next: Water Hardness Levels in the USA

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