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Difference Between Hard Water and Soft Water

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

Hard water vs soft water. One glass containing cloudy hard water and another containing clear soft water. Green background, StoneStream watermark visible. Difference between hard water and soft water.
What's the difference between hard water and soft water?

Have you noticed whitish stains on your shower head, tiles, bathtub, and other bathroom fixtures? Does your skin feel rough and your hair itchy after you take a shower? If yes, then this might be because you receive hard water at home.

Now, if you have a bathroom, it's important that you know the difference between hard water and soft water. Water hardness impacts not only your skin and hair but also your bathroom fixtures, particularly your taps, shower heads, and tiles.

So, let's dive in and see the difference between hard water and soft water.

What Is Hard Water?

Hard water is water that contains high levels of minerals, typically salts of calcium and magnesium (in the form of bicarbonates, chlorides, and sulfates). While hard water is not harmful to your health — in fact, you can drink it if it's meant for consumption — but it can cause a number of problems around the home, particularly in the bathroom.

Why Is Hard Water Bad for Bathrooms?

A shower head covered in limescale due to hard water. Impact of hard water on bathroom fixtures. Concept of difference between hard water and soft water.
Hard water leaves stains and limescale deposits on bathroom accessories such as shower heads and faucets.

For instance, hard water can make it difficult to get soap suds to lather, leads to the formation of soap scum, and also leaves behind an unsightly film on shower heads, doors, and tiles. If you live in an area with hard water, it is important to clean your shower head, hose, taps, glass doors, and tiles regularly to prevent build-up.

In addition, hard water can cause significant damage to plumbing over time by scaling up pipes and fixtures. Further, hard water can negatively impact skin and hair, causing rashes, itchiness, dryness, hair fall, and allergies over time. Note that hard water will be particularly harsh on those who have sensitive skin or allergies and also on babies and pets.

Thus, many homeowners opt to install water softeners, which remove the minerals from the water. People also go for hard water shower heads/water softening shower heads, which have in-built water softeners to reduce water hardness and are less costly than water softening systems.

What Is Soft Water?

A glass of clean and clear soft water. White background and no stains on the glass. Concept of difference between hard water and soft water.
Soft water is clear, unlike hard water which is cloudy.

Soft water is water that has been treated to remove minerals like calcium and magnesium. Basically, it contains a low level of dissolved minerals.

Soft water is gentler on your skin and hair, and it also prevents soap scum from accumulating in your bathroom. As a result, soft water can help you keep your bathroom clean and looking its best. In addition, soft water can help to extend the life of your plumbing by preventing mineral deposits from building up in pipes.

However, soft water can have its own drawbacks, such as making hair feel oily and causing clothing to wear out more quickly. Nevertheless, this is quite rare, and most people prefer soft water to hard water any day.

How can you tell if water is hard or soft?

Wondering what the signs of hard water are? Thinking about how you can know if you are getting hard water or soft water at home? How do you tell if you have hard water?

Take a look at a few easy ways to check water hardness at home:

  • The hard water spot test: This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to test for hard water. Simply pour a glass of water and let it sit for a few minutes. If you see whitish spots or a film on the surface of the water, this is a sign of hard water.

  • The hard water soap test: Take a clean and empty plastic bottle and add a few drops of liquid soap into it. Then, fill it with the water from your bathroom. Shake the bottle vigorously. If there aren't a lot of bubbles noticeable and the water appears to be cloudy, then that means you have hard water.

  • The hard water test kit: Purchase a hard water kit from a local store. The kit usually contains test strips and a colour chart and will allow you to see the intensity of the water hardness in your bathroom.

Let's also take a look at a few common signs of hard water:

  • White spots on shower heads, taps, tiles, and any bathroom surface that comes in contact with water.

  • Formation of soap scum — no matter how much soap you take, it doesn't lather properly and leaves an annoying film on your skin. You might find that you have to shower for longer to get rid of the film that forms due to soap scum.

  • You might notice low water pressure in your shower head and taps. This might be because the minerals from the hard water have clogged your pipes and are restricting the flow of water.

  • Your skin and hair feel dry, itchy, and limp after a shower or bath. You might even encounter rashes. This is because the minerals in hard water are building up on the surface of your skin and scalp, causing issues.

Hard Water vs Soft Water: Which Is Better For The Bathroom?

A man taking a shower using soft water. Steam is visible. No hard water stains on the shower glass.
Soft water is better for your skin, hair, bathroom surfaces, and shower accessories.

So, which is better? It is better to go with soft water because it is less harsh on skin, hair, and bathroom surfaces. Plus, soft water will ensure that you use less water and bath products because you won't be spending your time trying to scrub away the soap scum with lots of water or create lather with lots of product.

In fact, many industries, plants, and factories prefer soft water over hard water because the latter tends to damage machinery and other fixtures in the long run while the former does not.

So, if you're looking for a way to improve the quality of your bathroom, prevent skin and hair issues, and extend the longevity of your bathroom fixtures, soft water is definitely worth considering. If you don't want to buy a water softening system for your home but wish to enjoy showers with soft water, consider a water softening shower head like the StoneStream EcoPower.

Enjoy Soft Water Showers with the StoneStream EcoPower

StoneStream EcoPower shower head and Universal Hard Water Filter in the centre. TDS levels of before and after their use, showing that StoneStream products reduce water hardness.
The StoneStream EcoPower shower head and Universal Hard Water Filter can soften your water efficiently.

StoneStream's affordable, luxurious, and stylish EcoPower shower heads filter water and contain three types of germanium (anion, ceramic, and tourmaline) stones which turn hard water into soft, spring-like water that is good for your skin, hair, and bathroom fixtures.

The germanium mineral stones filter and soften water and get rid of chlorine, dirt, sand, bacteria, heavy metals, and limescale. You will only have to replace the mineral stones every six months and can easily get the replacement filters on our website!

Additionally, our Universal Shower Hard Water Filter makes use of a 15-stage filtration process to give you softened shower water that is good for your skin, hair, and bathroom. The hard water filter has the ability to filter up to 10,000 gallons of water and has a cartridge that you can replace every six months.

Here's a video that demonstrates our EcoPower shower head and Hard Ward Filter reducing water hardness:

With StoneStream's water softening shower heads, you can enjoy soft water showers every day! Here are some other notable features of our EcoPower shower heads:

  • 200% increased water flow

  • 35% reduction in water consumption

  • Gentle on sensitive skin, babies, and pets

  • 3 spa-like spray settings of rainfall, jetting, and massage

  • Eco STOP button so that you can stop the flow of water without reaching out to the main valve

  • Touch-clean spray holes that are easy to clean and resist limescale buildup

  • Handheld, wall-mounted, and handheld + wall-mounted (combo) variants

  • Available in Clear-Chrome and Matte Black

  • Option of mineral stones filter, polypropylene mesh filter, or Vitamin C filter

We also have a wide range of high-quality shower accessories such as non-slip shower mats, shower hoses, shower arms, swivel adaptors, and squeegees. Happy showering!

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