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Water is one of the most essential nutrients. Did you know that there are many different types of water that we can consume? Hard water, soft water, alkaline water, carbonated water, and others are a few types of water that we consume today.
In this article, we will understand more about hard and soft water. Is there any difference between hard water and soft water? And if there is a difference, are they safe for human consumption? Read on to find out.
Hard Water And Soft Water – What’s The Difference?
Water is transparent. But it contains essential minerals like sodium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, selenium, magnesium, and others. The main difference between hard and soft water is the type of minerals present in them.
Calcium and magnesium are the two elements that are abundantly present in hard water. And instead of magnesium and calcium, soft water has high levels of sodium or salt.
What Is The Difference Between Hard And Soft Water?
Because hard and soft water is crystal clear, it is difficult to tell the difference between them just by looking. To know the difference between hard and soft water, observe how the water interacts with different substances and surfaces.
With hard water: you will see a film on your hand after washing them with it. The reaction of soap with the calcium in hard water causes this film or soap scum. If you wash your glasses or silverware with hard water, you will also notice spots on them. These spots are deposits of calcium present in hard water.
Another sign of hard water is mineral stains appearing on your clothes. These stains are usually calcium carbonate stains. Hard water is harsher than soft water, and so clothes may wear out faster when you wash them with hard water.
The calcium and magnesium deposits in the pipes also cause the diameter of the pipes to shrink, reducing water pressure. So, if you have less water pressure in your tap, the water coming through may be hard water.
With soft water: you will see all the opposite side effects of hard water. There will be no film or soap scum when washing your clothes, dishes, or anything else.
You will find a healthy lather that is common while using soft water. No spots will appear on your dishes or glasses after washing them. You will also not find any mineral stains on your clothes. And clothes last much longer when you wash them with soft water.
Because soft water does not contain high levels of calcium and magnesium, the interiors of the pipes won’t shrink. And so you will have high water pressure. Although in most cases, you won’t taste the sodium in soft water, sometimes you can. With soft water, at times, you might get slight sodium or salty taste.
Hard Water – Are There Any Health Risks?
Hard water is usually safe to drink when it is free from bacteria and harmful viruses. There are no significant health risks that are associated with hard water. In fact, due to the presence of magnesium and calcium, hard water has many health benefits. (1)
But a study indicates that hard water may have an adverse effect on skin and hair. It may cause dry skin, dry hair, and even hair fall. Research suggests that there was a reduction in the tensile strength of hair that was treated with hard water. (2)
If you use hard water and notice any adverse side-effects on your hair and skin, you can use a quality water softening machine. You can also use moisturizers and hair products to heal the adverse effects of hard water. And always consult your dermatologist before you start using any of these products.
What Are The Benefits Of Hard Water?
Though there is no concrete evidence on the subject, research suggests that drinking hard water has many health benefits. One research suggests that people who drink hard water are less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases due to the high calcium and magnesium content. (3)
Another research suggests that hard water also helps improve cancer, cerebrovascular mortality, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. It also helps improve gastrointestinal health, digestive issues, and reproductive health. Because hard water is rich in calcium, it also increases bone mineral density and is good for our bone health. (4)
Another study indicates that water rich in magnesium and calcium has therapeutic effects and can be beneficial in treating kidney stones. (5) (6)
Soft Water – Are There Any Health Risks?
Soft water is high in sodium. And research suggests that consuming too much sodium or salt increases our risk of cardiovascular diseases. (7) So, if you already suffer from high blood pressure or other cardiovascular diseases, it is best not to drink soft water.
If you are healthy and receive your magnesium and calcium content from your normal diet, soft water is most likely safe for you.
However, soft water is devoid of essential minerals like magnesium, calcium, and others. And so, it is more prone to pulling elements like lead from older pipes.
What Are The Benefits Of Soft Water?
Soft water is more beneficial for cleaning and home chores more than drinking. While hard water is much more beneficial to drink, soft water is suitable for cleaning. Washing clothes with soft water is much better than washing them with hard water. This is because soft water is gentler on the clothes and does not cause clothes to wear out sooner.
Soft water is also great for cleaning utensils, cleaning the house, and showering. It is most definitely a healthy and smooth cleaning agent.
Soft water and hard water are safe to drink for most people. However, soft water may not be so good for people who suffer from hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. Since soft water is high in sodium, you can install a potassium softening system that replaces sodium with potassium.
Consuming too much magnesium and calcium may also be detrimental to health. Too much of even a good thing can be harmful. And so, if you are getting enough calcium and magnesium from your diet, drinking too much hard water may be dangerous.
Many people install a water softening system for such instances. This system replaces magnesium and calcium with sodium or potassium. If you have hard water running through your tap, the softening system is excellent to convert hard water into soft water and use it to drink or for cleaning purposes around the house.
Always remember to clean and maintain the water softening system. The system is more prone to developing bacteria and fungi, so it is essential to keep it clean for healthy water.
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