Soft Water vs Hard Water: Which One Is Healthier?

Soft water or hard water

The phrases “hard water” and “soft water” you’ve already heard. You may question what defines the water’s hardness or softness and whether one form of water is better or safer to drink than the other. Water contains minerals and chemicals, while it is usually crystal clear. The abundance of such minerals is what causes water’s “hardness”.

The distinctions between the two forms of water, as well as the pros and cons of both and what to do about water softening, will be discussed in this article.

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Difference between hard water and soft water:

Water hardness is determined largely by the quantity of calcium and magnesium it contains. Water is hardened by higher amounts of these and other minerals.

Water softening devices operate by reducing the water’s mineral concentrations. Instead of having higher calcium and magnesium levels, soft water appears to contain higher sodium or salt concentrations.

How can you tell if the water is hard or soft?

Typically, when looking at the water, you can’t tell if it’s hard or soft. Often a tip-off can be the feel of water and what it does to things in the dishwasher or laundry machine.

Signs of hard water include:

  • During or after the wash, you may feel a film on your palms. This is caused by the soap contributing to the forming of soap scum with calcium. If the water is hard, it might be hard to clean your hands.
  • Spots can appear on glasses that come out of the dishwasher and silverware. There are commonly calcium carbonate deposits.
  • Mineral stains. When they step out of the washing machine, they show up in clothes. Owing to the harshness of rough water, clothes will wear out quicker.
  • Less strain on the water in your house. In the pipes, mineral deposits may form, effectively decreasing the pipes’ internal diameter and decreasing the flow of water.

Signs of soft water include:

  • You’ll observe a healthy lather when washing clothes, dishes, and even your hands and body.
  • Cleaner clothes, without mineral stains and with less wear-and-tear damage. 
  • You’ll observe the healthy water pressure in your home.
  • A slight flavour of sodium in drinking water, but the variation in flavour is imperceptible in certain situations.

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Are there any health risks associated with hard water? 

There are no serious adverse health problems associated with drinking hard water. Nonetheless, hard water can lead to dry skin and hair. Washing your hair regularly will leave your scalp feeling itchy with rough water. You can also read about the Potential Health Impacts of Hard Water.

The minerals in hard water will also alter your skin’s pH balance, undermining it as a buffer to dangerous bacteria and infections. People with eczema may be more susceptible. 

It’s better to look into a water softening machine for your home if you notice issues with dry skin and hair. Speak to a dermatologist about moisturisers and hair treatments you can use to counteract the symptoms of hard water if that’s not feasible.

What are the benefits of hard water? 

Because hard water contains high magnesium and calcium concentrations, drinking hard water will help you get the recommended daily intake of these essential nutrients. There is some speculation that there might be cardiovascular advantages of drinking hard water, although there is no definite hypothesis to back up that argument.

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Are there any health risks associated with soft water? 

If the diet usually contains abundant sources of calcium and magnesium, consuming water with lower amounts of these minerals is unlikely to carry any dangers. Taking a multivitamin or calcium or magnesium supplement may be enough to satisfy your everyday needs if there are deficiencies in your diet.

The larger risk is for people with elevated blood pressure and may be prone to the consequences of drinking water with a higher sodium content rising blood pressure. Just as others are cautioned against applying salt to their diet with increased blood pressure, they may be cautioned against softening their home drinking water. Soft water from the interior of older water pipes that have not been cleaned to block the leaching of lead is often more likely to pick up lead.

What are the benefits of soft water?

For washing, soft water is recommended, since it does not appear to produce soap scum or mineral stains. Because it’s a more reliable and powerful washing agent, by not needing to re-wash laundry or dishes, or taking longer baths to feel thoroughly washed and rinsed, you can save money on your water bill.

What is water softening?

A home water softening machine operates by running hard water through a resin that is filled with positively charged sodium ions, sticky, insoluble material from some trees and plants. There are molecules bearing a net electrical charge. Essentially, sodium concentrations replace the magnesium and calcium in the water.

In order to keep the resin electrically charged, water softening units need continuous servicing, and sodium pellets need to be inserted. Instead of sodium, some devices may use potassium pellets. Systems that use magnets, citric acid, or other ways of reducing the amounts of calcium and magnesium in the water are also available.

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Is water softening safe?

Bacteria and fungi can form on a water-softening system’s resin, so it is important to clean and maintain the equipment to keep the water secure. The added sodium in home drinking water is the major safety concern. You can speak with the maker of the softening machine to find out how much sodium is applied to the water whether you or anyone in your household is on a low-sodium diet.

You should also strive to find a device that uses potassium to soften the drinking water instead of sodium. Speak with a cardiologist about how water softening could affect your blood pressure if you do have health problems.

It’s a smart idea to get the water checked for traces of lead and other toxins if the house has an old, untreated plumbing system. For little or no fee, several municipal water systems can test home water samples.

The Best Water Softeners:

We’ve selected the best water softeners based on overall efficacy, availability, and popularity.

 1. AFW Filters Iron Pro 2 Water Softener

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The AFW Filters Iron Pro 2 Water Softener uses an iron filter and water softener combination system to remove iron, sulfur, manganese, sediment, sand, calcium, and magnesium. The metal is filtered using a unique mesh resin filter and includes a device to test for iron content in your water supply.

The water softener has a 64,000-grain capacity, making it ideal for large households and high levels of hard water. The included bypass valve effectively isolates the water softener while gardening while the metered regeneration system makes it simple to maintain softened water production. However, keep in mind that it is a salt-based water softener, and at 120 pounds, it isn’t small.

 2. Fleck 5600SXT 64,000 Grain Water Softener

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This hefty salt-based water softener weighs 180 pounds, but is worth the space needed to filter up to 64,000 gpg from your water in a week. The Fleck 64K Grain Water Softener comes with access to the Pentair Scan and Service App, which gives you detailed configuration information, technical documentation, information on spare parts, and a full troubleshooting manual.

The metered regeneration system can be programmed using the digital control head to suit your daily or weekly needs, without worrying about adding too much or too little salt to the system. While this softener is not made to remove iron from your water, it is ideal for large homes and effectively softens water by removing calcium and magnesium.

3. iSpring ED2000 Whole House Electronic Descaler

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The iSpring ED2000 Magnetic Water Softener is an affordable solution for treating scale build-up in appliances, on faucets, and showerheads. However, like all magnetic water softeners, it does not remove the heavy minerals from the water, so clothing may still suffer from premature fading.

The 2-pound softener is easily installed on all types of pipe, including PEX and PVC, by wrapping the two antenna cables from the water softener around the water pipe and then plugging the unit into a power outlet. The neutralized water doesn’t just prevent scale build-up; it breaks down existing limescale to give your home a cleaner look and feel.

4. DuraWater 64k-56sxt-10al 64,000 Grain Water Softener

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Despite the premium price of this 64,000-grain capacity water softener, it is an excellent investment for a large household. The salt-based water softener removes magnesium, calcium, and even traces of iron to protect your pipes, clothing, and hair from hard water.

A digital LCD screen with touchpad controls the water softener, allowing you to customize the metered regeneration system to suit your weekly schedule. The display can also be used to view error codes for troubleshooting. The unit weighs 140 pounds and includes a bypass valve and an installation tutorial for handy DIYers.

5. Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener

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Like all salt-based water softeners, the Fleck 5600SCT Salt-Based Water Softener uses ion exchange to remove calcium and magnesium from your water supply with impressive effect. It has a 48,000-grain capacity for treating medium to large households and weighs about 80 pounds when full, so it may require some floorplanning before installation.

The water softener comes with a bypass valve so you don’t waste salt on your lawn care needs. The metered regeneration system is programmable using the LCD screen so the system only regenerates the resin on your schedule.

Final thoughts:

With no side effects, most individuals can easily drink hard or soft water. For certain individuals, higher sodium levels in soft water can be a problem, but it can be handled with a softening device dependent on potassium. You should choose to drink bottled water and use your home’s soft water for laundry, dishwashing, and bathing if the salt in soft water is a problem.

If you’re interested in softening your water, shop around for water softeners we’ve listed above, and talk with a plumber about how the system may affect your home’s plumbing. It’s also helpful to understand the maintenance requirements of a water-softening system before you buy one.

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