Hard and soft water sounds odd if you’re reading that for the first time, but they do exist and they have some differences.
Hard water runs through mineral-rich soil and rock. The aquifers and other underground sources collect calcium, magnesium carbonate, and manganese from the rocks, and these dissolved minerals are what supplies the qualities known collectively as “hardiness” in water. On the other hand, soft water is produced by an innovative water softener system, which runs hard water through a resin that is coated with positively charged sodium ions. This releases water that’s rich in sodium instead of dissolved minerals.
Many states in the U.S. have moderate to very hard water, which makes problems such as dingy laundry, soap scum, and bathtub rings common in many households. You can test the hardness of your water through an inexpensive test kit that’s available online.
What Qualifies as Hard Water?
Any water that contains over 1 GPG (grain per gallon) of dissolved minerals is technically considered hard, but in actuality, water with up to 3.5 GPG of dissolved minerals is still soft. It would be considered very hard if its dissolved minerals content reaches 10.5 GPG and above.
Why is Hard Water Problematic?
The dissolved minerals in hard water can leave limescale and other crystallized deposits in our pipes, potentially causing it to clog and reduce water flow. These would lead to plumbing system issues and high energy bills.
Below is a detailed breakdown of the common problems caused by hard water:
- Reduced efficiency of water heaters.According to a study by the Water Quality Research Council at New Mexico State University, water heaters lose 22% to 30% of their efficiency when its pipes are filled with limescale.
- Poor lather of soap products.If you can’t seem to make your soap, shampoo, and cleansers produce a good lather, that’s because of the dissolved minerals in hard water reacting with those products. This forces you to use more of them, which then leads you to rinse more, resulting in costly water bills.
- Faded laundry.The poor lather of laundry detergents can discolor your clothes, too. Furthermore, the dissolved minerals can leave stains on the fabric and make it more susceptible to wear and tear damage.
- High energy bills.Apart from clogging pipes, limescale and other crystallized deposits also force appliances to work harder, which would inevitably rack up your energy bills.
- Bathtub rings.Bathtub rings that seem impossible to remove are also caused by the dissolved minerals.
- White stains on dishes and cookware.The soap curd or scum forming on your dishes and cookware are actually crystallized deposits.
- Aggravated eczema, rosacea, rashes, and other skin conditions. Hard water changes the skin’s pH levels, which weakens its natural ability to resist harmful bacteria and infections. The calcium can also alter the skin’s oil chemistry, making it more prone to dryness. As a result, skin issues including acne, large pores, redness, itchiness, eczema, and rosacea may worsen.
- Dry hair and irritated scalp.Like the skin, the hair and scalp also need ample moisture, which hard water poorly provides. Aside from also altering the scalp’s pH levels, hard water erodes the hair’s elasticity as well, giving it a limp and rough appearance.
If you suffer from most, if not all, eight of these problems, then it’s definitely the time to invest in a good water softener. Soft water doesn’t leave any deposit in your pipes, which solves all the problems of soap scum, faulty appliances, and skin and hair issues. Overall, it allows you to save water and energy, and of course, leaves your skin and hair softer and smoother.