Hard Water Vs. Soft Water – What’s The Difference?

Have you ever heard of the terms ‘Hard water’ and ‘Soft water’?

One might say “Hard water” is simply, frozen water i.e. ice, and that “Soft water” is just melted ice.

But, it’s not that simple!

The adjective, ‘hard’ in the term ‘Hard water’ isn’t specifically the texture of the water, but refers to the significant amount of minerals present in the water. When such mineral content is high along with high concentrations of magnesium carbonates, and calcium ions in water, it is called hard water.

Meanwhile, soft water is water that has low concentrations of magnesium and calcium ions.

Now that we’ve got the gist of the two types of water, we will be going in-depth about them, including their formations, uses, benefits, and drawbacks.

But first, let’s zoom in a little closer to the term, hard water.

Hard Water

About five seconds ago, we learned that hard water is high in mineral content. But, where is the source of all these minerals?

When rainwater makes its way to the deep underground and into our waterways such as a canal, it picks up various minerals like calcium, chalk, lime, and magnesium. Such minerals make the water hard. Often, this type of water is used for drinking as it is deemed healthy due to its mineral content. But despite some of its health benefits, it also causes costly damages to cooling towers, boilers, and other supply equipment.

A fun fact- Water available in most US states is hard because the sea beds have high limestone concentrations!

But, how to identify hard water? and also, how to know if the water supplied at your home is hard?

First off, it’s impossible to identify hard water with a naked eye. But, here are a few signs that help to spot hard water at your home.

  • Formation of limescale in heaters
  • Little to no foam while washing clothes with soap
  • Stains in taps and pipes

Icky, right? But, there’s a process called, Water softening that transforms hard water into a soft one.

But before that, let’s learn a bit about soft water.

Soft Water

Soft water contains easily soluble salts of potassium, sodium and very little concentration of ions. There are finite benefits of soft water.

Soft water usually forms where rainfall and the drainage basin of rivers are formed of hard, impervious, and calcium-poor rocks.

Normally, soft water must always contain less than 50 mg of calcium carbonate. Any other water with an equal or higher concentration is considered, hard.

Although commonly used to describe filtered water, ‘Soft water’ can also be called ‘Softened water’. But, it may contain elevated levels of bicarbonate ions and sodium which may not be considered soft.

Hard Water Vs. Soft Water

Hard water is better in terms of taste and health than soft water and is often used for drinking. However, hard water is responsible for stained taps and water sources, bathtubs with film, and dishes with residue and spots.

Whereas, soft water makes it easier to wash clothes, take a shower, and save up some money on your energy bill.

What makes hard water and soft water very distinguishable from each other are:

  1. Mineral Content: Hard water has a high mineral content, whereas, soft water has low
  2. Drinking Purposes: Hard water is suitable for drinking, soft water is not
  3. Chores: Soft water is great for cleaning and other chores, while hard water creates a problem by staining faucets.

Advantages of Hard Water Vs. Soft Water

Advantages of Hard Water Advantages of Soft Water
  • Rich in essential minerals
  • Suitable for drinking
  • Useful for fighting and preventing certain heart and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Better taste than soft water
  • Cleans dishes with no stains
  • Better for skin
  • Prolonged life of water heaters, washing machines, dishwashers, etc.
  • Low energy bills

Disadvantages of Hard Water Vs. Soft Water

Disadvantages of Hard Water  Disadvantages of Soft Water 
  • Dishes with spots and films
  • May use up more energy
  • Reduces the efficiency of household appliances
  • Dry skin
  • Could cause an increase in eczema, especially in children
  • Not suitable for drinking
  • May cause heart or circulatory problems
  • May harm blood cells and interfere with the process in which oxygen is carried to our organs

Now that we know the differences between hard water and soft water, you may be wondering how to soften hard water and vice versa.

Here’s how you can soften hard water:

Now that we’ve covered most details about hard water and soft water, you may be wondering how to soften hard water and vice versa.

Here’s how you can soften hard water:

How to Soften Hard Water

  1. Water Softeners: Water softeners are the best and most effective way to soften water. The types of water softeners follow as:
  2. Salt-Based Softeners: These softeners use salt to exchange ions that eliminate the mineral ions in the regeneration cycle.
  3. Salt-Free Water Softeners: Often called water conditioners, they alter the hard water minerals but won’t remove them.
  4. Dual Tank Water Softeners: These heavy-duty water softeners use two huge iron tanks that are best for household uses. Although quite expensive, they ensure long term use.
  5. Magnetic Water Descalers: Unpopular and less efficient but hassle-free alternative, this method uses a magnetic field to prevent limescale from building up in the water system.

Shower Head Water Softener System

This filtration system uses several layers of carbon filters to soften water. The use of zinc and copper in KDF filters effectively eliminates most of the heavy metals including, chlorine.

Similarly, the use of Vitamin C filters alters chemical structures of excess minerals and removes them.

The Alternatives

Despite water softeners being effective, they are expensive and require high maintenance. Some may not even be applicable to your home.

That’s why we’ve got you covered! Here are some useful alternatives:

  • Remove the excess water from the bathtub or tap surfaces using a sponge or a squeegee.
  • Clean the surface of utensils and countertops with all-purpose cleaners.
  • Use vinegar to remove stains.
  • Use detergents to soften water while washing.

Now that we’ve come to an end, we believe you’ve become capable enough to distinguish hard water from soft. What type of water is supplied to your home? Please let us know!