If you’re a homeowner, you’ve probably heard the terms soft water and hard water. If you ask someone to explain what these terms mean, you will probably get a definition that is based on how well water cleans when it uses soaps and detergents, or what is left behind in a tea kettle.
You may hear descriptions such as, “hard water causes spots on dishes,” or “soft water doesn’t leave my clothes looking dingy.” Many people even say that soft water leaves their skin smoother, and their hair silkier.
Whether your household water supply is considered “hard” or “soft” depends upon the presence of calcium and magnesium.
It’s important to note that from a health standpoint, these minerals do not have adverse effects, and they are essential daily nutrients. However, too much calcium and magnesium can become a real hassle for the homeowner.
Are you experiencing hard water issues?
The problem is that when calcium and magnesium are highly concentrated, they tend to buildup on contact surfaces, and they can:
- Plug household pipes
- Damage water heaters
- Decrease the effectiveness of soaps and detergents
- Leave unsightly spots on dishes and silverware
- Leave soap deposits on bathtubs
- Cause dull-looking laundry
- Leave scale deposits inside faucets
- Shorten the lifespan of heating elements
If you do have hard water, you probably need to install a water softener, and one of the best ways to tell is to take a look at your dishes.
Do your dishes come out of the dishwasher with spots? If it seems impossible to get your dishes clean without scrubbing them by hand, there’s a good chance that you have hard water.
Check your water supply company. If your water has 7.0 to 10.5 grains per gallon (GPG), it is considered to be hard. If it has greater than 10.5 GPG, then it is considered to be very hard.