Hard vs Soft Water Explained

Hard water is simply water containing minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

Soft water is treated, filtered water containing no minerals except for sodium.

Water from rainfall is naturally soft. As rainwater filters through the Earth and into our drinking water supplies, it naturally picks up certain minerals. These minerals are ,for the most part, essential and are sometimes preferred over soft drinking water. Some mixtures of hard water also tase better!


So why do we soften our water?

Tap water is not normally used for drinking – it’s main use is for cleaning. Hard water is the main culprit for smudged looking glassware, mineral buildup around our faucets, and the scum that accumulates around your bathtub. Even taking a shower in hard water can be a bit less pleasant that soft water. Hard water can also be less energy efficient by making your dishwasher and washing machines work harder.

Soft water is a dream for those who like cleaning their homes. Soap lathers better in soft water, and there is much less buildup around the house to have to clean up in the first place. Even your clothes and skin will feel soft.


How do you get the advantages of both hard and soft water?

Soft water is not recommended for those who need to watch their sodium and need to supplement other lifesaving minerals into their diets. The softening process adds sodium into the water and removes all other minerals.

You can combat the sodium in soft water by reverse osmosis, distillation, and deionization.


How do you know if you have hard or soft water?

The degree of hardness standard as established by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (S-339) and the Water Quality Association (WQA) is:

Degree of Hardness Grains per Gallon (gpg) ppm (or mg/L)
 Soft <1.0 <17.0
Slightly Hard 1.0-3.5 17.1-60
Moderately Hard 3.5-7.0 60-120
Hard 7.0-10.5 120-180
Very Hard >10.5 >180