Hard Water: Downsides and Why Soft Water is Better
Water is a precious resource. You use it to cook food, clean clothes, wash dishes, take a bath, and more. But what happens when the water you use is impure or has minerals that lower its quality? In this article, we’ll talk about hard water and its downsides, as well as why you should consider softening the water at home. Read on!
What is Hard Water?
When water contains an excess amount of calcium and magnesium, that water is considered hard water.
Water hardness is measured by the amount of said minerals in it. The US Geological Survey (USGS) measures water hardness in milligrams and with the following levels:
- 0 to 60 mg/L - soft
- 61 to 120 mg/L - moderately hard
- 121 to 180 mb/L - hard
- More than 180 mb/L - very hard
To solve this problem, many people use water softening systems. The most popular water softeners are salt-based systems that use ion-exchange processes to eliminate excess minerals.
However, different types and brands exist in the market. To get a better sense of how water softeners work and compare to each other, you can read this Filtersmart vs fleck water softeners review.
Now, why do we want to get rid of hard water? It’s because hard water…
Damages Your Plumbing
Hard water wears down your plumbing and piping faster than soft water does. Scale buildup occurs inside the tubs, sinks, and pipes of your house. And this buildup can cause several plumbing problems, such as lower water pressure, clogs, and irreparable damages.
You can imagine the amount of work you’ll need to exert to fix such damages, which are also quite expensive to repair or replace.
If you want to check for hard water, you want to check for a strange, sometimes foul, taste or odor that comes from your water. Not only does this mean you have hard water; it also means you may have a bacterial problem in your water supply.
If your water tastes metallic, that may mean there’s an excess amount of iron. Meanwhile, the taste or smell of rotten eggs comes from the naturally occurring substance hydrogen sulfide. Other times, the rotten-egg taste may be caused by bacteria that reacts with magnesium or calcium.
If your water tastes like dirt, there may be actual dirt in your water, caused by sediment, old pipes, or even algae. All of these give water a moldy aftertaste.
Leaves Ugly Stains
When you have a hard water problem, you’ll also typically see ugly, reddish-brown stains on your appliances. Hard water also sometimes carries too much iron, which causes those rust-like spots. The iron could also be coming from your rusty pipes.
Manual scrubbing can fix that problem, but you’ll exert too much effort. And the stains will just come back over and over again until you fix your hard water problem.
Causes Lots of Soap Scum
Hard water spots and soap scum are also among the most annoying problems related to hard water.
When hard water evaporates, it leaves calcium deposits behind. And when it reacts to soap, you see soap scum and spots everywhere. When soap scum is left on shower curtains, a microbial film may develop, and such film can carry disease-causing bacteria.
You can also exert effort and clean your bathroom and kitchen more vigorously and use more cleaning products to ensure no soap scum is left. But that’s also impractical, not to mention exhausting. Like the rust-like spots on appliances, soap scum will just come back again and again until you fix your hard water problem.
Causes Shower Problems
Again, soap and hard water just don’t mix well together. Your shower time can also suffer. When you bathe, you’ll find that it’s more difficult to rinse off soap from your body. You’ll see and feel an annoying film residue on your skin. Your hair will also suffer.
At the same time, hardened mineral deposits can also clog your showerheads. Water pressure may become weaker.
Makes It Hard to Clean Clothes
Just as it damages your appliances, hard water can also adversely impact your laundry. Again, the reason is that hard water doesn’t sit well with soap and detergent.
Soap can wash away dirt and grime. But hard water makes it difficult to rinse the soap off. As a result, solid buildup on clothes can just worsen.
Additionally, when you wash clothes using hard water, they may appear dingy and dirty. Your towels and other fabric can also feel itchy, scratchy, and rough.
You can use detergent or soap formulated to soften water, but you’ll also use more of it, as well as hotter water.
Moreover, when hard water also contains too much iron, your clothes can get stained. Too much iron can also cause the yellowing of fabrics. It’s worse when you use bleach since it combines with iron to form iron dioxide, which is the fancy name of rust.
Causes Itching and Irritation Problems
And because soap gets left behind, it causes your skin to be dry and itchy. Worse, hard water can also lead to dry, bumpy patches on your skin. These skin problems are due to the excessive presence of minerals in the water.
The most effective solution to all of these downsides is to soften water. Soft water lacks minerals like calcium and magnesium. There are many other benefits as well.
Why Soft Water is Better
Soft water is better than hard water because you can avoid all those problems we discussed, as well as other benefits.
Soft water doesn’t damage your plumbing and appliances. That means fewer repairs needed and a longer lifespan for your appliances and plumbing. You’ll also have lower gas and electric bills since your pipes won’t get damaged.
Meanwhile, your skin will pick moisture more easily and soft water will balance your hair’s pH level.
You’ll also have brighter and cleaner clothes. Soft water cleans clothes more effectively and will not cause colors to fade.
Overall, you can avoid all the downsides and risks of hard water just by choosing to use soft water. The most effective way to do that is to install a water softening system in your house.