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What’s the difference between “hard water” and “soft water”?

You’ve probably heard people refer to “hard water” or “soft water” before, but have you ever really wondered what exactly those terms mean? Well, let us explain. Hard water is water that contains microscopic (parts per million) of inorganic compounds like calcium, or magnesium, or even chalk! These compounds are picked up and deposited in the water as the water runs through rock and soil and the end result is that the water becomes very alkaline. The more of these compounds that are contained in the water, the “harder” the water is. One “symptom” of hard water is that your soap or your shampoo does not produce a lot of sudssing action because of these compounds contained in the water. By contrast, “soft water” refers to water that where these high levels of compounds are not present. Or, water where the pH balance is more in line and within a normal range.

In order to soften their hard water, many people install a water softening system. This is a system that introduces minerals (primarily salt) that continually clean the resin beads that take the hardness out of the water and remove the ions in hard water. When performing the “suds” test with soft water, you will see that it is quite a bit more impressive!

Hard water can also be the culprit of some other observations you may have made:

  • Spotting on glasses and silverware
  • Soap scum on the shower doors
  • Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and dry skin
  • Dry, dull skin and hair
  • Scale build-up in pipes, water heater, dishwashers and washing machines

Water softener systems will eliminate or drastically improve many of these conditions. They are, for the most part, low maintenance and can last for several years. Water softeners systems are connected to existing water lines and generally placed on a timer so that the softening of the water is easy and automatic. There is a tank where the salt is stored for the water softener. This is called the “brine tank”. With the exception of making sure there is an ample supply of salt pellets in the brine tank, maintaining the water softer is easy and not at all time consuming.

You’ll love the results:

  • Spot free glasses and silverware
  • No more soap scum!
  • Softer, cleaner skin and hair
  • Detergent, shampoo, soap and fabric softener will last longer because you’ll need less
  • The cost of running your water heater can decrease significantly due to better efficiency

Did you know that a glass of salt softened water contains less sodium than a glass of milk?

What kind of salt do I use in a water softener system?

  • You can purchase 50lb bags at any of the big box stores, but the best type to get is “solar salt.” Different brands bag it such as Morton’s (just like the table salt, but do not use table salt!)