How to tell the difference between hard water and soft – We have all probably heard the expressions “hard water” and “soft water.” But what do these expressions actually mean, and what is the difference between the two? For your benefit, we here at CW Services Plumbing and Heating are taking a few minutes out, to explain.
Hard and soft refer to water’s chemical composition
Although water is described in “texture terms” as being either hard or soft, the actual meaning has nothing to do with its feel. In actual fact, hard or soft in terms of water, refers to its chemical make-up. However, despite the use of the word “chemical,” rest assured that both hard water and soft water are quite safe for human consumption.
Pure water is naturally soft
Pure water (such as rainwater for example) is naturally soft. It only gets changed into hard water when it comes into contact with, and seeps through, layers of rock which are made up of materials like calcium and magnesium, which the rainwater then absorbs. It’s this absorption process that brings about the change.
The change from soft water to hard water explained
Rainwater is never really absolutely pure. This is because in this day and age it becomes contaminated with certain carbon compounds which are the result of pollution. This makes the rainwater slightly acidic. If we take this slightly acidic rainwater dropping onto ground that contains limestone; as the rainwater seeps through the rock, the acid dissolves some of the limestone, and absorbs small quantities of the calcium carbonate contained in the limestone, as well as some magnesium. This turns the soft water into hard water.
Depending on which areas the rainwater fall on, the degrees of acquired hardness will vary according to the density and make-up of the compounds in the ground.
How to spot the difference between hard water and soft
Of course you can’t tell whether your water is hard or soft, simply by looking at the stuff that comes out of your taps. It all look s the same. So, how can you tell the difference? Here are a few tips.
- It is much more difficult to get soap to lather well in hard water.
- Hard water leaves behind a considerable amount of scum in baths, showers and sinks.
- When hard water is boiled it leaves behind a residue of limescale, which is noticeable in kettles, and can result in the blockage of water pipes.
- When hard water has absorbed ferrous iron from the ground, it can stain clothes that are washed, with red/brown marks, and can also stain bathroom and kitchen enamel and working surfaces.
Perceived benefits of hard water
Many people maintain that hard water tastes better. Also, Because of the chemicals it contains (calcium in particular) it is proven to be better for bones and teeth. It is also said to be instrumental in helping to lessen heart disease.
Perceived benefits of soft water
Because soft water has no calcium or salt deposits in it, it does not form a scale around the heating coils of your boiler. Hard water does, making the boiler less efficient.
If you’d like to know more about hard and soft water, or how you can make hard water softer, or if you need the services of a plumber in the London area, call CW Services Plumbing and Heating on 020 7733 6812, or 07949 095 184.