Hard Water vs Soft Water Debate Finally Solved
For years people have debated if hard or soft water is better for home plumbing. Both sides have valid arguments, but which wins the debate? We determine water density by the mineral count in a gallon. Hard water has more minerals in it.
Some of these chemicals are good for our health, others are not. You create soft water by removing minerals from water and replacing those minerals with sodium.
The Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality Hardness rank hard to soft by CaCO3 levels. Here are their guidelines:
- Soft Less than 60 mg/L
- Medium Hard 60 to 119 mg/L
- Hard 120 to 179 mg/L
- Very Hard 180 mg/L or greater
So, which one is better?
Hard water has minerals that are good for our health, including calcium and magnesium. These minerals come from the ground as water flows by rocks or soil. These minerals are not irreplaceable. You could replace more calcium and magnesium in your diet. However, having hard water is a natural way to get those minerals.
Soft water is not more or less healthier for you. Hard water just has more minerals that benefit your health.
Hard water tastes different because of the minerals. Preference of taste varies for each person. The minerals in hard water create a bitter taste, while fewer minerals in soft water creates a saltier taste. Soft water has fewer minerals which means less contaminated taste.
Plants & Environment
Over time the salt in soft water will cause your plants to die. High count of sodium decreases oxygen levels. Low oxygen levels cause the soil to swell and become compacted. The compacted soil stops plants from providing nutrition to their roots. This results in plants suffering from salt stress. You can tell if your plants are suffering from yellow tips on leaves or salt rings where the water sits.
Sodium in soft water also prevents soil from absorbing the water. You will need to water your soil more often because of the compacted soil.
Depositing the water after use can cause problems. If you discharge soft water into the ocean, the aquatic environment could be at risk. Soft water is usually deposited in local water sources and can cause problems with fish and plants. Hard water is more natural and less detrimental to the environment.
The calcium and magnesium in hard water combines to create scale or mineral deposit. This scale is hard to remove and causes build up in pipes. Scale build up can cause water pressure to drop and over time decay through pipes. Untreated pipes will start to leak and cause high water bills and damage to homes. The difficult part is this process is slow and may go unnoticed by home owners.
Pipes that use hot water are more at risk. Hot water makes the minerals withdraw quicker. Those appliances will accrue more scale deposit and break sooner. The water heater is especially at risk. The build up from minerals coat the heating element. If untreated, the water heater will run up heating bills and will later stop working altogether.
Cleaning is where soft water shines. Hard water leaves mineral build up, while soft water does not. Hard water minerals also prevents interaction with stains, soils and dirty dishes. Soft water allows soap to lather while taking a shower. And there is less build up after boiling water.
Laundry is cleaner with soft water because you have fewer minerals after washing. In fact, a study conducted in 2011 by an independent testing firm found you save 50% on soap when using a washing machine with soft water. Soft water also cleans without leaving residue on clothes, dishes, and tubs.
Unlike hard water, soft water works with the soap rather than against it. Cleaning is more effective with soft water for washing dishes, clothes, bathrooms, and your body. Hard water also increases the frequency for cleaning. You extend the life of appliances and clothes when you use soft water because it is gentler.
We find, that while soft water is more effective for keeping pipes clean, hard water is more effective for drinking and the environment. The taste factor depends on who is drinking at the time and therefore cannot count towards our conclusion. Believe it or not, there is a positive solution to the water debate.
The best answer is to use soft water for hot water needs and hard water for cold water needs. You can clean with hot water and save on soap costs. And, you can drink and water the lawn with cold water and consume less sodium. Hard water also keeps you from watering the lawn as often. Always make sure you have our professionals from Hillcrest Plumbing & Heating to check your pipes for scale build up at least once a year.
Take advantage of hard and soft water to cut on costs and maximize the benefits of both.