To most people, water is just water. They rarely think twice about it being anything other than water and really have no reason to, do they? Well, not really, but you may be interested to learn that water actually falls into two different categories. There’s hard water, and there’s soft water.
What Is Hard Water?
By the way in which these two types are categorized, you might think that there’s a tangible difference, but their differences actually have nothing to do with how the water feels. It’s just a difference in mineral content. Now, most of the water supply in the U.S. is hard water. This is due to the fact that it comes from groundwater. Groundwater is rainwater that has fallen and seeped into the ground where it reaches an aquifer. From there, it becomes part of a water source for wells and springs. It becomes hard water because it picks up minerals from the rocks as it seeps through the ground and becomes naturally purified. It picks up minerals like lime, sulfur, calcium, and magnesium, and when that concentration builds to one grain per gallon, then it is categorized as hard.
While there are pros and cons to both hard and soft water, hard water typically tastes better because of the mineral content. The minerals found in hard water have also shown to be beneficial to our health because our bodies need magnesium and calcium.
The downside, however, is that these minerals leave deposits behind in our bathtubs, showers and sinks. This scale buildup can corrode pipes over time and can prevent appliances like water heaters and washing machines from working efficiently, as the hard water shortens the lifespan of appliances and affects the heat conductivity in water heaters and boilers. The minerals found in hard water can also leave stains and spots on dishes, glassware, tubs and sinks, even lead to the deterioration of fabrics and clothing.
Then, we have soft water. Soft water carries very few traces of the above-mentioned minerals. It’s usually water that has been collected from the surface, such as that found in lakes, rivers, basins, etc., before seeping into the ground.
One of the great benefits of soft water is that it’s better for your skin, because it doesn’t contain any irritating minerals or leave a film that dries skin out. Soft water is much better for lathering soaps and tends to rinse cleaner than hard water, thus removing soap with much greater ease. It also helps washing machines and dishwashers work more effectively, because you don’t have to use as much detergent. This means that clothes are cleaner, brighter and softer longer.
With soft water, you ultimately save money because you require fewer cleaning supplies, appliances enjoy a longer lifespan, and you don’t have to buy and replace clothes as often because there’s no worry of fabric deterioration from hard water minerals. The only real downside to soft water is that it doesn’t taste very good. Most people say that it tastes flat. And if you’re using a water softener, soft water can even taste salty.
At Tritan Plumbing, we are your water experts! If you have any questions or concerns about your water supply, give us a call today. We’re ready to assist!