You’ve probably heard of the term “soft water” before but you might not be sure just what that means. What makes some water soft while other water hard? Is one healthier than the other?
Although the water that comes out of your faucet may appear to be crystal clear, it contains various chemicals and minerals. The concentration of certain minerals can make your water harder or softer.
Are you interested in learning what is soft water? And how it differs from hard water? If so, then continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know!
What’s the Difference Between Soft Water and Hard Water?
When it comes to soft water vs hard water, the amount of magnesium and calcium in your water is what’s going to determine how hard or soft the water is. You can also reduce the concentrations of minerals in your water by using a water softening system. You can see some of the top systems here.
Soft water tends to have higher concentrations of sodium (salt) instead of magnesium and calcium.
How Can You Determine If Your Water Is Soft or Hard?
You typically can’t tell if your water is soft or hard just by looking at it. Sometimes, the way that your water feels and the effects it has on certain items can give you an indication.
If you feel a film on your hands after washing them, this can mean that your water is too hard. That’s because the soap is reacting with calcium and creating soap scum.
Spots on silverware and glasses that come out of the dishwasher can also indicate hard water. These tend to be made of calcium carbonate deposits. Mineral stains might also show up on your clothes after you remove them from your washing machine.
Perhaps, worst of all, mineral deposits from hard water can form in your pipes. This can shrink the diameter of your pipes and lead to reduced water flow.
Soft water is going to provide you with a healthy lather when washing your dishes, clothes, and hands. Your clothes will appear cleaner and there might be a slight taste of salt in your drinking water.
Are There Any Health Risks Associated With Soft Water?
If you already include enough magnesium and calcium in your diet, then there isn’t a risk in drinking water that has lower concentrations of these minerals. If you have deficiencies in your diet, then you might just need to take a multivitamin or magnesium or calcium supplements to satisfy your daily requirements.
Perhaps a bigger concern with drinking soft water is for people who have high blood pressure. That’s because people who have high blood pressure might be susceptible to the effects of higher sodium content, which can possibly raise their blood pressure even more.
Similar to how people are sometimes advised against having too much salt in their diet, they might also be advised against softening the drinking water in their homes.
Soft water can also more likely pick up lead from the inside of old water pipes that haven’t been treated.
What Are the Benefits of Soft Water?
Soft water tends to be better for cleaning because it won’t leave mineral stains or cause soap scum. Because it’s a better cleaning agent than hard water, you could potentially save money on your water bill. This is because you won’t have to re-wash your dishes and clothes or take longer showers in order to get fully cleaned.
Softer water in the shower can also leave your skin and hair feeling softer and more refreshed.
What Is Water Softening?
When you install a water softening system in your home, it will work by running hard water through a resin. Resin is a sticky material from certain plants and trees. This resin is coated with positively charged sodium ions, which are molecules that have a net electric charge.
Essentially, the calcium and magnesium will be replaced in the water by concentrations of sodium. Water softening systems need ongoing maintenance. You’ll also have to add sodium pellets continuously in order to make sure that the resin remains electrically charged.
Some water softening systems might use potassium pellets instead of sodium ones. There are also other systems that use citric acid, magnets, or other ways to reduce the amount of magnesium and calcium concentrations in the water.
Is Water Softening Safe?
Fungi and bacteria can form on the resin of a system that softens the water. This is why the maintenance and cleaning of equipment are so important to make sure that your water stays safe.
An even bigger concern is the added sodium in your drinking water. If you’re on a low sodium diet, you should express these concerns with your water softener manufacturer.
And if your house has an old and untreated plumbing system, then you should get your water tested for lead and other toxins. Many public water utilities will conduct these tests for little or no cost.
The Importance of Knowing What Is Soft Water
As we can see, there are several important differences between soft water and hard water. And by knowing what is soft water, you can make more confident and informed decisions about the health and safety of your home and the people who live in it. Before you decide to get a water softener, you should get your water tested and see how hard it is and what minerals are most present in it.
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