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Difference between Hard Water and Soft Water

You may have heard the terms hard water and soft water, but do you know what they mean? What type of water do you have in your home? Which one is better than another? Let us see how hard water differs from soft water!

Hard Water:

Hard water is the water that contains high concentrations of dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium. As the rainwater seeps through soil or rocks made up of compounds such as calcium or magnesium it picks up minerals from the soil and rocks. For example, when rainwater falls on limestone rocks which contain calcium carbonate (CaCO3) the water seeps through the limestone layers and the minerals are dissolved in the rainwater. After the water soaks up minerals it is said to be the hard water as it contains high concentration of calcium and magnesium ions. Thus, water passes through soft rocks and gathers minerals before reaching the water pipes for supply. Hard water is not necessarily unsafe to drink. It may provide moderate health benefits as it contains essential minerals that are good for health and has a natural water flavour

Hard water features:

  • It does not easily lather with soap.
  • It leaves a lot of scum in the bathtubs, sinks, shower etc.
  • When boiled it leaves some limescale residue, which can cause pipes to block over time
  • It may leave reddish brown stains on bathroom enamel surface or your clothes after laundry
  • Sediments are found at the bottom of water heaters and other appliances.

Soft Water:

Soft water is water that contains low concentration of ions like calcium and magnesium except sodium ions. Rainwater is the natural soft water. It remains soft water when it travels through hard rock like granite as it gathers only small amounts of minerals. This water is good for skin, washing clothes, dishes etc. Most of the surface water such as water in the lakes, rivers and collected rainwater is soft water.

Soft water features:

  • It easily lather with soap
  • It cleans dishes and clothes without leaving any residue.
  • It does not leave scum in bathtubs, shower and sinks.
  • It does not cause sediments buildup in dishwasher, heater and washing machine etc.

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between hard water and soft water are as follows:

Hard Water Soft Water
It contains significant amounts of minerals like calcium and magnesium. It contains low amounts of dissolved minerals like calcium, magnesium but contains sodium ions.
It is not suitable for washing, bathing etc. It is good for washing, bathing etc.
It is not good for skin. It does not harm the skin.
It affects the efficiency of dishwashers, washing machines, water heaters etc. It does not affect the efficiency of dishwashers, washing machines etc.
It produces scum in bathtubs, showers, sinks etc. It does not produce scum in bathtubs, shower, sinks etc.
It does not produce sediments at the bottom of water heater and other similar appliances. It produces sediments at the bottom of water heaters and similar appliances etc.
It tastes better than soft water. It is not pleasant to drink as it may taste salty.
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