NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  Learn More.

Hard water Vs Soft water

Soft Water vs Hard Water – What’s the Difference Between the Two?

This post explains the REAL differences between hard vs. soft water.

Hard Water

Soft Water vs Hard Water

Hard water is water that has not undergone any chemical treatment.  It is the most natural water you can drink - it’s the nearest thing to rain.

Before you get it through your tap, however, the water seeps through the ground where rocks filter it and pick up mineral residue during the ride. These minerals are what make your water “hard.”

The main benefit of drinking hard water is that it includes natural minerals your body needs such as calcium, iron, and magnesium.

Research indicates that the presence of these minerals in drinking water can be helpful in fighting and preventing certain cardiovascular and heart diseases. This is undoubtedly the main advantage of drinking hard water.

In addition to the health benefit of drinking hard water, these minerals also improve the flavor. Of course, the flavor is subjective, and there's no means of measuring personal taste. But lots of folks choose to have a hard water source for drinking separate from the cleaning water supplied through a water softener.

The primary drawback with hard water is the scale build-up you get in your plumbing system which lowers/damages the efficiency of water-consuming household appliances.

Concerning drinking hard water, some studies indicate a slight connection between drinking hard water and eczema, although there isn't concrete evidence to conclude that there's a clear cause-and-effect.

The primary reason most people are put off by hard water is the odor. Due to the mineral content, hard water often gives off smells ranging from earthy to a strong sulfurous odor. This is the main reason some do NOT like hard water for drinking.

Soft Water

Soft Water vs Hard Water

Soft water is actually the hard water which has had its minerals eliminated/removed using an ionization or crystallization process.

People who consume soft water regularly may increase their sodium (salt) levels. Although sodium is an essential part of a balanced diet, when taken in excess it can cause some people cardiovascular health issues such as high blood pressure.

The body responds to excessive sodium through water retention. If a person retains too much water, it raises their blood pressure as the heart works faster to supply blood to the entire body.

The average person already absorbs an excessive amount of sodium, so drinking soft water is only going to worsen this issue.

Because of the chemicals used to turn hard water soft, soft water is more chemically reactive so it will pick up chemicals and minerals as it flows through your pipes before it comes through your tap.

Elements like lead more readily seep into soft water, which can make soft drinking water harmful in homes with lead pipes (not common today). Lead damages blood cells and inhibits oxygen transport to the organs, bone, and muscles.

Soft water in excess impacts not only your whole body, but also your individual cells. When your cells become dehydrated from high sodium levels, it restricts water movement through cell walls.

The reason most people put in water softeners is to prevent scaling builds up on faucets and kitchen appliances, not to treat their drinking water.

Soft Water vs Hard Water: Which is Better?

Soft Water vs Hard Water

Many experts suggest that regarding consumption, hard water is far superior to soft water.

However, the benefits of soft water can't be ignored. It's because of this that many experts suggest that people who do use a water softener install a water bypass valve. This lets the hard water to flow to specific areas so that it can be used for drinking and cooking. If not, then other sources of water must be found, such as bottled water.

Do You Have Hard Water or Soft Water In Your Home?

The simplest way to know if you have hard or soft water is by looking at the lather on your soap.

A lack of lathering is an excellent tell that you're dealing with hard water.

Also, look at your utensils, sink, and virtually anything the water touches after it dries. If you see spots and streaks on your glassware and plates, then your water is hard.

Hard water causes:

Soap to make a white film rather than a foamy lather

Soap to stay on your hair and skin rather than rinsing off cleanly

You may also notice the difference between these two kinds of water by looking at your bathtub or shower walls.

Hard water leaves a white mineral scale on hard/non-porous surfaces. These scales are composed of calcium and magnesium deposits which can build up in your pipes and clog them.

Hard Water Might Be Temporary

Soft Water vs Hard Water

It is not difficult for people to be told that they have soft water, only to discover later on that their soaps, shampoos, and detergents do not lather well.

This occurs when you get a temporary hardening of your water.

When your water gets hard, it is because there are bicarbonate minerals dissolved in it. The water can be made soft by boiling or by merely waiting for the crystals to pass through your system.

Why Do People Not Prefer Hard Water?

Hard Water Problem

Minerals present in your water can cause many issues within your home.

While hard water may be okay to drink, it's not healthy for your skin and hair.

Some of those issues are of no real consequence, but a number of these issues may need consideration by professional plumbers.

Your hair:

  • Never feels clean
  • Loses its shine;
  • Dries out and may cause dandruff

Your skin:

  • Some children may develop eczema
  • Feels sticky
  • Dries out quickly

Washing clothes in hard water can destroy the fabric over time by breaking it down due to the action of mineral crystals and the lack of cleaning action from your soap.

On the other hand, washing clothes in soft water may leave a residue of detergent inside the fibers.

Again, it is essential to find middle ground if you would like clean clothes without harm.

The most costly problem caused by hard water is the scale build up in your pipes that you don't notice until they start to back up.

These mineral deposits have to be flushed out by a plumber to reduce damage to your plumbing.

Unfortunately, many homeowners do not know that this build up is taking place until actual problems happen.

The installation of a water softener will counteract and prevent this scale from ever developing, and reduce (if not obliterate) the adverse effects of hard water.

Fixing Hard Water

Water Softener

No matter whether your water is too hard or too soft, a treatment system can regulate your water, which makes it perfect for your loved ones.

When you've installed a water softener system in your house, your water is made safe for drinking and is more ideal for washing clothes and dishes.

When you think how much better your water is to your family as well as the cost-savings you may experience with clean pipes,​water softener system​​​ obtaining a water treatment system installed (like a filter or filter system) on your home is cheaper than you think.

I hope you now have a good feel for the difference between hard water and soft water.

Each of the two has pros and cons, and it could be argued you would want both in your home - as long as the mineral levels in your hard water are kept under control.

If you think you have hard water coming into your home, we strongly recommend installing a water softener system to feed your water-consuming appliances.

Ed Carmichael

About the Author Ed Carmichael

Ed is a water specialist in Tampa, FL. He built to help his friends and family learn about DIY solutions to common water quality issues in the home.

follow me on:

Leave a Comment: