What is the Difference Between Hard Water and Soft Water?
Most homeowners have heard the terms “hard water” and “soft water,” but many aren’t clear on what they really mean or whether one is better than the other. Understanding the difference between hard water and soft water can help you determine what type of water you have and then decide if a water softener is right for your home.
Hard water contains a significant quantity of dissolved minerals, while soft water is treated to removed these minerals. As a result, the only positively charged ion (cation) soft water contains is sodium. The issue some people may have with softened water is that minerals in your water give it a characteristic taste. Some people enjoy natural mineral waters, which are hard waters, for their flavor and potential health benefits.
Soft water can taste salty and it may not make suitable drinking water. So, if it tastes bad, you may wonder why you’d use a water softener in your home. The answer is that very hard water can reduce the life of your plumbing system. This is because hard water tends to form scale in your pipes, which can lead to plumbing problems such as:
- Poor heat transfer, which increases the energy required to provide hot water
- Soap scum, because soap is less effective in hard water
Hard water can take on a salty taste after treatment with a water softener because most of the ions are gone, leaving behind sodium and various negatively charged ions called “anions.” However, softened water can be deionized and the salty taste removed, by using a resin that replaces anions with hydroxide and cations with hydrogen.
For more information about hard water and soft water, contact us at Sobieski Services, Inc. Our goal is to help educate our customers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC & plumbing systems).
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