Water 101: Knowing the Difference Between Hard and Soft Water

Water 101: Knowing the Difference Between Hard and Soft Water

Hard and soft water: you’ve heard those terms thrown around before, but what do they mean? As it turns out, there’s really only one key difference between the two – and no, it’s not that hard water is just another name for ice, you jokester. Both types of water have certain benefits and drawbacks, and that can make it tough to decide between which you’d want depending on what you value more.

But, have no fear. To simplify the process, we’ve provided a quick and easy guide to the ins and outs of hard and soft water – what they are, what makes them different, and the pros and cons to each. Water softening is an investment many families elect to undertake, and if you think it’s something your home would benefit from, give us a call! We’re proud to offer comprehensive water-softening services, and our trained technicians can recommend the proper route to take to help you out.

Hard Water Is…What?

Despite what might pop into your mind when you hear the term “hard water,” there isn’t anything turning it into a solid form of water. What makes hard water hard is the presence of certain minerals like magnesium and calcium, which accumulate as the water travels through ground where minerals are present.

  • The Water Quality Association has a scale it uses to determine the hardness of water. Anything with less than one grain of calcium carbonate equivalent per gallon is labeled soft water, and it gradually increases from there.
  • 1-3.5 grains per gallon is slightly hard water, 3.5-7 grains per gallon is moderately hard, 7.0-10.5 is labeled hard, and anything with greater than 10.5 grains per gallon is very hard.

Soft Water, on the other hand, is simply the opposite. It’s water that isn’t enriched with those minerals, and as such, has noticeable differences when it comes to practical use.

  • The magnesium and calcium add taste to hard water, which is what you’re drinking when you see ‘Mineral Water’ in stores. These minerals also bind to soap easier, making hard water more effective when you’re taking a bath or shower.
  • However, the minerals in hard water aren’t great for everything. They can build up in your pipes and appliances, leaving behind a hard substance called scale. Scale reduces the efficiency by these pieces in the infrastructure of your home, but it’s not harmful to your health.
  • Soft water’s lack of minerals makes it better to use for practical, non-consumption purposes, but its tendency to struggle at removing soap makes it less than ideal for pumping through into your shower as it’s likely you won’t feel completely clean once you step out.

So, Which One Is Better?

Awarding either hard or soft water the official title of “Better Water” wouldn’t make sense. They each perform certain tasks much better than the other, so saying one is objectively worse is more of a half-truth. If you’re washing clothes, soft water works better, but most people prefer hard water to drink.

Always Plumbing & Heating offers water-softening service which includes water testing, professional recommendations and complete, quick installation to fit your budget. Give us a call at 780-489-8118 (Edmonton) and 587-601-1253 (Fort McMurray) and schedule an inspection!

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