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Soft Water vs Hard Water: The Differences Explained

Have you ever washed your hands but couldn’t get the soap to lather up? Are your dishes becoming increasingly cloudy? You may be experiencing the effects of hard water, just like many American households.

Even though hard water is common, many people don’t realize they have it in their homes. They don’t know the difference between hard and soft water or what they can do to prevent problems caused by hard water.

And that’s why we’re here. This is your complete guide to soft water vs. hard water and what you can do about it!

Hard Water

Hard water is simply defined as water that has an excess of minerals dissolved within it. Those minerals are most commonly magnesium and calcium.

These minerals occur naturally and are commonly found in all different kinds of water sources. The amount of these minerals found within water varies depending on the geographical area and the type of water source.

On their own, there is nothing inherently bad about these minerals. In fact, they do a lot of good in the body; from strengthening bones to controlling muscle function. But put together in a high concentration, they can cause some issues.

One common example of the side effects of hard water is very dry skin. When you shower using water that has a high concentration of these minerals,  it can suck out the extra moisture from your body. That creates itchy, dry, flaky, or red areas on the skin.

The calcium in the water also often creates major build-up in your plumbing. This is obviously a big problem for water flow and the appliances that rely on that. A back-up like this in your system can cause cracking and leaking, which then lead to other expensive plumbing problems.

Luckily, it’s easy to see if you have hard water in your home. There is no special test needed, simply observe your daily interactions with water.

Hard water has many tell-tale signs like a cloudy glass after being washed in the dishwasher, clothes fading quickly or not getting fully clean, and stains from water droplets on faucets or shower walls. When you see these types of things on a regular basis, it’s pretty clear that you have hard water.

Once you know that, you can decide what the next step will be for your house.

Soft Water

On the other end of the spectrum, you have soft water! This water still has minerals dissolved inside but at a much lower concentration than that found in hard water.

This water classification gets its name because it’s more gentle on everything it’s used for; dishes, skin, clothes, and even the plumbing system. There is much less potential for damage with soft water.

Soft water increases the effectiveness of appliances because the machine isn’t working against the minerals found in hard water.

You’ll know you have soft water if your dishes come out of the dishwasher crystal clear, clothes come out bright, or if soap lathers easily when washing your hands. You also won’t notice any water spots in high traffic water areas of your home, like faucets or shower heads.

Water that has fewer minerals and is softer is generally preferred by most people for their homes.

Soft Water vs. Hard Water

In the debate between soft vs. hard water, there’s a pretty clear winner. But let’s compare the two types together to the difference and why soft water is more popular.

Hard water is more commonly found in homes because of where it’s coming from.

Wells are dug far into the Earth to hidden water sources. The water is then systematically brought up and used in our daily lives. As the water gets to that water source by moving over rocks and through the dirt. This is where it picks up the extra calcium and magnesium.

Soft water doesn’t appear in nature as often as hard water does. This is because it is generally found in surface water, like collected rain or the basin of a river. And those aren’t usually water sources for houses.

Even though soft water doesn’t often happen naturally in a home’s water source, many still choose to take the steps to change their hard water to soft water.

The main reason being for cleaning purposes as soap tends to work better in soft water. It will lather much quicker and then rinse out easier as well. Appliances last longer with softer water because they don’t get that mineral deposits and build-up.

Drinking soft water vs. hard water is also a common debate. Most people prefer soft water because it has a cleaner taste. It’s also easier to clean glass since they won’t have hard water spots.

This change between types of water isn’t difficult to achieve and can be done in basically any house. And the results will make a big difference in daily life.

Water Filtration Systems

The answer to the hard water problem is simple; a water softening system.

Most softening systems use an ion exchange filter. When the water goes into the softener the filter pulls out those calcium and magnesium ions. Once they are removed, the water is no longer hard. It’s that easy!

These systems are usually fairly inexpensive to install and have little upkeep. This step doesn’t impede the use of your water either, which is a big bonus.

The investment into a water softening system comes back to you over the years. Appliances will last longer and be more efficient over their life. The same goes for the pipes and plumbing system.

A water filtration system is such an easy way to prevent major problems in your home.

Understanding Your Water

There really isn’t much contest in soft water vs hard water. Soft water is clearly much better than hard water for homes and families.

It’s time to stop spending all your time cleaning water spots off your whole house. There’s no need to endure dry skin, hair, and nails. And it’s definitely not necessary to be continually worrying about clogged pipes or drains.

Take away all of those issues with one quick addition of a water softening system. And if you’re also interested in upgrading your water filtration while you’re at it, we have you covered with our wide variety of different water filters.

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