It will be no surprise if you tell me that you had no idea that the water coming out of your tap can either be soft or hard water. In this article, let’s tackle the difference between the two to give you the weapons you need to assess which option is best for you. 

More often than not, soft water is more preferable as opposed to hard water. This is the very reason why investing in water softener is a thing today. A water softener is simply what the name implies: it turns hard water to soft water. 

Despite soft water being the more desirable choice, both options come with their respective pros and cons.

Hard water

greyscale photography of cat beside faucet

Hard water is basically water that has not undergone any kind of chemical process. Drinking hard water is comparable to drinking rainfall. The reason behind it being termed as “hard” is because once the water seeps through the ground, it flows through mineral deposits and stones where it is filtered. 

Since hard water contains natural minerals, drinking it is believed to be beneficial. The minerals found in it mainly include calcium, magnesium, and iron. These minerals are proven to aid in the prevention of some types of cardiovascular conditions. This is the advantage of hard water since these minerals are not found in soft water.

On top of its health benefits, the minerals present in hard water add to its taste, and some seem to find this on the pleasant side. Although preference may vary, some actually prefer this over soft water’s lack of taste.

On the other end of the spectrum, one of the reported possible con of hard water is that it may cause scale build-up in the plumbing system which, in turn, affects the performance of household appliances.

Additionally, there have been studies that have found a slight correlation with ingesting hard water and children presenting with a skin condition called eczema. 

Since hard water came straight off the ground, the smell it gives off may range from being earthy to a strong, unpleasant scent of sulfur. To a lot of people, this is a huge turn-off, and this remains to be the most common reported reason why people refuse to drink hard water.

Soft Water

Soft water is hard water that has undergone ionization to remove the minerals present in it. Although soft water is a common household choice, experts believe that regular drinking of soft water may pose harm to the consumers. 

It has been reported that consumption of soft water regularly results in an increase in sodium (salt levels). Yes, sodium is an important element of a healthy and balanced diet, but as we know, anything in excess isn’t at all good. Excessive sodium may actually lead to cardiovascular anomalies and a common one is high blood pressure. An excess in sodium promotes water retention. If excessive water is present in the body, blood pressure will rise and the heart will be forced to work harder than normal. With the eating habits we have today, people are already ingesting too much sodium and drinking soft water furtherly aggravates this.

Due to the process hard water undergoes to become soft water, as well as the chemicals added to it, result in a more volatile water. The whole process may result in your tap water gaining unwanted elements along the way. One of the most dangerous elements that may contaminate your water is lead. Lead is known to have the capacity to pose harm to the blood cells and to the oxygenation of our muscles, bones, and organs. 

Excessive intake of soft water is reported to cause dehydration to the cells in our body. Once this event occurs, water movement through cellular walls will be obstructed. This causes disruption in the normal processes in our body.

Despite the disadvantages, the main reason people still choose to install water softeners is because treated water, such as soft water, prevents the build-up of scales on taps and appliances.

Hard water vs. soft water

white ceramic figurine on black table

As discussed, both options have their own pros and cons. Although experts recommend hard water rather than soft water, the advantages of drinking soft water can not be easily thrown out of the picture. With this, experts not suggest the utilization of a water softener with a water bypass valve system. This certain type of water softener lets water flow to areas where it can be useful for drinking and cooking. If this is not the case, then consider other sources of water such as bottled water.

How to distinguish between the two?

The easiest and most cost effective method to check if your water is hard or soft is to observe how it lathers on your soap. You may also look at your tub or the area surrounding the shower. 

Hard water results to:

  • soap creating a white film rather than the usual foamy lather
  • soap remaining on your skin and hair despite of rinsing efforts
  • white mineral scale present on surfaces that may build up in your pipes and eventually clog them

If this is the case, ingesting this type of water may pose some health risks in the long term. You may consider other options.

Hardness may not be forever

Some people find their soaps, shampoos, and detergents not lathering well despite being told that they have soft water. This is because of the hardening of your water temporarily because of the presence of bicarbonate minerals. To make your water soft, wait for the minerals to pass through the system or simply boil it.

What is so bad about hard water?

While hard water is said to be okay as a drink, the minerals found in it may cause some problems for your home, skin, and hair. Majority of these issues may not stir too much of a problem, but if you’re unlucky, you might find the need to call a plumber.

With hard water:

  • your hair always feels dirty
  • your hair loses its shine
  • your hair becomes dry
  • your hair may have dandruff
  • your skin becomes dry easily
  • your skin feels sticky
  • children may be at risk for eczema

When it comes to washing your clothes, hard water results in the wear and tear of your fabric, while soft water may leave residual detergent within the fibers. To find what works best for you takes trial and error.

We have established that hard water may induce blockages in your pipes that usually remain unnoticed until backing up begins. A plumber usually flushes out the mineral deposits to solve the issue. However, the majority of households only realize this when the problem is already quite difficult to solve. To prevent this, install a water softening system for your long-term convenience.

How to treat hard water?

A treatment system has the capacity to regulate your water so it does not become too hard or too soft. Installing this makes you water at home incredibly safe for drinking and problem-free for washing. 

If you’re not willing to shell out money for a water treatment system (a softener or a filter system), we hope you’d think again. Having clear and unclogged pipes will save you from spending for plumbing fees and safe drinking water will save you from the costs of hospital trips, which we all know are far from being cheap. To summarize, installing one is actually some savings in the making. 

If you can’t afford a water treatment system for the whole house yet, you may try installing a simple shower head water softener first!

Final words

We hope you’ve picked up a thing or two from this article. Whether you choose soft or hard water for your family is entirely up to you as long as your choice is backed up by research. Remember, safety first!