You may think that the water that comes out of your tap in its natural form is the same, regardless of hard or soft water. You may not even know there is such a thing as hard or soft water! However, there can be major differences in your water based on your area, wells vs rainwater, filtration systems, and more.
What is Hard and Soft water?
Water is described as being either hard water or soft water. The difference is based on the number of dissolved minerals within the water. Hard water contains a high amount of calcium and magnesium minerals, vs soft water contains little to none. Instead of having higher levels of calcium and magnesium, soft water tends to have higher concentrations of sodium or salt.
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. Since hard water contains essential minerals, it is sometimes the preferred drinking water. Not only because of the health benefits, but also the flavor. Let’s get a myth out of the way right now, drinking hard water versus soft water is not a health hazard. In fact, the National Institutes of Health have found positive health benefits for drinking hard water, as calcium and magnesium play important roles in improved heart function, digestion, blood sugar regulation, even cancer-fighting. Hard water can taste better, as well.
Is it okay to drink hard tap water?
Yes, hard water does have added health benefits. Calcium and magnesium are important minerals the body needs for the growth and function of bones and muscles. These minerals also regulate blood pressure and enzyme actions. Consuming hard water may be a source of these minerals.
But if you don't want the side effects of hard water on your home there is a way around it. In terms of consumption, many experts claim that hard water is far better than soft water. Still, we should not ignore the benefits of soft water. Because of this, many experts suggest using a water softener that has a water bypass valve system. This will allow hard water to flow to some specific areas so that it can be used for drinking and cooking purposes. If not, we recommend that you use other sources of water, for example, bottled water for drinking.
What happens if Water is Too Hard?
When water boils down, the major difference between hard and soft water can best be seen while doing daily housework. Hard water is to blame for worn-out-looking clothes, dishes with spots and residue, and bathtubs with lots of film and soap scum. Soap is less effective due to its reaction to the magnesium and calcium that lather is not as rich and bubbly. Even hair washed in hard water may feel sticky and look dull. Hard water can take a toll on household appliances as well and use up more energy.
What are the benefits of soft water?
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.
What is Water Softening?
Water filtration systems work by flushing hard water through resin beads containing positively charged sodium and potassium ions. The sodium and potassium are released into the water as the resin beads attract the calcium and magnesium ions, which are also positively charged. The result of this exchange is softened water containing small amounts of sodium and potassium.
The benefits of water softeners are cleaner laundry, longer-lasting appliances, and no sticky soap buildup. Consumers use less laundry detergent and other types of cleaners and detergents. Clothing is brighter, and sinks, tubs, and showers require less cleaning.
Water appliances such as boilers, water heaters, and dishwashers typically run more efficiently and need less maintenance as soft water does not cause scale buildup in pipes and plumbing fixtures. Soft water users often report hair and skin feel less dry and flaky.
What kind of water do you have?
If you’ve been living with hard water for a while, you may be oblivious to its detrimental effects. Unsure if you need to soften your water? Look for these signs:
- Film or spots on your dishes, appliances, and clothing.
- Scale build-up around faucets or in appliances.
- Dull, flat hair.
- Dry, itchy skin.
- A layer of scum on hair and skin upon washing.
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