Difference between Hard Water and Soft Water: Which is better for Skin and Related Health Issues?

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The basic difference between hard water and soft water is that hard water has lots of minerals and dissolved salts, whereas soft water has very few to no minerals and lacks dissolved salts.

Chemically speaking, hard water is just defined as having a high mineral concentration. It is created by the percolation of chalk, gypsum, and limestone deposits. Many new studies have focused on hard water because of the potential health benefits that may be associated with it. On the other hand, magnesium and calcium salts are present in hard water. These can be found as bicarbonates, chlorides, and sulphates in water. On the other hand, soft water is devoid of dissolved salts and has little to no minerals. This article has examined the differences between soft and hard water as well as some examples of each.

Difference between Hard Water and Soft Water

The difference between hard water and soft water is as follows:

Hard WaterSoft Water
Hard Water has higher concentration of Magnesium (Mg2+) and Calcium ions (Ca2+)Soft Water has lower concentration of Magnesium (Mg2+) and Calcium ions (C a2+)
Has more mineral ImpuritiesHas fewer mineral Impurities
It can cause many side effects on human body (skin and hair)It doesn’t cause any side effects on human body
It can result in obstructions or deposits of scale as it passes through the plumbing unit.It does not result in obstructions or deposits of scale as it passes through the plumbing unit.
pH level is above 7pH level is below 7
Hard water is typically more alkaline than soft waterSoft water is more acidic than hard water
It tastes better than soft waterUsually tastes salty
It is not compatible with soap as it doesn’t produce latherIt is more compatible with soap as it produces lather
Can be used for drinking purposeIt is not recommended for drinking purpose
Sources of hard water are Wells, ground water, etc.Sources of soft water are rainwater, etc.
Used for Construction, Agriculture, Industrial Processes etc.Used for Household cleaning, bathing, cooking etc.

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What is Hard Water?

The World Health Organisation states that water with 60–120 mg/l of calcium carbonate is considered moderately hard, 120–180 mg/l is hard, and 180 mg/l or more is extremely hard. The hardness of the water can also be impacted by the minerals present in it. For example, in addition to minerals like calcium and magnesium, the presence of sulphates, carbonates, and bicarbonates of calcium and magnesium can also affect the hardness of the water. These dissolved polyvalent metallic ions include iron, aluminium, zinc, and strontium.

Properties of Hard Water

The following are some significant features of hard water:

  • Calcium and magnesium ions are abundant in hard water. These minerals can be found as magnesium carbonate (MgCO3) and calcium carbonate (CaCO3).
  • Hard water has a tendency to build scale deposits on pipes and other plumbing appliances when heated, which can reduce the equipment’s lifespan.
  • Furthermore, hard water becomes an extraordinary soap spoiler, generating insoluble soap scum that is difficult to lather up.
  • Hard water is therefore less user-friendly than soft water, even though it may be richer in minerals. Hard water can also be a pain in daily life.

What is Soft Water?

Soft water is characterised by its reduced mineral content, particularly in calcium and magnesium. It is well known that the ability of water to react with soap and produce lather is correlated with its hardness. Thus, the water that produces foam or lather might be classified as soft water. The World Health Organization defines soft water as having calcium carbonate in it at concentrations less than 60 mg/l.

Properties of Soft Water

Below is an explanation of a few aspects of soft water:

  • In nature, soft water lacks minerals. It can naturally arise in locations where calcium and magnesium are deficient. It is lacking in these mineral doses.
  • Sodium (Na+) and potassium (K+) may be present in place of calcium and magnesium. Moreover, we can create soft water by using softening techniques.
  • When used with soap, it creates a lather that improves its suitability for household tasks like washing and cleaning. More efficiently, soap dissolves and rinses away .
  • Although soft water doesn’t have the same geological flair as hard water, its adaptability and purity make it more useful in many contemporary scenarios where efficiency and cleanliness are crucial.

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How to identify between Hard and Soft Water?

One cannot tell if the water is hard or soft just by looking at it. Sometimes, what the water does to the items in the dishwasher or the washing machine can be used to identify between the two:

Signs of Hard Water

  1. Feeling a film grow on your hands following a hand wash. Soap scum is the result of the soap reacting with calcium. If the water is hard, you might need to cleanse your hands more thoroughly.
  2. Spots. When glasses and cutlery are taken out of the dishwasher, spots may show up. Usually, these are calcium carbonate deposits.
  3. Minerals Stains. When apparel comes out of the washing machine, these are visible on it. Hard water’s abrasive qualities can cause clothing to deteriorate more quickly.
  4. Less force of water in your house. Mineral deposits have the potential to accumulate in the pipes, effectively lowering water flow and decreasing the pipes’ internal diameter.

Signs of Soft Water

  1. A robust foam while cleaning your hands, body, and even your clothing.
  2. Garments that are less worn out, free of mineral stains, and require less maintenance.
  3. Sufficient water pressure within your house.
  4. A faint salt flavour in drinking water, though this variation in flavour is often undetectable.

Is there any health issues with Hard Water?

There aren’t any severe health issues with drinking hard water.

Hard water, however, can worsen dry skin and hair. Your scalp may become sensitive if you wash your hair often in hard water.

Additionally, the minerals in hard water can alter the pH balance of your skin, making it less effective as a barrier against infections and harmful microorganisms. Eczema patients might be particularly susceptible.

Is there any health issues with Soft Water?

Drinking soft water with lower quantities of calcium and magnesium is probably safe if these minerals are normally found in your diet.

The greater worry is for those with high blood pressure, as they may be more vulnerable to the effects of drinking water with more sodium.

Some people with high blood pressure may be advised not to soften their drinking water at home, just as they are advised not to add salt to their diet.

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Is drinking soft water beneficial for our lives?

Drinking soft water may be harmful for patients dealing with high blood pressure, as sodium is found in soft water. People with high blood pressure are advised not to drink soft water.

Can soft water be used for skin?

Yes, soft water makes the skin and hair more soft and so it can be used to cleanse your body.

How is hard water formed?

When flowing water passes through calcium and magnesium deposits including minerals like chalk, dolomite, and limestone, hard water is created. It has a lot of minerals because of this.

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