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  • Writer's pictureAlcorn Pump & Water Filtration

Hard Water vs. Soft Water

Updated: Oct 13, 2022

And why you may want to add a water softener to your home...

What is Hard & Soft Water?

At some point in your life, you may have heard water being referred to as either "hard" or "soft." You may be questioning what determines the hardness or softness of the water and whether one type of water is better or safer to drink than the other.

Most water contains minerals and chemicals. The concentration of certain minerals is what creates the “hardness” of water. According to a US Geological Survey, hard water exists in over 85% of the United States. The hardness of water is determined primarily by the amount of calcium and magnesium it contains. Higher levels of these and other minerals define it as "hard."

Soft water has a reduced concentration of minerals - so instead of having higher levels of calcium and magnesium, it tends to have higher concentrations of sodium or salt.

What Are the Differences and Benefits?


The benefits:

While hard water can be damaging to your skin, hair, clothing, and dishes - it actually isn't

too bad for your health. Positive benefits have been found in drinking hard water, as calcium and magnesium help to improve heart function, digestion, and blood sugar regulation. Removing these minerals can potentially increase sodium levels in the water, which could be harmful to drink, especially to those with high blood pressure.

The downsides:

However, as mentioned above, hard water can have a negative effect on your skin and hair by leaving a build-up of soap residue. Because of the high mineral content, it will strip your natural oils and leave you feeling dry. Hard water can flair several skin conditions and lead to acne or even eczema. Dry, itchy skin, more frequent breakouts on your face and body, and lifeless, brittle hair are some of the effects of using hard water over time.

It also makes it difficult for your laundry machine to properly rinse the soap off of your clothes due to the build-up of minerals. This leaves soap residue on them - sometimes causing them to smell unclean, and could lead to rashes and allergies on your skin. For the same reasons, hard water causes soap scum buildup on your dishes, leaving them looking stained and cloudy.

However, we must mention the common misconception that hard water is bad for your pipes. Typically, if your home was built after 1975 or has been re-piped, hard water should cause no damage. But soft water may be safer on your plumbing if you live in a home built from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s that hasn’t been re-piped.


The benefits:

To summarize the many benefits, here is a

quick list of some of the main perks to using

soft water:

  • Dishes with no cloudy film

  • Softer clothes with less fading and wear

  • Use less soap and detergent

  • Tubs, sinks, and toilets are shiny and clean

  • Softer skin & fewer skin problems

  • Use less hot water to rinse

  • Clean, strong, shiny hair

  • Longer life for both small & major appliances

  • Lower energy bills

Overall, soft water is preferred for cleaning

and laundry, as it doesn’t tend to leave soap

build-up or mineral residue. Because it's more

efficient for cleaning, you may save money on

your water bill by not having to re-wash

clothes or dishes. Without calcium and

magnesium, soft water increases the

effectiveness of soap compared to hard water

which can inactivate the soap’s ingredients.

The downsides:

A key point to keep in mind while thinking of installing a

water softener, is that if you over-soften the water, it is

actually more corrosive and might shorten the life of

your home plumbing. Also, if you fail to properly maintain

your water-softener, it can let in bacteria and fungi in on

the resin of your system. Cleaning and maintaining the

equipment is vital to keeping your water safe!

Should You Get A Water Softener?

Some experts say consumers should use both hard and soft water. Soft water for

appliances and bathing, and hard water for drinking. If the sodium in soft water is a concern, you can try a different source for drinking and using your home’s soft water for laundry, dishwashing, and bathing.

With all the benefits soft water has, it may be worth looking at your options to add a softener to your appliance and shower water sources.

How To Get A Water Softener?

If you’re interested in softening your water, we are here to help! It’s important to understand the maintenance requirements of a water-softening system before you install one. We would love to walk you through this process and make sure this is the right thing for your family and home. Water softeners require ongoing maintenance to ensure healthy and safe water, but may be worth it for you!

We focus on installing water softeners to remove heavy metals like manganese, arsenic, nitrates, nitrites, and tannins. Get in contact with us if you have more questions and what it may look like for you to soften your water!

P.S. Get a PDF version of this blog here:

Hard Water vs. Soft Water (edited) (1)
Download PDF • 3.38MB

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