Kitchen Tips

Hard Water vs. Soft Water: What’s the Difference?

Hard Water vs. Soft Water

Water is way more complex than it may appear. Contrary to what most people assume, water is not just water as it is available in various types. However, the two main categories are hard and soft water.

Although soft water is the most commonly used option, this does not necessarily mean it is better than hard water. Each of the types has its merits and shortcoming, and here we explain them in more detail by looking at how the two water types differ.

Overall Findings

Hard Water

Soft Water

  • Abundant in minerals like calcium, magnesium, and manganese
  • Feeling of residue on skin & hair
  • Leaves mineral stains or soap scum when cleaning
  • Good mineral flavor & provides tons of health benefits
  • Low in minerals like calcium but high in sodium
  • Feels soft to the touch
  • Efficient & effective cleaning agent
  • Tastes a little salty & offers little health benefits

Hard Water

  • Abundant in minerals like calcium, magnesium, and manganese
  • Feeling of residue on skin & hair
  • Leaves mineral stains or soap scum when cleaning
  • Good mineral flavor & provides tons of health benefits

Soft Water

  • Low in minerals like calcium but high in sodium
  • Feels soft to the touch
  • Efficient & effective cleaning agent
  • Tastes a little salty & offers little health benefits

Hard Water vs. Soft Water

1. What Is It: Mineral Rich vs. Mineral Deficient Water

Hard water is characterized by a high quantity of dissolved minerals, with calcium and magnesium being the most common. Other minerals you will typically find in hard water include manganese and iron. However, the higher the quantity of magnesium and calcium in the water, the higher the hardness.

Although rainwater is naturally soft as it falls, it gets some hardness as it falls into the soil, rivers, and lakes. The surroundings around these water bodies and bedrocks have extensive mineral deposits that filter into the water.

Soft water is the naturally occurring form of water, and it is free of the harsh minerals you get on hard water. But while it might be low in calcium and magnesium, soft water still contains high amounts of sodium, which gives it a salty taste. You can get this naturally occurring water in rainwater, icebergs, and glaciers or create it by softening hard water.

2. Feel: Soft Water Feel Soft to the Touch

The feel of these two water types also varies significantly. Soft water has a soft feel to the touch, making it more ideal for showering and cleaning stuff. Besides the soft feel, soft water will also not damage appliances or surfaces.

Hard water leaves a feeling of residue on hands and hair after washing them. While the feel is already annoying enough, things can still worsen with hard water as it can dry the skin, harm your hair and even trigger eczema.

3. Benefits: Hard Water Packs a Myriad of Health Benefits

The high concentration of minerals in hard water ensures it packs various benefits. One of the first ones is it gives the water a nice flavor that makes it easier for most people to drink. Additionally, most of the minerals in the hard water are essential for the body and so drinking the water can ensure you meet your daily intake requirements.

Also, there is some speculation that taking hard water can come with cardiovascular benefits. An article published on National Center for Biotechnology Information looks into this claim, but there is still no conclusive evidence.

Since soft water does not contain many minerals, it will not come with any significant health benefits besides keeping your body hydrated when you drink. However, it is also good for your skin and hair as it does not dry or damage them.

Additionally, soft water is more efficient and effective at cleaning and can save you money on water bills as you do not have to re-wash things to remove mineral stains.

4. Potential Issues: Hard Water Can Be More Problematic

Despite having more health benefits, hard water also has many potential issues, unlike soft water. Hard water often causes scaling as it leaves limescale deposits in appliances. Also, it can discolor clothes and stain your water fixtures.

The low mineral content in soft water can lead to mineral deficiencies if you do not supplement your diet with the essential minerals the body needs. Another potential issue that comes with soft water is the high sodium levels. The sodium gives the water a salty taste and can increase your risk of heart failure, kidney disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

Conclusion

For most people, drinking either hard or soft water should not have any adverse health effects. Both water types still have potential issues, such as mineral stains from hard water and the impact of high sodium levels in soft water for some people.

However, the good news is that hard water can be softened. You can also counter the potential effects of sodium in soft water with a potassium-based water softening system.

Sources

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