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

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It’s commonly recommended that you drink between six and eight 8 oz glasses of water per day.

What’s often missing from that recommendation is the type of water you should be drinking. So does hard water vs. soft water really matter? And what’s the difference between them?

Most American households have hard water, so these questions aren’t something to be ignored. In this article, we’re talking about the qualities of hard vs. soft water, the safety of both, and other qualities to consider. Keep reading to learn all that and more.

Hard Water vs. Soft Water

When water falls from the sky in the form of rain or snow, it’s naturally soft. But as it moves through the ground, it soaks up minerals.

This is how our drinking water comes to contain minerals such as calcium and magnesium. The concentration of calcium and magnesium in water determines its hardness.

Hard water is graded on a scale, based on its calcium carbonate content.

  • Soft – 0 to 60 milligrams per liter
  • Moderately hard – 61 to 120 milligrams per liter
  • Hard – 121 to 180 milligrams per liter
  • Very hard – more than 180 milligrams per liter ‌‌

As we can see, the higher the concentration of calcium carbonate, the higher the rank on the hard water scale.

Are Hard and Soft Water Safe?

Calcium and magnesium are actually essential minerals. Meaning, these are minerals that your body requires to stay healthy. For that reason, some people prefer drinking hard water.

However, some hard water contains minerals at levels that are too high for safe consumption. While your body does need calcium and magnesium, too much of either may cause an increased risk of some health conditions.

Considering that nearly 90% of US households contain hard water, it might be a good idea to check the hardness level of your water. If you find your water contains unsafe levels, consider installing a new water softener.

Other Reasons to Soften Water

Even if your water isn’t hard enough to be posing any health risks, you may consider installing a water softener.

The magnesium and calcium in hard water can react with chemicals in household products like soap and detergent. The end result is that these products can’t lather or rinse as well. If you have a buildup of residue on dishes, bathtubs, and faucets, hard water may be to blame.

What’s worse than the grimy residue left behind on household items and appliances is the buildup that hard water leaves inside pipes and plumbing systems. Buildup can also occur inside items like water heaters, which can lead to costly repairs.

More of the Latest on Your Home

A large majority of US homes have hard water. While there’s some stigma around hard water, the truth is that it poses no risk to your health at lower levels. However, it may pose a risk to your home in the form of mineral buildup on household items, appliances, and plumbing systems, which is worth considering.

And for more things to consider in your kitchen and bath, be sure to check out these two sections of our blog and discover more of the latest information and trends.

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