Recently I have been considering a more eco-friendly approach to products we use around the house. As I research different homemade cleaners and detergents, one issue continues to come up: hard versus soft water. Evidently, the type of water affects many areas of our daily lives. So, what is the difference between soft and hard water and how do these differences impact the way we live?
What is hard water?
Before we can discuss the differences, we need to understand our terms. So what makes water hard (other than cold temperatures)? The term hard water refers to the amount of minerals present in the water. The main minerals that make water “hard” are calcium and magnesium. As water comes into contact with rocks and soil, it tends to pick up these minerals – making it hard. On the flip side, soft water is water that contains a low concentration of minerals.
What are the differences between hard water and soft water?
Any time you run your faucet, you will deal with the presence or absence of minerals in your water. If you are turning on your water for a drink, hard water can impact the taste. If you are using water to cook, hard water can leave spots on your dishes. If you are using water to clean, hard water diminishes the effectiveness of soaps and detergents
Overall, when dealing with hard water, two primary concerns are prevalent:
- Hard water makes cleaning more difficult due to its reaction with detergents and soaps.
- Hard water can clog your pipes as a result of mineral buildup over time.
What can you do to minimize the effects of hard or soft water?
If you have very hard water, you might want to consider installing a water softener. This will help minimize the effects of the minerals. If your water is only marginally hard, the key compensations are to use a little more soap and periodically have your pipes checked for buildup.