Hard Water vs. Soft Water - Which Is Better?

Did you know that hard water exists? You turn on your tap, and water comes out, and you might think it's soft water because it flows like a liquid, but whether or not water is soft, or hard, is all based on the minerals found in your water.

While the minerals that make your water hard are not harmful, you may not like the taste. Plus, hard water tends to impact your water-using appliances over time, such as your kettle or your iron.

What is Hard Water?

Hard water contains a high concentration of dissolved minerals, predominantly calcium and magnesium. These minerals are naturally present in the environment and enter water sources by dissolving rocks and soil. The hardness of water is determined by the amount of these minerals present.

One of the noticeable effects of hard water is its reduced ability to lather with soap or detergent. The minerals in hard water react with soap, forming soap scum that can leave a residue on dishes, clothes, and skin. 

Hard water can also impact the performance and lifespan of water-using appliances. The mineral scale can build up inside appliances such as water heaters, dishwashers, and washing machines, reducing their efficiency and longevity.

What’s Soft Water?

Soft water refers to water with a low concentration of dissolved minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium. Unlike hard water, soft water does not leave behind mineral deposits or scale when heated or evaporated. It is often desirable for various household and industrial applications.

Soft water can occur naturally in certain regions where the water source has minimal contact with mineral deposits or geological formations rich in calcium and magnesium. However, soft water is more commonly achieved through water treatment processes that remove or reduce the concentration of these minerals.

What’s the Difference Between Hard & Soft Water?

Formation of Mineral Deposits:

Hard Water: Hard water forms mineral deposits or limescale when heated or evaporated due to the high concentration of dissolved calcium and magnesium.

Soft Water: Soft water does not form mineral deposits or limescale when heated or evaporated due to its low concentration of dissolved minerals.

Soap and Detergent Efficiency:

Hard Water: Hard water reduces the lathering and cleaning efficiency of soap and detergent due to the reaction between the minerals and soap, resulting in soap scum formation and residue on surfaces.

Soft Water: Soft water enhances the lathering and cleaning efficiency of soap and detergent, as it does not form soap scum or leave behind residue on surfaces.

Impact on Appliances:

Hard Water: Hard water can lead to mineral scale buildup inside appliances like water heaters, dishwashers, and washing machines, reducing their efficiency, increasing energy consumption, and potentially causing malfunctions.

Soft Water: Soft water helps maintain the efficiency and prolong the lifespan of water-using appliances by preventing mineral scale buildup, resulting in energy savings, lower maintenance costs, and improved appliance performance.

Plumbing System Effects:

Hard Water: Hard water can cause mineral deposits and scale accumulation in pipes and fittings, potentially reducing water flow, clogs, and corrosion issues over time.

Soft Water: Soft water helps to prevent mineral buildup in plumbing systems, reducing the likelihood of clogs, maintaining water flow, and minimising corrosion, thus promoting the longevity and health of the plumbing infrastructure.

Taste and Sensory Perception:

Hard Water: Hard water may have a distinct taste or odour due to dissolved minerals, which can affect the flavour of beverages and food prepared with it.

Soft Water: Soft water typically has no distinct taste or odour, allowing for a more neutral flavour profile in beverages and food.

Is Hard or Soft Water Better for Drinking?

Hard water contains minerals like calcium and magnesium, which can contribute to the taste of the water. The minerals in hard water can provide some dietary benefits, as they contribute to the daily intake of essential minerals. However, it's worth noting that the mineral content in hard water is generally not a significant source of these minerals in one's diet.

Soft water, on the other hand, has a lower mineral content due to the removal or reduction of calcium and magnesium ions. Soft water is often considered more neutral in taste and can be preferred by those who find hard water taste undesirable. Soft water may also be preferred for certain beverages like tea and coffee, as it allows the flavours to come through without interference from minerals.

Ultimately, the choice between hard and soft water for drinking comes down to personal preference. Some individuals may enjoy the taste and benefits of hard water, while others may prefer the neutrality of soft water.

Do You Have Hard or Soft Water at Home?

There are a few ways you can test for the hardness of your water.

  • Water Testing Kit: You can purchase a kit to measure water hardness. These kits usually contain test strips or reagents that change colour based on the mineral content in the water.
  • Soap Lather Test: Another simple method is to observe the lathering properties of soap or detergent when mixed with water. Take a clean container and add a few drops of liquid soap or a small amount of detergent. Shake or agitate the container to create suds. If the water is hard, the soap will produce minimal lather and may form a scum or residue. In contrast, soft water will produce abundant lather and minimal residue.
  • Water Hardness Map: You can also check your local water utility's website or contact them to obtain information on the general hardness level of the water in your area. Many water utilities provide reports or maps indicating the average hardness of the supplied water.

The hardness of your water can change over time, so we recommend testing it regularly.

Filter Your Hard Water with Aquasafe

Aquasafe has water softening systems that can be installed in your house to remove the minerals from your water, making it taste more neutral and safe for your kettle and iron. 

If you want more information about how Aquasafe can help you with water filters, coolers, boilers and more, drop by our contact page and leave us a message.