You have probably encountered your friends in a heated debate on the merits of taking soft or hard water, or you have been stuck deep in the woods and the only alternative to your water supply is hard water.
It can be confusing telling the difference between the two. Water is often clear and as such you cannot tell the amount of dissolved minerals in it.
What is the difference between soft and hard water?
It is not possible to tell the difference between hard and soft water by just looking at it. The differences are beneath the surface. Hard water contains high composition of minerals like calcium and magnesium. You will need water softeners to remove these components through a process called ionization. This process uses a resin tank that has beads with sodium ions. When hard water passes through the resin tank it is exchanged for calcium and magnesium ions. With time your resin tank becomes saturated with these hard minerals therefore requiring regeneration.
Soft water on the other hand contains high concentration of salt or sodium. This salt finds its way into the water during ionization. If you have issues with sodium then replace your resin tank with potassium.
Issues associated with hard water
- Damage to your piping systems
Hard water high content of calcium leads to developing of limescale in your household piping systems. This limescale leads to clogging and residue in your faucets, bathroom pipes and water systems. When this clog your systems efficient flow of water is hindered. You may open your pipe only to be confronted with some foul looking substance. This may eventually find its way into your food and drinking water.
- Skin problems
Hard water will cause you to experience more itching and dryness to your skin. It will also lead to susceptibility to acne and clogged pores. The harmful minerals in hard water are not good for your skin. If you are using well water with high sulfur content then you may find yourself leaving your shower smelling like rotten eggs. Hard water interferes with the natural PH of water hence creating an atmosphere for bacteria to manifest. This makes one susceptible to various diseases if you consume hard water a lot.
- Lather soaps
Hard water makes it hard to wash clothes and your body effectively. The minerals in hard water makes it difficult to lather your soap. This means you consume more of soap for your daily household needs.
Iron present in hard water will lead to staining of your kitchen sink, showerheads, toilet bowls and bathtubs. When this present in your water you will have dull looking sinks that do not clear even after using detergents.
Risks with soft water
The major risk factor of consuming soft water with high sodium content is that it increases your blood pressure hence exposing you to various cardiovascular problems. You can replace this sodium content with potassium. Hard water can be good if you want to meet your recommended daily intake of minerals like calcium or iron but excessive amounts of these minerals can harm your body.
Benefits of soft water
- Makes it easy to lather and wash your clothes
- You get to consume odorless water that is bacteria free
- Helps prevent pipe clogging due to limescale
- Leaves your skin and hair free from chemicals
- You avoid skin dryness
- Your kitchen sinks and toilet bowls are left sparkling clean
How to soften water
Water softening units are there to turn hard water to soft hence making it suitable for home use. Water softeners in the market can either use salt or electromagnetic signals to soften water. Resin is the most commonly used substance for hard water softening. Resin is an insoluble substance that is coated with sodium ions and is used to replace the calcium and magnesium ions. You will often find natural resin in plants and animals.
The composition of these soft water units is the resin tank, brine tank and control valve. The hard water will go through the resin tank where there is an exchange of sodium ions for the calcium and magnesium ones. These hard water mineral ions will accumulate in the resin tank until regeneration flushes it out. You will also need to replace the used sodium occasionally. The control valve will monitor your household consumption levels and automatically trigger the regeneration process. Your water intake will determine the capacity of the water softener that you go for.
Hard water has high concentration of calcium and magnesium, which possess problems when you are bathing or washing clothes. Water softeners are there to remove harmful compounds from hard water. When left unattended hard water will cause serious skin problems like itching and dryness. Soft water is good for drinking and basic domestic chores. However, it has substantial amounts of sodium which may cause some health problems for those with blood pressure problems.