Water And Oceanography

The Differences between Hard and Soft Water

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The primary difference between hard water and soft water is the amount of earth minerals present in the water even after it is treated enough for human use. Hard water contains more particles of minerals including calcium and magnesium.

Water hardness typically is expressed in terms of dissolved calcium carbonate in units of mg/l, ppm, or grains/gallon. The U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) define 60 mg/l or less as soft water. Water with over 120 mg/l is considered hard, and water in between is moderately hard.( Source: USGS)

But what does this mean for you?

Hard water will tend to leave noticeable effects during usage. When you bathe in harder water you may notice soap scum buildup on your soap and in and around your shower. This is due to the calcium reacting with the soap. Your skin may feel slightly drier after bathing as the water has more rough particles to irritate your skin. Laundry done in hard water is reported to feel rougher and less clean then soft water however some people argue that using dryer sheets with eliminate the rough feeling of the fabric.

Soft water obviously is called 'soft' because it does not leave the same effects listed above as hard water does. Sometimes you can feel the difference when touching soft water, it seems to soak into your skin easier and does not have that friction like feel to it when you rub your hands together while washing them.

Both types of water are safe for drinking water as both generally go through water processing plants before reaching your home. People who are raised in and live in the same region most of their lives using hard water do not usually cite any irritation or complaints about rough feeling laundry or dry skin. People who are used to soft water are more likely to notice the difference when traveling to areas with harder water.

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