Hard vs. Soft Water: Which is Better?

What the hay is hard water and soft water? Isn’t water just… wet? In this article, we learn more about the differences (Hint: It has nothing to do with how it feels) between hard and soft water.

Hard vs. Soft Water Explained

Rain water or purified water is soft water. The water that comes from our municipal water treatment works travels through a network of pipes and over rocks – all of which contain different compounds. The two most common elements in hard water are calcium and magnesium. Those elements are generally helpful, but in the wrong concentrations, it can:

Result in poor lathering of soap, shampoo and detergents.

Leave behind soap scum and white deposits on your sinks, shower doors and bathtubs.

Cause pipes to block due to limescale residue.

Ferrous irons in the water can cause reddish-brown discoloration on your laundry, enamel surfaces in your bathroom, and possibly on your hair.

While calcium and magnesium (in the correct concentrations) are good for your teeth and bones, the incorrect concentration can actually be harmful to your health. If your hard water contains lead and copper, it can be toxic, according to many research studies. Most types of hard water also contains lime and chalk.

Some people prefer the taste of hard water to the more bland, sometimes mildly salty taste of soft water. But that’s not the reason why we soften our water. The main reason for using a water softener, is to alleviate the many negative effects that water has on your household, including damaging your appliances, and the fact that you have to use more detergents and soap for even less efficiency. Using more soap also damages the environment.

Softening Hard Water
Softening Hard Water

Sometimes, hard water is temporary. This usually happens when the heating coils in your boiler develops calcium deposits. The boiler will become inefficient and consume more energy. This problem can be fixed by servicing the hot water heater.

If you have permanent hard water, it can be made soft by adding sodium carbonate to the water. The magnesium and calcium ions in the hard water react with sodium to leave behind the limescale, which can cause the pipes at your home to clog.

A better option would be to use ion exchange columns to deliver water that contains sodium ions rather than calcium without leaving behind limescale residue or precipitate.

While soft water may not be as sweet as hard water due to the fact that it doesn’t contain magnesium and calcium, it is much more effective at cleaning your kitchen, bathroom, clothes and body. In places with very soft water, you may feel as though you have not rinsed your hair properly, while hard water will rinse away soap, but leave behind its own residue of limescale and soap scum.

A water softener is a great plumbing installation that offers many fantastic benefits. If you need advice on whether to install a water softener, or even just a countertop water filtration system, speak to Anta Plumbing. We have worked with clients in the greater Toronto area for years and we can give you the best advice.

Written by Tanya Klien

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