What’s the Difference Between Soft and Hard Water?

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Everyone hears the term soft water, and also hears the term hard water, all the time. However, does anyone truly know what the difference is between soft and hard water? We just know there is a difference, and one is often better than the other for our plumbing.

If you can never remember what the difference is between soft water or hard water; or, you forget which is best for your home’s plumbing, boy do we have a great resource for you!

What is Soft Water?

Soft water contains few elements, and pretty much only contains sodium ions. If you collect rainwater, it’s naturally soft. It hasn’t picked up any other minerals from groundwater. We know what you’re thinking “who collects rainwater to use for their home”? The answer: most don’t. However, there are ways to treat hard water to make it soft.

Benefits of Soft Water

Many people prefer soft water as it is more efficient for cleaning. Soft water is known to taste like salt, and people don’t want to drink it. People with high blood pressure shouldn’t drink soft water, because of the higher sodium content. However, the fact that soft water works better with laundry detergents, soaps, and shampoos, makes it the preferred water choice for most people.

Soft water rinses and doesn’t leave a film behind. Why does it rinse well? It doesn’t have any minerals in it that interact with soaps and detergents. Appliances don’t have to work as hard to clean and rinse clothes, and dishes, it saves energy, which saves money. It also cuts down on the wear and tear of your appliances, which helps extend the life of all your cleaning appliances.

Another amazing benefit soft water provides: softer hair and skin. Once you switch to soft water, you’ll notice you don’t feel a weird film on your hair and skin after your showers.

What is Hard Water?

Hard water has minerals in it. When it travels through the ground, and into our waterways, it naturally picks up lime, calcium, and magnesium. It’s actually good for your health, which is what makes it appealing to drink.

Other than the health benefit, hard water doesn’t provide an abundance of benefits as far as saving money.

How Do Soft Water and Hard Water Affect Plumbing?

Hard water running through pipes causes quite a few issues for homeowners. Soft water running through pipes definitely helps keep your plumbing in better condition.

Hard water causes build up of limescale on everything water comes in contact with. The areas you see, sure, there are products to clean off shower tiles, bathtubs, toilets, sinks, etc. However, cleaning the buildup of minerals in your pipes isn’t as easy.

Over time, the build up from just the hard water causes clogged drains. Even worse though is most soaps and detergents react to hard water minerals and cause soap scum to also build up. Double the build up of minerals and soap scum means more clogged pipes, which affects all your drains, and your toilets.

Soft water is kinder to your pipes, and adds life to your appliances, along with your skin and hair. However, most homes have hard water, not soft water, and homeowners aren’t even aware of the potential problems hard water will throw their way.

What is the hard water solution for your home?

Homeowners often install water softener filters on shower heads to improve their hair and skin, which is great. It will save you money, since you’ll take less time in the shower rinsing off soap and shampoo. However, it doesn’t help your actual plumbing.

You’ll want to bring in a professional plumber to assess your plumbing situation, and you’ll be able to decide what the best solution is to upgrade your water treatment system in your home. It all starts with a water quality test, and then deciding if a reverse osmosis system, whole house water filtration system, water purification system, or a water softener treatment, is the best choice for your home (and budget).

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